· News

It's time to give back to working carers

Unsung heroes are a trope I didn’t think I’d ever be referencing. As a journalist, I’m somewhat opposed to any kind of buzzword as I find them lazy and reductive (looking at you, quiet quitting). But when applying the phrase to unpaid carers, it just seems to fit the bill.

These are the workers who, after a long day fighting fires in the office, come home to care for a loved one, often without any kind of acknowledgement or gratitude. It is no exaggeration to describe these incredible individuals as the bedrock of our society.
They step in where the NHS cannot reach, offering unconditional love to the most vulnerable people.

Fortunately, an upcoming change in legislation means carers will soon be entitled to one week of unpaid leave, but I’m certain HR can and should be doing more to help.

These unsung heroes juggle hospital appointments, emergency calls and even childcare concerns with employment, and as a result many have, or are considering, leaving the workforce.

Our April/May 2023 cover story has reconfirmed just how important it is to keep these employees in the workforce.

In a talent crisis where retention is key, it’s a no-brainer for the plight of unpaid carers to be on HR’s priority list for the year ahead.

One in seven people in the UK’s workforce is an unpaid carer, and the chances are someone in your organisation may be struggling in silence trying to keep all of the plates spinning.

Other than small pockets of good work, I’m seeing little happening in this space, and the conversation is far from being where it ought to be. Unpaid carers give so much of themselves to others, it’s about time they got a little back.

Jo Gallacher is editor of HR magazine

The full article of the above first appeared in the March/April 2023 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.