UK businesses are failing to support employees who also act as informal carers, new research has revealed.
The research found informal carers – individuals who offer some form of unpaid care to a loved one – make up almost a fifth of the country’s workforce.
However, 88% of these informal carers say their employer has no policies in place to offer support, while 67% struggle to balance their work and carer responsibilities. Only one in five feel their workplace has a culture that encourages them to discuss their care commitments openly.
In fact, almost half of informal carers believe talking openly about their carer commitments at work will ruin relationships with colleagues. Slightly more worry that being an informal carer is hampering their career progression.
WeMa Care’s research also uncovered that 49% of informal carers in full-time work have lied about needing a sick day in order to fulfil care commitments, and the same number have already reduced or changed their working hours in order to care for a loved one.
Meanwhile, 55% are currently searching for a new role offering greater flexibility and support to meet their needs as an informal carer.
Vivek Patni, CEO and Co-Founder of Lavanya Plus, who commissioned the research, said: “It’s shocking that so few businesses have made an effort to accommodate the needs of informal carers. After all, with an ageing population and increasing pressure on the UK’s social care system, we’re likely to see more full-time employees taking on informal carer roles – businesses need to be prepared.
“It’s vital HR professionals drive a cultural change within their organisations, encouraging employees to open up about their care commitments. Thereafter, they can take the appropriate steps to support the informal carer in question. Those that don’t address this issue risk alienating employees, damaging productivity and, ultimately, losing staff.
“From introducing flexible working policies to embracing CareTech platforms, there are many tools available to ease the burden on informal carers and improve employee performance. Without committing to such changes, though, both the employee and the employer remain at risk.”