By Claire West
• Every year, around one million employees will start caring for a disabled or older relative whilst working.
•1 in 7 employees juggle work with care
•82% of employees unaware of their right to request flexible working
•One in six carers gives up work to care
Carers Rights Day 2010 - Friday 3 December
Today, Carers UK is teaming up with employers Sainsbury’s and Employers for Carers to call on businesses to ensure that carers are better supported in the workplace. This initiative comes as the charity Carers UK also published new research which revealed that families were missing out on millions of pounds worth of entitlements every year.
Around one in six people caring for disabled and ill relatives has gives up work in order to care for a relative. One quarter of those no longer working said that the reason was insufficient care available. Others cited lack of flexibility and understanding from their employers. The costs of giving up work can be devastating for families who often end up struggling to make ends meet, cutting back on food, heating and other essentials.
Imelda Redmond CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK said, “Three million people currently juggle work and care, and this dual role will become more common. With an ageing population millions more people will have to care in the coming years — representing one of the biggest challenges of our generation. It is vital that employers tackle this issue now, before this becomes a problem which is impossible to solve.”
“Our work with Employers for Carers has shown that a little support, understanding and flexibility goes a long way and can deliver business benefits as well as supporting families.”
Gwyn Burr, Customer Service and Colleague Director, Sainsbury’s, said: “We recognise that many of our colleagues have caring responsibilities and that this has been increasing steadily over recent years. It’s an important issue for our colleagues and we want to support them.
“At Sainsbury’s we are proud to have the very best colleagues in retail so we hope that this new partnership will support our existing colleagues whilst at the same time potentially attracting new colleagues who might have caring commitments. We hope that other companies will follow our lead in recognising this vital issue and supporting their colleagues.”
Employment Relations Minister, Edward Davey MP, said: "Flexible working is changing the workplace up and down the country for the benefit of families and business. It is a key priority for the Government, which is why we will be consulting on extending the right to request flexible working to all employees in the new year. The Government welcomes this initiative today, giving people the opportunity to juggle work and care, and we hope that many people will benefit who
care for their friends and neighbours."
Caroline Waters OBE, Director of People and Policy for BT and Chair of Employers for Carers says:
“Employers for Carers is delighted to support Carers Rights Day. We have come together as employers who believe that supporting carers is just good business sense. By working smarter, and offering real opportunities for people to transform the way they work, our members have seen how they can reduce costs and improve productivity as well as help to retain their most skilled staff at a time they can least afford to lose them.
“Accommodating carers isn’t difficult, disruptive or expensive — a small change in working hours or flexible arrangements can make all the difference both to the workforce and to the business. Employees understanding what support is available to them means they are able to contribute in the workplace whilst also fulfilling an essential role in our society.”
Carers UK is calling on employers to:
• Signpost carers in the workplace to Carers UK's website and advice services, so that carers get the help they need to enable them to juggle work and care.
• Join Employers for Carers — www.employersforcarers.org
• Encourage employees to talk about caring situations and have available information about their rights and entitlements. Some employers have found that setting up dedicated networks for carers has allowed them to support themselves.
• Regularly review HR policies to ensure carers are recognised, and consider additional measure to help carers, such as paid emergency leave and ensuring they have access to a phone at all times.
Carers Rights Day is being marked throughout the country with 700 local and national events. For more information go to: www.carersuk.org/carersrightsday
Carers UK has produced ‘Looking After Someone — a guide to carers’ rights and benefits’ for all carers, available from www.carersuk.org or by calling CarersLine, which is able to offer advice on any caring situation, on
0808 808 7777.