Long-term savings and retirement business Phoenix Group is providing five more paid leave days for working carers to help them cope with the third national lockdown.
Sara Thompson, group HR director, said: “Last year we provided colleagues with similar access to five days’ emergency paid leave to help them during the lockdowns of March and June 2020. This additional emergency leave is there to help cover immediate childcare or caring requirements and to explore if there are alternative arrangements available.”
The organisation is also urging other employers to follow suit if possible. The call comes on the back of research last year which found 4.4 million working carers were using their annual leave to fulfill their caring duties.
Thompson said: “Faced with the challenges of juggling caring and work responsibilities, many are having to use their annual leave to care for their loved ones, or find themselves having to give up work all together.”
She added: “Parents and carers are once again, during this third lockdown, being asked to juggle caring responsibilities, childcare or home-schooling with working as best they can. We want to provide colleagues with as much flexibility to help them manage through this difficult time and call for other employers to do the same.”
Andy Briggs, chief executive of Phoenix Group and government Business Champion for Older Workers, said: “The latest lockdown has heightened once again the need for flexibility from employers. Given the challenging circumstances we are again providing five days’ emergency paid leave on a flexible basis for colleagues. This applies to both working carers and parents during this lockdown period.”
He added: “We are introducing this benefit on top of the five days annual paid Carers’ Leave we offer, which we hope will be legislated as a statutory right by Government this year.”
As well as offering paid emergency leave, Phoenix Group has also promoted its trained Mental Health First Aiders service, and encourages all staff to speak to its mental health colleague network, Mind Matters, as well as its colleague network, Carers Network.