Offering employees ‘carer support’ would keep more of this pressured group in the workplace, says RedArc, following Carers UK releasing concerning figures that show 600 people a day leave their job due to the demands of being a carer.
According to the charity, 15 per cent (or one in seven) of the working population are now looking after an elderly, ill or disabled relative, meaning that almost five million people are trying to balance the demands of working and caring. Whilst Carers UK is calling for new flexible working rights and additional paid leave for this group, RedArc believes employers could stem the flow by offering more support either directly or via the added-value benefits within protection products such as Group Protection and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc said: “Almost every employer is likely to have carers amongst their staff and if these members of staff are unable to cope with both their role at work and with their caring commitments, they may well follow the current trend and hand in their notice – potentially leaving business-critical gaps in the workforce.
“Employers don’t need to wait until they either lose staff or legislation is passed, but instead by working with their intermediary or insurance provider, they can source a policy that provides the types of support that will benefit the carers amongst their staff.”
RedArc’s experience shows that carers have quite specific support requirements that necessitate help from someone who really understands their mental and physical wellbeing needs. This group may often deal with catastrophic changes in a loved one but may not feel able to share the experience with their line manager at work. Understandably, performance and productivity can be impaired by tiredness and stress; and feelings of isolation, frustration and anger are common.
Because every situation is different, taking the time to understand what would really help is very important talking therapies are the most common type of support required, as well as help to arrange respite care and advice on financial and health matters for their loved one.
In addition, RedArc is also concerned about the financial wellbeing of those employees who feel it necessary to leave their job in order to cope as a carer, as their income can be substantially reduced on a carer’s allowance. Devising a way to remain in work, and balance their caring responsibilities is usually preferential from both a financial and mental wellbeing point of view.
Christine Husbands continued: “Employees’ situations change over time and so a member of staff may see their caring role grow from being fairly manageable to all-consuming over a number of months or years. However, an employer could be totally unaware of this change in circumstances and uncomfortable in asking about an employee’s home life.
“We want to encourage employers to speak to their advisers about offering carer support to their staff, and for more insurers to consider including this as an added-value benefit in order to support the often overlooked fifteen per cent of employees who both work and care.”