Although half of the UK’s 6.5 million carers juggle work and care commitments, 38% are not comfortable talking about their caring responsibilities at work.
One in six working carers (16%) said they felt like they were the only person in this situation, according to Employers for Carers, a membership forum for employers of all sizes that is supported by Care UK. Four in 10 (43%) reported their colleagues and managers didn’t understand the impact of these caring responsibilities.
“Providing care for a loved one alongside paid work can be tough and made more difficult by a lack of workplace recognition,” Carers UK chief executive Heléna Herklots said.
“An understanding manager, networks of working carers who can offer peer support, flexible working policies and enough practical support from care services all have a vital role in breaking the isolation felt by working carers,” she added.
“Business, government and society all have a role in recognising and supporting those who are managing work alongside caring for someone.”
The research highlighted a need for improvements in workplace support. A quarter of working carers said the key reason for feeling alone was a lack of understanding from their line manager about the impact of juggling care and work. A fifth (22%) also said that using up their annual leave to provide care means they do not have time for a social life.
In response to these issues working carers said the top priority for workplace support was improved and consistent manager awareness of caring issues, while more flexible/special leave arrangements were also needed.
Ian Peters, British Gas managing director and chair of Employers for Carers, said: “Supporting carers to remain in employment means creating an open and understanding workplace where employees can find out about the flexibility that may be available from their employer, get peer support from colleagues in a similar position, and find information about practical and emotional support available outside of work.”
“For businesses, the message is simple,” he continued. “Unless workplaces provide better support for carers they will continue to see growing numbers of their most experienced staff leaving employment.”
Peters added it was not just about being a good employer but about “improving productivity, attracting and retaining talent in the workplace, and reducing staff isolation, turnover and recruitment costs”.