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Better support needed for three million working carers

Laura Davis

With National Carers’ Day on Friday 24 November, now is a good time for employers to take a closer look at ways in which they can best support employees who are also carers, to help them strike a balance between being productive at work and managing their caring responsibilities. Contributor Laura Davis, Managing Director of Hampshire-based HR Consultancy.

Laura Davis, Managing Director of Hampshire-based HR Consultancy, said: “There are over three million working carers in the UK and they have special rights to help them juggle both their work and caring responsibilities. Everyone in employment is entitled to statutory rights, whereas contractual rights are given at the discretion of the employer.”

Statutory rights enable all employees to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency or an unforeseen matter involving a dependent. In addition, all employees have a right to request flexible working (such as part-time, home working, job sharing and flexitime) after they have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks, providing they haven’t already made a flexible working request within the last 12 months.

Contractual rights are offered by employers in addition to statutory rights and can be set out in a company’s own carer’s policy. This could include offering carers flexible leave, being flexible when carers need to leave at short notice and allowing carers to work flexibly.

Laura believes that training line managers to support carers is also very important: “People managers are essential to making a carer’s policy work and are also likely to have an impact on a carer’s ability to balance the demands of work and care, so training them to adopt an understanding attitude and what support you are able to offer carers will go a long way to gaining trust in the workplace”.

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