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Why is supporting working carers so important now?

Most people's lives will include at least one episode of caring. According to the 2021 census, around 2.5 million people in England and Wales alone (excluding full-time students) are combining paid employment with caring for older, disabled or seriously ill family members or friends. While we await full results from the census in Scotland and Northern Ireland, recent research from Carers UK has estimated that one in seven people in the workplace in the UK are juggling work and care.


How it affects carers

Research has shown that, if unsupported, caring can have an adverse impact on people’s careers. Each year over 250,000 people give up work to care - the equivalent of 600 resignations per day. The consequent loss of skills, talent and productivity creates significant costs for employers. For those remaining in the workforce, caring without adequate support can result in poorer mental health, higher risk of burnout and financial worries. Furthermore, recent research by EfC found that over 70% of working carers had felt lonely or isolated in the workplace due to caring responsibilities.


How this impacts your business

Businesses which identify and support working carers benefit from greater staff engagement, improved retention and increased productivity, boosting their bottom line. Centrica, one of the founding members of Employers for Carers, has experienced estimated yearly savings of £1.8 million through reduced unplanned absences. As a consequence of effective carer policies and practice, they calculated a further £1.3 million per annum in retention savings.

With 90% of working carers being 30 plus – employees in their prime employment years – by better supporting carers organisations could save up to £4.8 billion a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4 billion in improved employee retention.


How Employers for Carers helps

Caring is everyone’s business - each of us faces a 50/50 chance of becoming a carer by the age of 50. A key challenge for employers is that carers are often hidden in plain sight and not comfortable or confident talking about their caring responsibilities at work.

For this to change UK employers need a dedicated focus on working carers. Creating an environment where carers are seen and valued is a key part of this journey. Whether you are putting together a carer’s policy or building on existing support systems, Employers for Carers have the expertise to help. Through leveraging the specialist knowledge of Carers UK, and the wider Employers for Carers community, your organisation can truly reap the business benefits of supporting working carers.

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 passed final legislation on 27 February 2024 which seals a groundbreaking new right for two million employees with unpaid caring responsibilities to take up to five days of Carer’s Leave. The law came into force on 6 April 2024 and employers will need to be prepared to deliver changes to the way they offer support to all unpaid carers in their workforce.

Carers UK and EfC have produced resources to support the implementation of the Carer's Leave Act as part of EfC membership. These include a detailed guide on the key provisions of the new law, an online training session and a training slide deck to roll out to managers. These resources are available for member organisations to access on the EfC Digital membership platform.


For more in depth briefings on the business case for supporting working carers download the resources provided below:

"We want to make our workplace as inclusive as possible. Being a member of Employers for Carers allows us to understand the impact caring can have. As a growing number of people have caring responsibilities it’s important we enable colleagues to do their caring role alongside their work."

Chief Operating Officer and carers’ network sponsor, Financial Ombudsman Service

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