Employers dodge policies to support working carers

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Firms risk alienating up to three million workers by failing to keep up with the care agenda, a new study from the CIPD has found.

Just one third of businesses have either a formal, written policy or an informal, verbal policy in place to support working carers.

A quarter of employers have a formal written policy in place to support employees who are juggling work and caring commitments at home, and eight per cent have an informal, verbal policy aimed at the needs of carers, according to a joint report from the CIPD and Westfield Health.

Meanwhile, almost two-fifths have no policies at all, nor plans to implement them in the near future.

The problem is particularly prevalent in the private sector, where just 11 per cent of organisations offer line manager training; just 18 per cent have a formal, written policy aimed at supporting working carers; and only one in five know how many working carers they employ.

The research – which combined four in-depth online focus groups involving a cross-section of 23 working carers, and a survey of 554 senior HR professionals – reveals that working carers have very limited knowledge or understanding of the kind of support they could be entitled to in the workplace.

The figures also suggest that 70 per cent of employers do not keep track of how many of their staff have caring responsibilities, but Claire McCartney, resourcing and talent planning adviser at the CIPD, said both measurement and line manager training were key to supporting the working carer population.

“Employers need to view working carers as an opportunity, rather than a challenge, and see that listening to and understanding what they need from their employer is important,” she said. “Although official policies for working carers will help to legitimise their place in the labour market, they need not be prescriptive and should focus on empowering individuals.”

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