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Are organisations failing working carers?

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Creating an enabling future for carers in the workplace

A joint survey recently published by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and Westfield Health explores the growing trend of ‘working Carers’ – individuals who juggle employment with caring responsibility for a disabled, older or ill relative or friend.

With over 3 million (and rising) working carers this is not an insignificant proportion of the UK workforce. The findings of this survey of over 1000 organisations highlights an urgent need for employers to recognise not only the increasing numbers but the impact caring has on both the employer and employee.

The infographic summarises the key survey findings, and there is more to be done to improve the quality of the employee experience and quality of life of working carers. 26% of businesses don’t know how many carers they employ in the first place. 38% of businesses have no policies to guide on the working carers’ recruitment, retention or working conditions. It is unsurprising therefore that many working carers feel unable to progress in their chosen career, and often cut back hours or give up work altogether.

In a 2014 policy briefing, Carers UK, suggested that the peak age of caring often coincides with the peak of an individual’s career in their 40s- 60s. The financial loss is not only to the working carer but also to an organisation losing an experienced employee and having to recruit and train new staff to replace them.

There is very little training to ensure that line managers are aware of their Equality responsibilities to working carers. Confronting the issue of working carers is fraught with fear and uncertainty about what is required. The answer is probably simpler than organisations think – just listen. Carers are not looking for their employer to be involved in their home life, solve all their problems, or ignore performance or productivity issues.

62% of working carers said they want “to feel empowered and given permission to respond as needed, whether through flexible working, information and advice via an employee program”.

In our work supporting organisations to become dementia Friendly, we recognise the importance of the inclusion of working carers and hold them in high regard as stakeholders and contributors to the policy making and culture of any organisation that values them. Every organisation can probably do better.

Read the full report here: http://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/creating-an-enabling-future-for-carers-in-the-workplace.pdf

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