Working carers: adjusting to new realities

Dave Kirwan

By Dave Kirwan

Working carers: adjusting to new realities

Our charity partner Carers UK have released their latest research into supporting unpaid working carers and the revelation that an astonishing 7.7 million people have been juggling work and unpaid care through COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic, the research suggests that each day 600 people give up work to care for older or disabled relatives.

At Centrica we know the value of supporting our carers and as the executive sponsor of our Carers Network, I hear from our colleagues about the challenges that come with balancing working with caring.

We fully support the proposed introduction of statutory carers leave and Carers UK’s insight into social care provision, which will make life easier for our carers. We also remain committed to our own carer friendly offering which we would encourage all employers to consider.

With the furlough scheme coming to an end in the UK and more employers asking their colleagues to return to physical workplaces, the impact on working carers wellbeing needs to be front of mind. In some cases, there may be anxieties and for others the return to a more ‘normal’ way of life may be the welcome break they need.

The internal Carers Network is a vital source of emotional and practical support. Our regional representatives help carers identify themselves and signpost them to wider health and wellbeing support.

We know that flexibility is key to retaining carers and we also know that having caring related conversations with managers can be stressful so we recently introduced the Carers Passport. It stays on the colleague’s profile, removing the need for repeated conversations about their personal situation.

We know that Carers leave is beneficial in relieving some of the mental load and uncertainty that balancing caring and working creates. In 2019 we enhanced our Carers leave policy and now offer paid leave for up to six weeks when matched with annual leave. You can find out more about how we support our Carers and the many benefits to our business in our Supporting Carers in the Workplace report here.

As the impact of the pandemic continue to be felt, we are supporting our carers from home, enabling them to continue working while looking after their loved ones.

You can read our full case study and Carers UK’s recommendations for workplaces and social care in their Health and Wellbeing report here.