Employers urged to increase support as colleagues fail to identify ‘hidden’ carers

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The working population drastically underestimates the number of co-workers who care for loved ones, leading to a shortfall in support, according to new research by Carers UK released for Carers Rights Day, today. The research shows that 3 in 5 (62%) people in work believe they ‘don’t know a single colleague’ who cares for an ill, older or disabled loved one, despite the fact that 1 in 9 juggle work with care. Even amongst those who managed or were aware of carers in the workplace, a striking number did not direct them to further information (64%).

  • Women (27%) are 10% more likely than men (17%) to say they know a colleague who is caring
  • Employees at the peak caring age of 45-54 years old are only slightly more likely than average to recognise one or more carers at work (24%)

A worryingly low number of UK respondents felt that if they identified a new carer they would ‘not feel confident’ directing them to further information about caring, including financial or practical support (42%). With a majority of colleagues failing to identify or support co-workers who care for a loved one, the research highlights a pertinent need for employers, human resources professionals and line-managers to start a dialogue around caring in the workplace.

The research comes one year after Carers UK’s Missing Out report found that the two in five (42%) carers who missed out on support because they had not recognised themselves as carers had to give up work as a result. This Carers Rights Day Carers UK is urging human resources staff and decision-makers to act to raise the profile of working carers and make it easier for them to access support both in and outside the workplace, including efforts to:

  • Publicise policies such as flexible working and care leave to create a culture of inclusion and support for carers, which helps retain talent
  • Increase visibility of carers issues by signposting to existing carer-friendly policies and setting up channels, such as a forum or network, for carers to make their voices heard
  • Engage with forums like Employers for Carers in order to benefit from practical resources and support for HR and line managers and dedicated information about caring for employees

Katherine Wilson, Head of Employers for Carers said: “We know that carers can benefit hugely from early support and recognition, yet a majority of the UK’s 3 million working carers remain largely ‘hidden in plain sight’ amongst their co-workers. Concerted efforts to start a conversation about caring is valuable to both employees, who can benefit from carer-friendly policies such as flexible working, and employers looking to retain top talent and boost productivity.

This Carers Rights Day, we are encouraging employers to make their employees aware of the support available for carers both within and outside the workplace and their entitlement to relevant financial and practical support. Signposting to Carers Rights Day resources and engaging with a forum like Employers for Carers, is a fantastic first step in equipping managers and colleagues with the tools needed to support carers.”

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