Are carers in employment getting adequate support?
My previous blog reported that the more you earn, the less care you are likely to provide. This one considers a report by Employers for Carers which found that only 20% of carers who are also in employment believe they receive adequate support, in and outside of the workplace, to help them manage caring and working.
One of the interesting things in the report is the difference between what support employers say is available to support carers, and what support carers say is available. For instance, 25% of carers said they had flexible leave arrangements but 78% of employers said they provided this for carers. 43% of carers said they could access flexible working whilst 95% of employers said they offered this.
Of course, it could be that a disproportionate amount of carers surveyed work for one of the employers that do not offer these but I think that is unlikely and that there is a real disparity between what employers say is on offer and what support carers are accessing. This could be due to carers not being identified in the workplace, or reluctant to identify themselves and request such options.
One thing that concerns me is that people at different levels within the same organisation can access different types of support. For instance, shift workers doing manual labour will find it harder to work from home or choose compressed hours than an office based worker. And remember, carers are more likely to be in lower wage brackets.
The heartening thing for me is that employers who took part in the survey said they want to do more to support carers in their workplaces. Three-quarters wanted to work with external services to improve support for carers in their workplace and help them access information. Many employers are also setting up employee networks for carers in their organisation which can provide useful peer support.
I think carers’ charities should be looking at working in workplaces but resources are already stretched with funding cuts. Employers may have to consider investing in purchasing support services for carers in their workplace if they want it. And it may be worth it as 43% of carers surveyed said their work performance had declined because of the caring pressures on them.
With nearly 3m carers also in employment, it’s a challenge we can’t ignore.