It is expected millions of working carers could be forced to quit their jobs if faced with new or increased levels of caring responsibility at home. With 3 in every 10 UK employees expected to be caring, experts are calling for more flexibility from business.
For many years now there has been significant progress around support for working families and the need for greater flexibility in the workplace to ensure people can keep working whilst raising children. Somewhere hidden in the mix, those who balance a caring for loved ones alongside employment have been left in the dark and Covid19 has magnified the need for a shift in momentum towards a greater level of support for unpaid carers in the workplace.
In a study of working carers carried out by The University of Sheffield, 44% were struggling with the pressure of balancing their job with caring for a loved one. This equates to 1.6 million people across England and Wales. 1 in every 4 working carers also said that an increase in their caring responsibility may in fact result in them giving up work altogether.
Research carried out by CIPD additionally supported the fact 25% of working carers would consider quitting their job if caring increased but also went on to highlight that working carers employed by supportive employers were less likely to consider leaving because they experience better wellbeing and are less likely to need to reduce their hours or quit their job because of the flexibility provided to them.
People who care for loved ones spend an inordinate amount of time and energy caring, often to the detriment of their own physical and emotional well-being. For an employer to recognise, acknowledge and support working carers would make a massive difference for many.
Terry Hawkins, CEO of Crossroads Care Surrey says: “We have been supporting carers in Surrey for more than 37 years. We are best placed to support employers to implement carer friendly policy and provide training for line managers to spot the signs of those who may be working carers. We can give employers the right tools to enable them to provide understanding with flexibility, including short notice leave for all working carers. The benefits of this flexible approach for both employer and employee will not only result in a happier workforce, but also serve to increase staff retention, keep recruitment costs down and contribute towards keeping good people working, with the end result of enhancing the organisational reputation through great workplace culture.”
As a result of living through Covid19 perhaps the new normal of greater flexibility through the need to social distance will have a positive effect for this unseen community.