As many as one in seven of us is providing unpaid care for a sick or elderly relative. This can be in addition to paid employment, so it is possible that you may have some carers amongst your workforce.
Unsupported employees with caring duties can experience problems with focus, productivity and attendance. Some even feel that they must quit work altogether. The worrying truth is that nearly half a million people have given up work in the past two years due to caring for a dependant.
With the right strategy in place this can be overcome, and you can retain and support your caring employees. Good management understands their circumstances, aiming to help them work well and reach their potential.
Additionally, if an employee is looking after an elderly or disabled person, they are protected under the Equality Act 2010. This means they may be legally entitled to specific leave for caring responsibilities, or the right to be considered for flexible working. It’s important to stay informed to avoid discrimination.
A sensitive subject
It might not be obvious which of your employees are balancing their work with caring responsibilities, as some people like to separate their personal and professional lives. Therefore, if the topic does arise, manage it with compassion and confidentiality.
Ways in which you can help an employee who is caring for a dependant
Here are our suggestions for supporting an employee who is caring for a dependant and helping them be more productive.
Support and empathy
Regular catch-ups with employees allow them the opportunity to discuss anything that might be troubling them or affecting their performance. If it is apparent that caring responsibilities are affecting their well-being you can signpost support services and let them know that they are not alone. Charities like Age UK share specific advice for carers.
If you manage a leadership team, consider providing them with training on carers’ employment rights so that they feel equipped and able to manage effectively.
Offering flexible work arrangements to employees is a great way to show your support of a good work-life balance. A change as simple as a later start allowing the carer to get the dependant dressed and give breakfast can make all the difference. Employees who are able to work well around other commitments are less likely to need time off.
Some care demands can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. And so dependant emergency leave is in place to allow an employee to take unpaid time off to care for a dependant in an unforeseen circumstance. There are specific criteria as to who should be classed as a dependant, ask us if you are unsure.
The benefits to your business of supporting an employee who cares for a dependant
Taking care of employees is taking care of your business. Understanding the unique needs of your workforce can result in strong staff retention, a boost in productivity and the economy. If you would like further advice and support on how to manage the carers amongst your team and the importance of doing so, contact your local HR Dept today.