Carers UK has released new figures to mark Carers Rights Day showing how people are struggling to balance their work and caring responsibilities, and they’re calling for greater flexible working as one main ways employers can support staff who are carers.
An estimated 600 people give up work every day across the UK in order to care for someone else, and the figures have risen significantly since the pandemic.
Four in ten (40%) carers in employment have passed up promotion opportunities, and 28% haven’t talked to anyone at work about their caring responsibilities, often citing guilt and awkwardness.
In Scotland, around 800,000 people are unpaid carers, and the majority are of working age.
The top three interventions identified by carers as making a difference are:
- having a supportive line manager
- flexible working
- additional paid leave
We’re encouraging employers across Scotland to make sure employees know about support that is already available. And for them to consider whether roles could be made for flexible for staff with caring responsibilities, and any additional support they might be able to offer.
Businesses that support carers benefit too because their employees are less stressed, and more motivated and productive.
Peter Lawson works flexibly in his role as a business analyst for Natwest so he can help care for his wife Amy, who has multiple sclerosis. Amy works for the Scottish Government and between them the couple worked compressed or part-time hours even before the pandemic. But increased home working has proved even more important.
Peter says “For Amy it means she doesn’t have to travel to the office and that helps reduce fatigue. And I can stop for 10 minutes when the carers come in each day to help or catch up. I’m also around to help Amy with anything she needs and to get to medical appointments.
“We’ve also been able to get a dog – a greyhound called Snowflake – which has been our dream for many years but wasn’t possible when we were both out all day. It makes such a difference taking the dog for walks, or just sitting and stroking her if something’s preying on your mind.
“I know working from home doesn’t suit everybody. But for us, it’s been perfect. We do enjoy going to the office and we will continue to go when there’s a good reason. Luckily our employers feel the same, so most of the time you’ll find us working at home – and happier and healthier for it.