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.



September 7, 2011 - Posted by | Benefits, Employment


  1. With the new opportunity offered by the ‘ e petitions ‘ scheme, and 3 millions carers, and only needing 100,000 signatures to get a debate in Parliament, we have the Government over a barrel. If they ignore our needs, the press will have a field day.

    Comment by Colin M Baker | September 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Colin
      I don’t think this is a bad idea at all. If you start one up, we’ll certainly promote it!

      Comment by Gordon Conochie | September 8, 2011 | Reply

  2. Many carers who are in employment, including myself, often have to use annual leave days to take their cared-for to appointments, etc, or else lose pay. This represents another stress on carers who are working, as annual leave from work should be for rest and recuperation. Currently I am on sick leave from work because of the stress of being let down by Camden Learning Disability Service with many causes for official complaints due to their failures – fortunately I have an employer who is empathetic, but there is a limit!

    Comment by Jill Pay | September 7, 2011 | Reply

  3. There are many more CARERS who have had to give up employment completely,instead of commenting on some decline in work support for CARERS you should be concentrating on CARERS at large who though despite grandiose government promises are still BADLY SUPPORTED and often IGNORED


    Comment by Taras Kurylak | September 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Taras
      As charities, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care are here to support all carers and carers who are working deserve support just as other carers do. Many carers who are working provide very high levels of care and are just as much in need of support.

      Legislation can obviously make the difference and we are pushing for the Government to implement the changes the Law Commission propose (, which would mean local authorities would have greater duties to support carers. However, legislation in itself will not change everything – there has already been 3 Acts specifically regarding carers’ issues.

      Thanks Taras

      Comment by Gordon Conochie | September 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Dear Taras – I was unable to work for 19 years because of caring for my daughter and have been back in employment only three years, so I very well understand all the issues affecting carers – in work or not. I also work very hard on carers’ issues locally and nationally. Juggling work and care is very difficult and creates a number of conflicts for the carer – as Gordon says ALL carers need support, whatever their circumstances and occasionally the focus does have to be on one particular sector of the caring population – in this case “working” carers. All the best, Jill

      Comment by Jill Pay | September 8, 2011 | Reply

  4. I may be slightly different in the sense that I was self employed, The time I lost at work was never recoverable.
    I lost my house through the governments lack of support, but now I’m in the rental sector and a full time carer the government will pay my full rent and council tax, if someone could explain to me where this makes sense I would be delighted.

    Comment by john gray | September 8, 2011 | Reply

  5. No question but that all carers need support, but also that working carers are often ignored and marginalised – even sometimes by other carers. There seems to be the assumption sometimes that working carers must have an easy time of it because they manage to work. But the fact is that sometimes they simply have no choice.

    Comment by charles47 | September 9, 2011 | Reply

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