Beyond carer's leave: creating inclusive workplaces

The Carer's Leave Act, which took effect on April 6th, 2024 means that an estimated two million carers will be able to take up a week of unpaid Carer’s Leave.

11th Apr 2024

The newly implemented Carer's Leave Act, which took effect on April 6th, 2024 means that an estimated two million employees who currently juggle paid employment and caring responsibilities will be able to take up a week of unpaid Carer’s Leave.

Much like the new flexible working legislation, this is a step in the right direction, however, it’s not enough.

As the number of people taking on care responsibilities continues to rise, there's an urgent need for workplaces to become more accommodating to carers. Beyond simply offering carer's leave, there must be a fundamental shift to create more inclusive environments where carers feel not only valued but also fully supported in all their responsibilities.

75% of carers in employment worry about continuing to juggle work and care

With 75% of working carers feeling anxious about balancing their job and caregiving duties, it's clear that action is needed. This stat shows just how tough it can be for people juggling work and caring for loved ones. Beyond offering unpaid leave employers need to step up and make it easier for carers to manage both parts of their lives without feeling overwhelmed.

Flexible work can make a big difference for carers. By allowing them to adjust their schedules or work remotely when needed, employers can provide the flexibility they need. This can help carers attend medical appointments, manage emergencies, or simply take care of their loved ones without sacrificing their work commitments. Embracing flexible work options shows that employers understand and support their employees' caregiving responsibilities, creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.

What is the Carer’s Leave Act?

The Carer’s Leave Act is a new law by which employees have the right to one week’s unpaid leave per year. Employees can take unpaid leave to give or arrange care for a dependant who has:

  • A physical or mental illness or injury that means they’re expected to need care for more than 3 months
  • A disability (as defined in the Equality Act 2010)
  • Care needs because of their old age

The dependent does not have to be a family member. It can be anyone who relies on them for care.

Employees have the right to ask for carer’s leave from their first day of work and their employment rights (like holidays and returning to their job) are protected during carer’s leave.

Employers are unable to deny a carer's leave request, although they can propose rescheduling it to a more suitable time. This option is available only if the employee's absence would significantly disrupt the organisation.

The reality of caregiving : 10 eye-opening stats for employers

It's important for employers to understand the impact of caregiving and working, with the challenges they face being often overlooked. Here, Lottie shares 10 eye-opening statistics that shed light on this reality.

  • 1 in 7 employees now care for an elderly relative. This is due to increase to 1 in 6 by 2040
  • Women are 400% more likely than men to reduce their hours due to eldercare responsibilities
  • 84% of employees with an elderly dependent said they felt more stressed at work
  • 35% of employees know an older adult who needs to consider care
  • 33% of employees miss at least six days of work per year due to their caring responsibilities
  • 80% of employees with eldercare responsibilities have admitted that balancing work and care affects their performance, yet only 20% of organisations were aware of this
  • Since COVID-19, 2.8 million workers have taken on carer responsibilities
  • 350,000 employees leave work every year to care for a loved one
  • 50% of the general public have provided unpaid care at some point in their lives
  • 50% of workers are stressed due to their caregiving responsibilities, with 20% falling ill as a result

Why the carer’s leave act is not enough

These statistics give some insight into the real struggles faced by employees balancing caregiving responsibilities with their jobs. The fact that 80% of employees who are caregivers for elderly relatives feel that their caregiving duties impact their performance at work is very significant. This shows that a large proportion of the workforce is struggling with the challenge of juggling work and caregiving responsibilities.

What is more surprising is that only 20% of organisations are aware of the extent to which caregiving responsibilities affect their employees' performance which highlights a gap in understanding between employers and their workforce. It shows that many employers may not fully understand the challenges faced by their employees or even know of those who are providing care.

These stats highlight just how important it is for employers to go beyond the Carer’s Leave Act and take proactive steps to create a more supportive and inclusive work environment for their employees.

Companies championing carer’s leave

Many of our Flexifed companies are already offering carers leave to their employers.

Clive Smart, Flexa Pioneer and Head of Talent Acquisition at Moneysupermarket shares his thoughts on the new legislation.

“It’s great to finally see legislation supporting working carers. Hopefully it will be easier for the unsung heroes to feel supported at work and feel more comfortable opening up about the challenges they face balancing work and home life. Often colleagues are unaware of the unpaid job you do behind the scenes to support the person you care for”

Here are some of our Flexified companies offering carer’s leave :

🔥 Mr B & Friends

🔥 Centrica

🔥 Storyblok

🔥 Emerald Publishing

🔥 FitXR

🔥 Livestock Information

🔥 Impropable

🔥 Virgin Media 02

4 ways to create an inclusive workplace culture for Carers

Beyond the Carer’s Leave Act here are four ways you can create a more carer-friendly workplace and inclusive environment where your employees feel supported.

🫡 Normalise flexible working: By offering flexible working arrangements, such as hybrid, remote, or flexible hours you can accommodate the diverse needs of carers. This flexibility allows carers to manage their caregiving responsibilities while fulfilling their work obligations effectively. It also removes the stress of adhering to rigid work schedules, making it easier to manage caregiving responsibilities and achieve a healthier work-life balance. There needs to be a cultural shift towards flexible working so that it is not seen as something that is out of the ordinary and doesn’t impact people’s progression at work.

🧱 Provide training for managers: Offer training programs for managers to raise awareness about the challenges faced by carers and educate them on how to support and accommodate employees with caregiving responsibilities. This training can help managers develop and be more empathetic and understanding towards carers in the workplace.

🧠 Understand employees' needs: Take the time to listen to and understand the unique needs and challenges of employees who are carers. If they feel comfortable doing so, have open conversations with carers in your team to identify potential barriers to their productivity and well-being in the workplace. By understanding their needs, you can look at introducing more initiatives to support carers more effectively.

🤝 Offer supportive policies and programs: Create supportive policies and programs specifically designed to help carers, such as paid carer's leave, access to counselling services, and resources for managing caregiving responsibilities. These initiatives demonstrate the organisation's commitment to supporting carers and help create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.

❤️ Be honest and transparent: Being honest and transparent from the start about your company's policies, including carer's leave, sends a powerful message to potential employees. It shows your commitment to creating an inclusive workplace culture where all employees feel valued and supported. By openly showcasing these policies on Flexa companies are not only attracting a more diverse pool of talent but also embedding trust and loyalty among existing employees. This transparency builds a positive EVP and enhances your company's reputation as an inclusive and supportive employer.