Are employers doing enough to support employees who have caring responsibilities?

According to a report published on 5 February 2019 by Carers UK, we may still have some way to go to help support those who are trying to juggle work whilst also caring for their older and disabled relatives. 

The report, “Juggling work and unpaid care: a growing issue”, highlights that this is becoming a significant problem of our time and one that is affecting more and more families in the UK in their everyday lives.

The key findings, based on a poll carried out by YouGov plc, contain some staggering statistics:

  • more than 600 people quit work to look after older and disabled relatives every day;
  • one in seven of the UK workforce is caring for a loved one; and
  • 7 per cent said that unpaid caring had negatively impacted on their paid work.

When asked what interventions would be most helpful if they were caring alongside work:

  • 89 per cent of those polled said a supportive line manager/employer;
  • 88 per cent said flexible working; and
  • 89 per cent said additional paid care leave of between five and 10 days.

Currently, there is no legal right to paid “carers’ leave” in the UK.  Employees who have caring responsibilities can make a flexible working request which, if granted, may help alleviate the pressures of trying to juggle both work and their caring responsibilities.  Employees also have the right to take time off for dependants to deal with unforeseen, emergency situations. 

The Carers UK report indicates that this may not be enough and suggests that, amongst other initiatives, the government should introduce a new right to paid care leave to try to address this growing issue.

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Laura Morrison

About Laura Morrison

Laura is a managing practice development lawyer based in Dentons' Edinburgh office, supporting the People, Reward and Mobility practice across the UK. She has more than 15 years' experience as an employment lawyer. Laura's responsibilities focus on supporting our fee earners through a variety of knowledge initiatives, from internal and external training to the development of innovative methods for service delivery.

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