By Daniel Hunter

An estimated one million people take on a role caring for older, sick and disabled loved ones every year while juggling their business lives, according to Carers UK.

But without the right information and advice, they will be left under-equipped to deal with the challenges of caring and may even feel they have to leave their jobs, the charity said.

The analysis, published to coincide with national Carers Rights Day (Today, Friday), shows that as our population ages, the pressure on families to provide care and support to loved ones will continue to increase.

The research estimates that each year over 2.1 million people across the UK find themselves in a new caring role every year, facing new pressures, and half of them will be trying to juggle work with looking after an older, disabled or seriously ill relative or friend. A caring role also comes to an end for a further 2.1 million people in the UK.

Chair of Carers UK’s business forum, Employers for Carers and Managing Director of British Gas, Ian Peters said:

“Taking on caring responsibilities for another person can happen quite suddenly as loved ones get older, become ill or disabled or have an accident. With an ageing population, the number of people in your workplace with caring responsibilities is set to increase and those people caring are likely to be your most experienced members of staff. People are any organisation’s biggest asset and engaged well-looked after staff will take care of your business and your customers. As our members know, it makes business sense to put policies in place to reach out to and support carers in the workplace, rather than lose key talent and incur the costs of recruiting and retraining.”

One major UK company found that flexible working increased productivity by 21% — worth £5-6 million on the company bottom line. Staff turnover and sickness absence also dropped significantly.

Three million people currently juggle paid work with caring for a relative or close friend and a staggering 2.3 million people have given up work to care.

Chief Executive of Carers UK Heléna Herklots said:

“Without help and support carers can find themselves facing health problems, emotional stress, relationship breakdown and financial hardship, particularly if they feel they have no choice but to give up their jobs. They can be pushed to breaking point. This has serious consequences for individuals and families and for employers and the UK economy as a whole. Employers could support their employees by working with them to find suitable solutions to problems and help them to get the right information and advice.”

Carers Rights Day, organised by Carers UK, brings together more than 900 organisations across the UK every year to help carers in local communities to know their rights.

Carers UK is calling on employers and public bodies to make a number of changes to help carers access the support and services they are entitled to. These include employers reaching out to carers in their workforce, cross-Government work to develop support for carers to return to work when caring ends and improved access to information and advice.

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