Today is Carers Rights Day. According to Carers UK, there could be up to 10.6 million carers in the UK and this number is expected to increase as the population ages.

Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or addiction. Carers may have to balance their caring responsibilities with their work, which can be challenging and stressful.

The Government has this year passed the Carer’s Leave Act, which will provide carers in the UK with up to one week’s unpaid leave per year. An implementation date has not yet been announced, although it is not expected to be before April 2024.

Rather than waiting for the formal introduction of statutory Carer’s Leave, here are some issues that employers could consider now when supporting their employees who are carers:

  • Flexible working: Carers may need to adjust their working hours, location or pattern to fit around their caring role and those with requisite service can, like any other employee, make a request for flexible working. Employers should consider offering flexible working options to their employees who are carers, such as part-time, compressed hours, job sharing, home working or flexi-time.
  • Carer’s leave: Some employers already provide Carer’s Leave (paid or unpaid).
  • Carer’s assessment: Carers have the right to request a carer’s assessment from their local council or trust, which can help them to access support and services for themselves and the person they care for. Employers should encourage and support employees to have a carer’s assessment, as it can help them to identify their needs, access financial support, get practical help and plan for emergencies.
  • Carers network: Carers may feel isolated, overwhelmed or unsupported by their colleagues or managers. Some employers have set up carer’s networks within their organisation, which can be a great source of peer support, information and advice.
  • Carers training: Carers may need to develop new skills or knowledge to cope with their caring role, such as managing medication, dealing with challenging behaviour or understanding legal rights. Employers should consider providing training or helping employees to access such training to enable them to gain confidence in their roles as carers.

By considering these issues, employers can help to create a supportive and inclusive workplace for their employees who are carers, which can benefit both the employer and the employee.

Employers can access further guidance and resources from organisations such as Carers UK, Carers Trust and Employers for Carers.

If you have any queries you would like to discuss regarding this article, please contact Rena Magdani or Matt McBride.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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