Supporting Nottinghamshire's Unpaid Carers at Work

Posted 07.09.2020

The recent pandemic has brought into sharp focus the issue of carers and the important role they play in our society.  We have seen and heard lots about the impact on carers – our marvellous NHS and social care workers.  However, there is another group of people we should also not neglect, those are our unpaid carers, many of whom are your colleagues at work.  Pre-Covid it was estimated over 9 million people were providing care and this has now increased to more than 13 million, with nearly 5 million of those combining care responsibilities alongside work.

Nottinghamshire Carers Association (NCA) wants to partner with organisations of all sizes – major employers to small businesses – to demonstrate how by making some small adjustments you can become a recognised carer-friendly organisation.  By working with NCA through their Carers in Employment initiative, they will help you to identify carers in your organisation, build a programme of support, offer assistance in reviewing HR policies and train a carer’s champion.  This initial service is free of charge and is open to all employers in Nottinghamshire county.

So, what is an unpaid carer?  Carers UK defines it as “Anyone who has unpaid responsibilities for the care and support of relatives or friends who are older, disabled, seriously ill (physically or mentally) and unable to care for themselves.  The person you care for does not have to live with you.”

It is more important now that organisations are more carer-friendly.  There are business, legal and moral arguments, but the bottom line is that unpaid carers already exist in your organisation, even if they have not identified themselves as such.  And, with the impact of Covid-19, this number is likely to increase.

Whatever the size of your organisation, becoming a carer-friendly workplace makes good business sense, it helps to recruit and retain staff, and is likely to reduced stress, absenteeism and training costs.  Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development indicates that working carers who feel supported at work are less likely to find it difficult to concentrate, be more productive, and less likely to be considering reducing their hours or quitting their jobs.

Legislatively, there are already some protections under the Employment Rights Act 1996, Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.

Giving our unpaid carers the support to manage their caring responsibilities alongside their paid work will benefit them, their families and their employer.  If your organisation would like to partner with NCA, you can attend one of the webinars by contacting Jayne Davies, Employment Engagement Worker at Nottinghamshire Carers Association.

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