Carers UK is calling on organisations to help carers access the benefits and support available to them, and reap the business benefits of supporting carers in the workplace.
Statistics published by the charity today, to coincide with Carers Rights Day, reveal that, every year, one million working people become carers.
The charity claims that in a typical organisation with 1,000 employees, 40 workers could become carers every year.
Its research also shows that carers are missing out on £740m of unclaimed benefits, and not getting the services or information they need – particularly in the vital first year of caring.
The report is based on a survey of 265 carers. Key findings show that 65% did not recognise themselves as carers in the first year of caring. For just under a third (32%), recognition took up to five years.
As a consequence, one in three believed they had missed out on benefits and pension entitlements, with the majority (58%) missing out for more than three years.
Carers UK is calling on employers to:
point carers in the workplace to advice booklets or link to Carers UK’s website so that carers get the help they need to enable them to juggle work and care
ensure good implementation of the new Work and Families Act, which comes into effect on 6 April 2007, which includes the right for carers to request flexible working
encourage employees to talk about caring situations and have available information about their rights and entitlements. Some employers have found that setting up dedicated networks for carers has allowed them to support themselves
regularly review HR policies to ensure carers are recognised, and consider additional measures to help carers, such as paid emergency leave and ensuring they have access to a telephone at all times
support those employees back into the workplace who have reached the end of an episode of caring.
Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “Three million people currently juggle work and care, and this dual role will become more common. With an ageing population we will need millions more people to care in the coming years.
“Research has shown that those employers leading the way in this have enjoyed benefits to their bottom line. Supporting carers in the workplace with just a little bit of flexibility reduces sick leave, results in a more loyal and productive workforce, and helps employers attract and retain trained and skilled staff.”