When trained, skilled and experienced staff leave the workforce there are significant costs to the employer (loss of productivity, recruitment, and training of replacement staff).
There are also costs to the employee and his/her family, (loss of income and skills, and confidence). It really is in both the employer's and employees’ interest to have a discussion to see if this can be avoided.


1.1. Introduction

There are currently over three million Working Carers in the UK. They often feel as if they are juggling two jobs and the additional pressure that caring brings means that they may feel they have to leave the workforce or reduce their work hours or their level of responsibility. In fact, 1 in every 5 employees with caring responsibilities ends up giving up work in the UK.

There is increasing recognition from the government and employers of the need to support carers in the workforce. Not only do carers have legal rights in the workplace but there is growing evidence that forward-thinking employers are offering staff with caring role support at work which is above and beyond their legal entitlements.

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1.2. What is a Carer?

We all know someone who is a carer; they just might not recognize themselves as one.

A Carer is someone who cares for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem, or an addiction, cannot cope without their support. The care they provide is unpaid.

A carer may be a parent, husband or wife, son or daughter, friend or neighbor who provides support to someone on a regular basis. In addition to providing care, Working Carers are also in employment.

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1.3. What Carers do?

Carers come from very diverse backgrounds and have very different caring circumstances. The nature and intensity of their caring role can vary greatly depending upon the condition of the cared for.

Some carers might provide a couple of hours of care a week to a friend with mental health problems, whilst others provide assistance around the clock to a family member with a physical disability or dementia.
Some carers don’t live with the person they cared for and this often can increase the time commitment with additional travel.
Some carers provide assistance with personal care to a disabled child, others provide emotional support to an elderly friend.
Some carers play an important role in accessing medical treatment including taking care of appointments and administering their medications. Mostly a caring role involves the coordination of services, liaising with professionals, and filling application forms for benefits or other entitlements.
For some carers, their role changes over time. Sometimes the cared for no longer needs care, but sometimes only a couple of hours of care can gradually increase to providing up to 40 hours or more of care.

Caring tasks can include the following duties:

  • Practical household tasks such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, gardening, paying bills, and financial management.
  • Personal care such as bathing, dressing, lifting, administering medication, and collecting prescriptions.
  • Emotional support such as listening, offering advice, and friendship.
  • Companionship such as supporting someone to go out into the community for shopping and to attend appointments.

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1.4. Impact of Caring

Caring for someone can be a rewarding role, but it can also be very demanding. Carers often put the needs of the cared-for first and don’t take notice of how their caring role has impacted their own life. Depending on the support needs of the cared-for person, caring can mean less time for socializing, emotional exhaustion, hard physical work, lack of physical exercise, disrupted sleep, and often extra costs.

Health and wellbeing: Caring can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Carers may not have enough time to be physically active or to cook healthy food. Responsibilities often involve lifting and carrying therefore some health problems, like back problems, anxiety, and depression can be linked to caring.

Financial challenges: Caring can mean extra costs and greater financial hardship because caring families often have to find money for extra expenses like laundry, disability aids, health care, and transport. Carers can also struggle to focus on their career and often give up full-time employment to care for a loved one.

Social isolation and relationships: Many carers find it hard to make time for themselves, to socialize, or to carry on with their hobbies or interests. Carers can feel a loss of identity or that their life is different from others.

Employment: Many carers miss out on important life opportunities, particularly for paid work, a career, and education. Caring for someone can impact work performance, due to absenteeism, tiredness, or having difficulty concentrating.

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