A fifth of over-45s expect to quit work to care for relatives

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One in five (19%) employees aged over 45 expects to quit their job to care for an adult relative full time, according to research from Aviva.

Women (20%) were more likely to anticipate leaving their job to look after a partner or relative to minimise care bills than men (17%), its survey of more than 2,000 employees aged 45 and over found.

Many staff at this stage in life were facing pressure to cut their career short to support both older and younger generations: one in 10 expected to leave work to care for children or grandchildren.

However, just 6% of employers viewed caring pressures as a significant issue for their staff.

Aviva managing director Lindsey Rix said: “The practical, financial and emotional costs of caring for relatives both young and old are forcing many people in mid-life to make increasingly difficult decisions about balancing their commitments. Mid-life is the fastest growing age demographic in the UK workforce, so we can expect these pressures to grow.

“It is concerning to see that only a small percentage of employers are prioritising the issue of care. The need to care for carers must rise up our list of priorities.”

Aviva has introduced a carers’ policy which provides up to 70 hours of additional leave for employees with caring responsibilities and it was piloting a partnership with SuperCarers, which helps people find a suitable carer for their relative.

Centrica, which earlier this year called on the government to introduce paid leave for carers, offers 10 days’ paid leave to all its carers, followed by another 10 days that can be taken if matched with annual leave.

Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager for the Centre for Ageing Better, said millions of people across the UK work as unpaid carers for relatives or friends, so employers needed to do more to accommodate them.

“In the future, more and more people will be balancing caring responsibilities with working. It’s vital that our workplaces are able to accommodate carers’ needs – or we will see increasing numbers forced out of work in the years to come,” he said. “This means making flexible working the default option for everyone, legislating to introduce flexible, paid carers’ leave, and giving carers a right to return to the same job.”

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