By Clare Campion, CIPD Manchester Branch Ambassador
23 November 2021
On 25 November, it’s #CarersRightsDay and as the title suggests, the day is all about recognising those who care for others and helping them to understand their rights and access available support. According to CarersUK every day 6,000 people become carers but often it’s not something they’ve particularly planned for. This year’s Carers Rights Day focuses on raising awareness of the rights of unpaid carers.
The pandemic has had a massive impact on the lives of carers, affecting access to services, the ability to juggle work and care and much more. That’s why it’s more important than ever that carers are aware of their rights.
Caring is an integral part of being human
Carers keep families together, help those they care for others to have a better quality of life, contribute immeasurably to society, and save the economy a substantial amount of money. While caring can be rewarding, it can also be stressful and isolating if carers don’t get the support they need
In Manchester alone, there are over 65,000 unpaid carers, a figure that is constantly rising. Chances are, you may have a carer or two or more in your workforce. CIPD research exploring the experiences of working carers in England and Wales, produced in collaboration with Sheffield University found that:
- Carers struggle to balance their caring responsibilities with their work commitments. The majority of those surveyed provide care in addition to full-time paid work.
- Employers can do more to support carers in the workplace. Only two-fifths of working carers believed their employer was carer-friendly, with more than a quarter failing to discuss their caring role with anyone at their workplace, most commonly because they believed nothing would change if they did.
- Providing carers with support benefits both carer and employer – namely, by improving the wellbeing of employees, translating to reduced absenteeism and better retention for the business.
Many carers struggle with balancing work and caring responsibilities
The report found that almost half (44%) of working carers in England and Wales, struggle to cope with the pressures of balancing their work and caring responsibilities and that a quarter (24%) have considered giving up their job entirely.
Showing support for working carers is likely to enhance your organisation’s reputation in the eyes of all employees as well as your customers and clients. It will help you to attract and, importantly, retain staff, and is likely to reduce stress and sickness levels and costs. Additionally, CIPD research shows that working carers who feel supported by their organisation are less likely to find it difficult to concentrate at work and are less likely to be considering reducing their hours or quitting their jobs.
Know your organisation’s approach to supporting carers
Managers should be knowledgeable about their organisation’s approach to supporting carers. Whether your organisation has a carers’ policy, framework or guidance, it’s important to understand this and ensure that all employees are aware of the policy and understand their own and the organisation’s responsibilities in respect of it.
Examples of workplace support for carers
- carers’ leave or other special leave arrangements
- flexible working options
- information on career breaks
- access to wellbeing sessions
- carers’ support networks
- occupational health and employee assistance programmes
- access to an external carers’ advice support line
- drop-in lunchtime carer support sessions
- access to a personal telephone to be able to contact people in case of emergencies
Remember, a mix of solutions could be used to respond to a particular situation, such as flexible working combined with some paid/unpaid time off or special leave. Also, remember to talk to carers about what they believe would help them. Some of the best solutions and suggestions come from the carers themselves.
Support in Manchester and Greater Manchester
Locally, there are a number of support networks and groups for Carers. Carers Manchester is a great place to find support and with an established network across the North West Carers UK provides support, information and advice
About the author
Clare joined our team of Ambassadors in 2021 supporting our Inclusion & Diversity special interest group. She is a keen advocate for equality in the workplace and is the Co-Chair of Manchester Metropolitan University’s working parents and carers. She is also instrumental in developing strategic objectives and contributes to policy development.