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Employers from a variety of sectors including finance, retail, healthcare and education gather in London today (Tuesday 14 May) to discuss how to better support millions of unpaid carers in their workforces. 

There are currently 5.7 million unpaid carers in the UK caring for an ill, elderly or disabled relative of friend long-term and 2.5 million of them are in work across England and Wales – a number set to rise as our workforce ages.

The conference, proudly sponsored by the Phoenix Group – the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business - and organised by Carers UK,  will help employers to plan for the Future of Work. As our workforce ages and the numbers of younger workers shrinks, we will see more people juggling paid work with unpaid care in the years to come. Currently, 600 people a day leave work to care for an ill, elderly or disabled relative or friend. The conference recognises the need for employers to adapt to the new demographic.

Attended by senior leaders and directors; HR and DEI team members and strategists and taking place at One, Great George Street, London, the conference includes panel discussions on the Future of Work, chaired by broadcast journalist Kirsty Wark.

Wendy Chamberlain MP, who successfully steered the Carer's Leave Act through Parliament - which grants employees who are unpaid carers up to five days of statutory unpaid leave – will address employers about the next steps for the implementation of the Act in their workplaces.


Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “Unpaid caring is both financially and emotionally challenging. A staggering 600 people a day leave work to care for an ill, elderly or disabled relative or friend and yet unpaid carers tell us they often feel invisible or forgotten. It can take up to two years for a person to self-identify as a carer. The Carer’s Leave Act, which came into force in April this year, was a huge step towards recognising unpaid carers and an important springboard for the Future of Work.

“As our population ages, almost all of us will have caring responsibilities in the future. Enabling employers to retain their skilled, unpaid carers is a crucial step towards happier workplaces and increased productivity. When carers who want to, can remain in, or return to work, the benefits are felt by families, their workplace, communities and the economy.”


Claire Hawkins, Director of Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations at the Phoenix Group, said: “We are delighted to be proud sponsors of the Future of Work Conference with leading charity, Carers UK.

“Our employees are incredibly valuable to us. Caring responsibilities are one of the biggest drivers for staff reducing their working hours and leaving their careers, even when they want to remain in work. We are dedicated to supporting our staff with unpaid caring responsibilities which is why we have granted 10 days of paid leave to all our staff caring for an ill, elderly or disabled relative or friend.

“Creating a flexible working environment in which unpaid caring is seen, valued and recognised is important as our workforce ages and hybrid working continues as the new normal. This conference will give businesses the space to openly discuss how they can best adapt to the Future of Work.”

Companies and organisations speaking at the conference include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Aviva, Newcastle University, Sheffield University, AXA, Clyde & Co, Nationwide, the TUC and more.


About the Future of Work Conference


  • The first panel included keynote speeches on the changing face of work delivered by Kelly Beaver MBE, Chief Executive of Ipsos UK and Ireland, and Tamar Hughes, Talent Development and Inclusion Director at the Phoenix Group. 
  • The second panel explored the challenges and opportunities of hybrid work with speeches by Sarah Jackson OBE, Work-Life Balance and Flexible Working Expert, Visiting Professor, Cranfield University of School of Management and Senior Associate at Flexibility Works, as well as Liam Slattery, Director of Peoples Services, Barts Health NHS Trust and Ariam Enraght-Moony, Chief People Officer at TSB bank.


A variety of breakout sessions are taking place on the day, exploring questions such as:

  • Can hybrid working support working parents and carers and lead to better staff retention?
  • What role – if any – should employers take in ensuring we have the right supply of childcare and social care to enable people who are caring to work?
  • How important are workplace rights, and do they promote equality and fairness?
  • What does ‘good work’ look like for diverse groups and how can employers achieve it?
  • What part can employers play in ensuring the wellbeing of their workforce and does it improve productivity?


Source: Carers UK

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