Workers struggling to combine work with caring responsibilities

25 June 2020

It is estimated that roughly 3.7 million people in England and Wales have the challenge of balancing their caring responsibilities with their jobs. The outbreak of coronavirus has shone a light on this, and exposed the support needs of those who need round-the-clock care.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) commissioned a report, which was written by the University of Sheffield, and focussed on how working carers balance their caring responsibilities with paid employment, and how employers can best support them. A carer is defined as an individual who helps or looks after a family member or friend, as they require care and support due to old age, physical or mental illness, disability or addiction. The report aims to provide businesses with recommendations that can work to create a carer-friendly workplace.

The report introduces three main research questions, which are:

  • What are the challenges working carers face?
  • What forms of support do employers provide for working carers, and does this vary significantly across sectors and types of organisation?
  • How do these forms of support benefit working carers and the organisations for which they work?

The survey involved 970 unpaid carers in England and Wales who were in employment in addition to their care work.

They key findings of the survey demonstrate how:

  • Carers often struggle to balance their caring responsibilities with work commitments
  • Employers could be doing more to support carers in the workplace -  only two-fifths of working carers believed that their employer is carer-friendly. Additionally, over a quarter of those surveyed refrained from discussing their caring role with anyone at their workplace, as they believed that nothing would change from it as a result
  • Providing support to carers benefits both the employee and the employer, as it improves the wellbeing of carers which results in reduced absenteeism and increased retention levels for the business

Other findings highlight the fact that half of working carers feel that their caring responsibilities impact on their ability to do their job, and 46% must use their annual leave in order to provide care. A quarter of employees have also contemplated giving up their job due to their caring role.

CIPP comment

The CIPP will be producing a survey to gather the feedback of members to inform its written response to the BEIS consultation on providing unpaid carers a new right to a week’s worth of leave. The Policy and Research team will announce its publication in News Online but be sure to keep your eyes peeled so that you don’t miss the opportunity to have your say.


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