Time off for carers

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Carers UK, with backing from the Daily Mirror, is calling for carers to be allowed extra time off work when they are unable to cope. One in five people looking after someone find it impossible to balance a job and caring. Carers UK is backing the Daily Mirror's caring for carers campaign and calling for carer's leave to be made law.

This would give a right to discretionary planned time off to cope with responsibilities. It would also give caers extra breathing space instead of feeling they have to quit. The policy has been adopted by Centrica, the parent company of British Gas.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: "A number of employers are really good. But for many, juggling work and caring can be a struggle.

"They tell us they often feel they have to give up work and then have to survive solely on benefits." Since 2007, carers have had the right to emergency or dependents' leave in times of crisis. Carer's Leave would allow time for planned events such as hospital visits.

Centrica has had a sympathetic policy for six years. It includes flexible working for all employees. It also offers Carer's Leave - typically five days a year - decided by managers on a discretionary basis.

Staff take half a day out of annual holiday and the company matches the other half day.

Mel Flogdell, of Centrica, said: "We know caring places extra demands on people. Trying to balance work and life can be really difficult.

"Also, we don't want to lose staff once we've trained them.

"So we support the Mirror's demand - and recommend it to other companies. If they haven't started already they should get a policy in place because the issue is going to get bigger and bigger."

Estimates suggest three million people combine work with caring, that's around one in seven workers.

Two million are full-time while one million work part-time.


1.Carers UK is backing the Daily Mirror's caring for carers campaign. more...

2.Carers UK supports Employers for Carers