How to Recognise and Support Carers in the Community
Carers Week takes place between 5-11 June this year. This year’s theme is about recognising and showing support for carers in the community. As we know from Business in the Community’s (BITC) Who Cares? report, unpaid care directly impacts working lives, with almost half (44%) of the UK workforce combining paid work with care and four in 10 saying their caring responsibilities have prevented them from applying for a job or a promotion. The report shows that women disproportionately undertake unpaid care and has a greater impact on those from ethnically diverse backgrounds regarding both inclusion and progression in the workplace.
Recent stats emerging from the Census 2021 have shown that 10.3% of females in England provided unpaid care compared to 7.6% of males. In Wales, this was 12.0% of females compared with 9.0% of males.
Many carers are unable to balance work and care – some 600 people give up work due to caring each day2, and caring comes with additional financial costs too. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that many carers often use their own income or savings to pay for support services and care equipment and, as a result, are much more likely to be living in poverty3.
Ethnically diverse carers are more likely to be struggling financially. Over half (58%) of unpaid carers from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse people said they were worried about their finances at the start of the pandemic, compared to 37% of White carers4.
The cost-of-living crisis has meant carers are facing unprecedented financial pressure. A study by Carers UK 5 found that a quarter of carers are cutting back on essentials like food or heating compared to almost half that (13%) last year. 63% are extremely worried about managing their monthly costs, with 77% stating the rising cost of living as one of the main challenges facing them in the next year. The cost- of- living crisis not only has a toll on financial health but also has a negative impact on carers’ mental and physical health (62%).
The recent legislation to provide for carers leave will make working life much better for carers6. However carers will still need wider support from their employers to help them to balance work and care.
Recommendations for employers
BITC’s Who Cares? report calls on employers and policymakers to transform how we think about combining paid work and care. These are our recommendations for employers:
- Consider caring the norm, not the exception.
- Champion equitable access to care for all genders, men and women, in your policies, and foster a culture that supports men to care.
- Promote flexible working, and embed it as a normal working arrangement from day one on the job, and which is promoted directly to men. Flexible working is the most popular workplace adjustment for working carers7. Remember that carers will benefit from being able to flex their job in terms of hours as well as days, allowing them shorter time periods away from work. For example, to accompany those they care for to appointments without having to book a whole day off.
Download the Who Cares? report to find out more.
- The Support For Every Carer At Work factsheet includes case studies that show how BITC members have supported their carers at work.
- The Supporting Carers in the Workplace toolkit includes how to develop appropriate policies and practices.
- Download the Times Top 50 Report 2022, where there is a section on family-friendly policies and includes existing work in this area, as well as case studies and examples of best practice.
- The Equal Parental Leave toolkit supports conversations on why equal parental leave is important, highlights its costs and benefits and describes how best to implement a successful equal parental leave policy.
- The Natwest Group: creating a culture that empowers men to care case study, outlines how Natwest Group recently made headlines for significant changes to its parental leave policies that promote gender equality.
- BITC’s Cost-of-Living Action Plan for Businesses. This factsheet sets out 12 calls to action to address the economic crisis, and highlights tangible actions focusing on supporting employees, communities, customers and suppliers.
If you are not yet a BITC member, join us to improve your responsible business strategy.
FAIRER, GREENER, TOGETHER
3 Carers UK, Key facts and figures
4 State of Caring 2022 (November 2022) A snapshot of unpaid care in the UK, (PDF).
5 Carers UK (2022) State of Caring 2022 report
6 UK Parliament (2023) ‘Carers Leave Act’
7 Business in the Community (2019) ‘Equal Lives: Parenthood and caring in the workplace’