A CIPD report explored employer practice towards older workers and working carers across five European countries: the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany and the UK. It found that those in the group aged 40+ and 50+ face the greatest care demands, but are also key to the labour market because of their experience.
The CIPD warned that the economy cannot afford to lose them, so it is up to employers to create attractive working situations that take into account people's external responsibilities, and enable them to stay in work.
Rachel Suff, CIPD public policy adviser for employment relations, said that firms need to legitimise and support working carers and their place in the labour market.
"These individuals account for an increasing share of the UK’s workforce, but often feel uncomfortable talking about their situation, which results in it being a hidden issue," she said. "Employers have a responsibility to raise awareness and train line managers to support employees with caring responsibilities and help them stay in work. They also need to foster an open and inclusive culture where staff feel supported rather than in fear of how external factors might affect their job.
"Ideally employers should develop an approach that values people for who they are, whatever their age or personal circumstances, and aims to support them in achieving harmony between their needs and desires inside and outside the workplace."
Minister for pensions Ros Altmann said employers should take advantage of the skills and experience that older workers can bring to the workplace. "This is why we are developing an employer-led strategy with some of the UK’s biggest employers to ensure older workers get the support they need to be able to enjoy fuller working lives," she said.
"With today’s report, I am delighted to have the CIPD’s support in raising awareness and understanding among employers of the value that older workers can bring.”