Joe’s wife has cancer. She has frequent hospital appointments and days when she feels so ill she needs someone at home to care for her, change her clothes and bedding, and help her stay clean and hydrated. Joe has no idea whether the treatment will be successful, or how he will support his wife and children if he loses his job. 
Sarah’s daughter has a mental health problem. Most of the time it is manageable. Occasionally her behaviour leads to exclusion from school, visits from Social Services, or self-harming. When this happens, Sarah needs to take time off work to supervise her daughter and, hopefully, prevent her from hurting herself or others. She hates asking her boss for time off again, but she is a single parent and there is no one else who can help – especially as Sarah is also worried that Social Services might take her child into care if they think her mother isn’t coping. 
Bill’s father was seriously ill last year, and now needs someone to cook his meals, give his medication 4 times a day, get him up in the mornings and put him to bed. Bill really struggles if he is asked to work away from home, or come into work early to help with a rush job. 
If these employees worked for you, would you know? 
If their attendance or punctuality dropped, would you issue a warning? Or would you know how to talk to them to see if you could make any changes, such as offering to flex their hours to help them cope with home and work life? 
Would they know they could come and discuss their needs with you, and that you would be able to offer more than just moral support? 
Do you have any policies in place to help in situations like this? 
A research report for Carers Week 2016 found there are 3 main barriers for employees with caring responsibilities. 
1. 38% don’t feel comfortable talking about caring while they are at work 
2. 35% say their employer doesn’t understand their caring role 
3. 33% say their employer doesn’t have policies in place to support carers. 
60% of carers surveyed said they had given up work, or reduced their hours to enable them to care. 
Another report, this time by the CIPD and Westfield Health, found that only 20% of private sector employers even know how many carers they employ. Yet, this issue is likely to touch most organisations - on average, one in nine employees currently cares for a relative, partner or friend. 
The Carer’s Week report recommends employers could take these carer-friendly actions 
• Introduce and promote flexible working policies. 
• Introduce paid care leave so that carers are not forced to take annual leave for caring emergencies or to support the person they care for, for example at health appointments. 
• Set up, or encourage staff to set up a carers’ staff network. 
• Ensure that there is regular communication to employees informing them of their rights, including their right to request flexible working and take emergency time off to care for dependents when they need it. 
When the going gets tough for your staff, do you tell them to get going, or do you show them that you care about them, value them, and want to support them? 
If you’d like to talk about supporting carers in your workplace, but don’t really know where to start, get in touch today. We can help you show you care. 
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