Many employers across all sectors are already working to support employees with a caring role because they see the benefits it brings to their businesses.

Many of the adjustments an employer can make have no or small direct cost implications. On this page of our e-learning course, you will find more information about what you can do to secure the sustainability and health of your company by being a carer-friendly employer.


1.1. - Introduction

Currently, over 3 million people juggle paid work with unpaid caring responsibilities.

Statistically, if you employ 10 staff at least one person will be juggling work with a caring role. If you employ 100 staff over 10 will have a caring role.

Across the UK more people than ever are living with a disability and or long-term health conditions and the number will only increase over the next 20 years. Government cuts to Local Authority budgets mean that we are seeing reductions in services they offer to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions. This increases the pressure on families to provide the necessary care and support.

Businesses are now feeling the impact as one in five working carers (skilled and experienced staff) have to give up work to provide care to a family member or friend. That is a huge cost to businesses and one which can be reduced.

Added to this we have an aging workforce (with later state pension ages) and fewer young people entering the jobs market. The impact of Brexit on the jobs market is not fully known or understood but indications are that it may be more difficult to attract staff with the skills and experience businesses need to enable them to grow.

Many employers across all sectors are already working to support employees with a caring role because they see the benefits it brings to their businesses. Many of the adjustments an employer can make have no or small direct cost implications.

The proven benefits include;

  • Reduction in sick leave and absenteeism
  • Increased staff loyalty
  • Better staff morale and productivity increase
  • Being seen as an employer that cares about its staff makes it more attractive to existing staff and more attractive to recruits

So what we know is that every employer, every business, is likely to have employees who have a caring role and the number will only grow over the next 20 years.

In this part of our e-learning course, you will find more information about what you can do to secure the sustainability and health of your company by being a carer-friendly employer.

Back to Contents

1.2. - What is a Carer?

We all know someone who is a carer; they just might not recognise 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 regularly. In addition to providing care, Working Carers are also in employment.

Back to Contents

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 assist 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 assist 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

Back to Contents

1.4. - Facts about Carers

Do you know how many of your staff are likely to be carers?

If you employ 10 staff 1 is likely to be a carer

If you employ 50 staff 6 are likely to be a carer

If you employ 100 staff 11 are likely to be a carer

Some quick statistics:

  • Six million people have a caring role in the UK and this number continues to rise
  • The estimated number of carers is 9 million in the UK by 2037
  • 1 in 10 people in any workplace have a caring role
  • 90% of working carers are aged 30 plus (in their prime employment years)
  • The peak age for caring is 45-64 when many employees will have gained valuable skills and experience
  • 1 in 5 people have to give up work to care
  • 58% of carers are female and 42% of them are male

Resources: 2011 Census, Carers UK/University of Leeds: Managing Caring and Employment

Back to Contents

1.5. - Benefits to Employers

Evidence has shown that supporting carers with good practice and flexible working arrangements*:

1. Increases employee engagement

Better employee engagement is a key element for better business outcomes. Employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged.

2. Attracts and retains experienced staff

Staff turnover costs were found to be on average just over £6000** and new employees take up to eight months to reach optimum productivity levels. By providing flexibility, which allows staff to balance work and care, your organisation is more likely to hold on to experienced employees.

3. Reduces stress and sick leave

Stress can show up as high staff turnover, an increase in sickness absence, reduced work performance, poor timekeeping, and more customer complaints and cost you a lot of money at the same time. Simple changes to help reduce stress need not cost you anything at all. When employees are happy with their jobs, they are much less likely to experience stress and perform better.

4. Reduces recruitment and training costs

The more experienced an employee, the higher the costs to replace them if they leave. The majority of working carers are aged between the peak working ages of 50-64, so failing to hold onto these experienced workers represents a significant loss of investment to the employer, of resources, time, and knowledge.

5. Improves service delivery and increases productivity

If you look after your staff, they will look after your customers. Providing flexible provisions for employees such as extended start and finish times can also enhance the customer experience by providing services outside of standard business hours.

6. Produces cost savings

There is a strong link between wellbeing interventions and financial benefits for employers, from reduced presenteeism and absenteeism, staff turnover, and improved productivity and performance. Implementing flexible work practices can help your organisation to focus on outcomes, rather than concentrating on the hours that employees are at their desks.

7. Improves people management

When you remove obstacles and provide support and wellbeing practices for working carers you will also improve other workers’ experience and overall happiness in the workplace.

8. Increases staff morale and loyalty

Employees who feel they are understood and supported by their employer are more likely to be loyal and productive workers. Investing in services and support for employees that foster a positive environment will improve the workplace experience of all employees, and this culture can flow through the entire organisation.

9. Making team working more effective

Employees respond well to the perception of fairness in the workplace, both in terms of how the employee is treated and how they see their co-workers being treated.

10. Commitment to corporate social responsibility

Taking head of your social impact is a good way to increase competitive advantage, protect and raise brand awareness and build relationships with customers and employees. By working in partnership with local communities, such as your local carer centre, you can demonstrate your commitment to corporate social responsibility and social inclusion for your staff.

*Who Cares Wins – Report for Carers UK by Centre for Social Inclusion Sheffield Hallam University

**Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) survey

Back to Contents


The Impact of Caring - OECD Research

Workforce Retention – Research

Who Cares Wins – Carers UK