One employer in three offers leave to employees who are juggling work and care commitments, according to research by XpertHR published on 12 May, and the average amount of leave available is 6.3 days per year.
Many employers also offer the right to request flexible working, in advance of new regulations extending the right to all staff which come into force on 30 June 2014. Where employees had requested a flexible working arrangement, 100% of these requests were granted.
Rachel Suff, XpertHR researcher and author of the report, said: “Enabling carers to work flexibly could be key to helping this group of employees meet their work and caring responsibilities. It is a testament to the positive level of employers’ support for carers that, where employees had requested a flexible working arrangement, 100% of these requests were granted.
The research found 38.9% of employers have a written policy covering the rights of carers. However, only one in 10 has a dedicated written carers policy, with others incorporating their arrangements in another policy, typically their flexible working policy.
“Having a policy dedicated to the issue of caring sends a message to employees that the organisation attaches importance to caring responsibilities, and acts as a clear point of reference for employees who want to understand their rights and the support available to them,” said Suff.
“Employees who have care responsibilities often form a hidden group but can face a number of difficult issues – physical, financial and emotional. Organisations that deal effectively with their obligations towards carers can reap the benefits in terms of enhanced employee engagement and retention,” she added.
The research reveals that carers in the workplace are not an homogeneous group. Caring responsibilities for children can follow a recognised pattern with distinct phases such as pre-school age, primary and secondary school stages. However, caring for someone who is older – or who has an illness or disability – can be highly unpredictable.
“The provision that employers make available to carers needs to take account of this unpredictability and be as flexible as possible,” says Suff.