We strive to make Centrica a great place to work which means ensuring that our 36,900 strong-workforce has a rewarding, fulfilling and inclusive environment in which they can achieve their ambitions. One of the ways we do this is by helping our people balance their commitments better, both inside and outside of the workplace. This is important as we recognise that our people not only contribute significantly to our continued business success, but they also play vital roles in the lives of their families. We therefore provide creative and flexible ways of working that supports employees whilst helping us attract and retain our talented and diverse workforce.
We have a robust approach to flexible working which enables our people to manage the personal commitments in their lives. All our employees have the right to request flexible working and we will endeavour to find a solution that works wherever possible. This could perhaps mean working part-time, having alternative work hours or sometimes working from home. Our progressive stance on flexible working has received external recognition and recently, British Gas was shortlisted for the ‘Best for Flexible Working’ at the Working Families Award due in June 2014.
We have also worked to improve the experience of new parents. We provide parents-to-be and their managers with information on entitlements in the lead up to the birth and support them return to the workplace. Ahead of the new UK Government regulations on shared parental leave due to come into effect early in 2015, we are already reviewing our family-friendly offerings and are exploring new ways to further engage our working parents with assistance available.
With an estimated 315,000 working age carers having left and remained out of employment due to their circumstances (note 1), we believe it is essential that we not only have flexible working practices but also effective policies and processes in place to ensure retention of those with carer responsibilities within our workforce. For example, our Carers Policy matches leave which enables them to take time off work when they need to without using their annual leave, allowing them to meet commitments such as taking a loved one to a hospital appointment.
Established in 2005, Centrica’s Carers Network also provides a vital source of guidance for our employee carers. The 800-strong network enables employees from across the business to help each other by sharing their experiences, as well as providing information on how to gain additional aid. The network also provides us with valuable feedback to ensure we offer the best support possible to meet the demands of their individual circumstances.
Centrica also aims to raise awareness around the assistance and benefits available to carer employees, both within the company and externally, by backing the annual National Carers Week. In partnership with Working Families and Employers for Carers (EfC) we have additionally developed and launched a training programme in 2014. This programme includes a module specifically for managers to identify and help meet carer needs as well as delivering training tailored to those at different stages of caring, such as those new to taking on a caring responsibility.
Employees experiencing difficult family issues such as being a carer, suffering bereavement or going through a divorce can also seek professional advice from independent counsellors through our 24-hour Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
As a responsible employer we remain committed to giving our people the support they need in order to have a happy, healthy and engaged workforce who provide a strong service to our customers and support our sustainable business success.
1 L Pickard, Public expenditure costs of carers leaving employment (2012) LSE Health & Social Care, London School of Economics and Political Science:http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/healthandsocialcare/2012/04/25/dr-indapickard-public-expenditure-costs-of-carers-leaving-employment/