We’re pleased to be supporting ‘Carers in the Workplace research’ in partnership with CIPD.

Mother and daughter

Only a third of employers are supporting working carers

Just a third of employers (34%) have a formal, written policy or an informal, verbal policy in place to support working carers in their workplace, according to a new survey published today. With estimates suggesting that 3 in 5 people will end up caring for someone at some point in their lives, employers are being urged to put mechanisms in place to empower and support working carers, before they lose out on key talent.

This is according to new CIPD/Westfield Health research which finds that almost two-fifths (38%) of employers do not have any policies in place to support working carers, or plans to develop one. The report also finds that just 13% of organisations offer line manager training to support working carers, suggesting that no action is being taken to accommodate those with caring responsibilities on any level. The problem is particularly prevalent in the private sector, where just 11% of organisations offer line manager training, 18% have a formal, written policy aimed at supporting working carers, and only one in five (20%) know how many working carers they employ.

Claire McCartney, Research Adviser – Resourcing and Talent Planning at the CIPD, comments: “Caring is such a broad term, and there are often blurry lines between those who view themselves as carers and those who see themselves as simply doing their duty. Some might not declare themselves as carers because they are worried about being treated differently, or they might be concerned that reducing their hours or asking for flexible working could impact negatively on their career progression.

“The onus is on employers to create and promote policies and initiatives in the workplace that empower working carers, sending employees a clear message that their organisation will support them. Measurement is key to supporting working carers – without it, employers cannot know how many working carers they have and what the most appropriate policies, tools and support might be. Line manager training is also crucial, as they are often the first port of call for employees needing support and they need to be able to understand the context in which working carers are operating, and have the tools and the confidence to help them develop their skills and progress in their careers.”

The survey found that, of those organisations that do support working carers, almost half (45%) think the steps they have taken have made a positive difference to their organisation’s culture. The five top reasons why organisations support carers at work are: it’s the right thing to do as a good employer (65%), it improves work-life balance (60%), it improves employee morale/engagement (58%), improves retention (53%) and reduces absenteeism (50%).

When working carers were asked which approach they would prefer if their organisation took steps to support them at work, 62% voted for minimal involvement in their personal lives, in which employees with caring responsibilities are empowered and given permission to respond as they need. Just 18% said they’d prefer a hand-holding response where their organisations was highly engaged in working carers. 11% voted for neither and 10% said they didn’t know.

Westfield Health’s Executive Director, David Capper, said: “More than three million workers in the UK are providing informal care to older parents or dependents, and this figure is expected to rise, as many more employees are likely to find themselves in the ‘sandwich generation’ – balancing working commitment with caring for older family members and looking after their own children. Caring not only impacts heavily on employees’ working lives, particularly in terms of health and wellbeing, but can also seriously affect employers through rising levels of absence and falling levels of productivity.

“With so many UK workers now facing these struggles, working carers need to be on every employer’s agenda. It’s clear from this research that many haven’t yet fully recognised the impact of this demographic shift, but they must understand the need to address this issue and put in place mechanisms to support them.”

Katherine Wilson, Strategic Lead, Employers for Carers, said: “We warmly welcome this new research which shines a fresh light on the increasingly critical issue of recognising and supporting carers in the workplace. With one in nine people in any workplace already caring, and this number set to increase as our population (and workforce) ages, this is a timely addition to the evidence base on supporting carers at work. It also reflects the findings of surveys by our business forum, Employers for Carers, over the years which, again, have repeatedly highlighted the key role of carer aware policies, promotion and practices in the workplace.

Click here for The CIPD/Westfield Health survey recommendations for Workers carers, Employers and UK Government.

To read the full report CIPD/WestfieldHealth Carers in the Workplace click here.

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