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BT's HR boss warns employers not to make carers redundant

Employers must not target groups for redundancy that traditionally find it difficult to get into the workplace, BT's director of people and policy Caroline Waters, has told organisations at the launch of a forum to promote employer awareness of carers.

Speaking to businesses, policy makers and government officials as she unveiled the new Employers for Carers service, Waters (pictured) warned against picking off people that had ‘different' working practices in order to reduce costs in the recession.

"Working smarter and more flexibly is essential during difficult times. It makes business sense to keep skilled and experienced employees and avoid the costs or recruitment and retraining later," she said.

"Whether the economic climate is good or bad, it does not change the fact that we have a rapidly ageing population and that caring responsibilities are going to grow."   
Jonathan Shaw, Minister with responsibility for carers within the Department of Work and Pensions, echoed her views. "In the recession it is very important we don't stop and pause on the public policy agenda and on issues like juggling care and work."

He added that there "was only so much government can do".

"Employers have an enormous impact. There is an untapped pool of talent. We want to win hearts and minds of employers, not bang sticks over their heads with red tape. The message can get lost but flexibility is good economics."
Waters said that BT has 80,000 flexible workers, saving the company £85m-£90m a year. It has taken half a billion pounds of costs out of the business in the eight years since it began its flexible policy. The company cites increased productivity of more than 20% for its home workers and staff turnover four times lower than the sector average.

Employers for Carers, supported by Carers UK and chaired by BT, is a membership forum designed to deliver hands-on advice to employers about supporting the UK's three million working carers.

HR is campaigning for a single Care Voucher to enable employers to help staff with caring responsibilities for elderly and disabled dependants as well as children. Please sign our Make Care Less Taxing petition.