UK businesses failing informal carers

Informal carers are being left behind by UK businesses, new research from care, health and wellbeing service WeMa Care has revealed

An informal carer is somebody who gives regular ongoing assistance to another person without payment. The research found that 18% of the UK workforce act as an informal carer. The majority (88%) of those carers said their employers have no policies in place to offer them support.

Of those surveyed, 49% of carers feared being an informal carer hampers their career progression and 55% are looking for another job that affords them greater flexibility.

Just 8% of informal carers surveyed think that their workplace culture allows them to discuss their problems openly.

Vivek Patni, CEO and co-founder of Lavanya Plus (the creator of WeMa), said: “It’s shocking that so few businesses have made an effort to accommodate the needs of informal carers. With an ageing population and increasing pressure on the UK’s social care system we’re likely to see more full-time employees taking on informal carer roles.

“It’s vital HR professionals drive a cultural change within their organisations, encouraging employees to open up about their care commitments. Thereafter, they can take the appropriate steps to support the informal carer in question. Those that don’t address this issue risk alienating employees, damaging productivity and, ultimately, losing staff.”

The research also found that 49% of informal carers in full-time work have lied about needing a sick day to fulfil care commitments, while 67% said they struggle to balance their work and caring responsibilities.

Patni added: "From introducing flexible working policies to embracing CareTech platforms, there are many tools available to ease the burden on informal carers and improve employee performance. Without committing to such changes though, both the employee and the employer remain at risk.”

WeMa Care commissioned an independent survey of more than 2,000 UK adults in full-time employment.

Further reading

Women more likely to take career break for caring responsibilities

'Sandwich carers' need more employer support

Employers must recognise different pressures for male and female carers

Do we care enough about carers?