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Recognising and Supporting Employee Carers

12 Jun
by Suzie Business Owner & Senior HRBP

Carers Week (10th – 16th June) is an annual campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the challenges faced by unpaid carers and recognising the invaluable contributions they make to families and communities across the UK. This week reminds us of the importance of supporting carers, who often juggle their caregiving responsibilities with work and other commitments.

The value of unpaid care provided by carers was estimated at £162 billion per year in England and Wales.

The Importance of Carers in the Workforce

Carers, individuals who provide unpaid care for a family member or friend with a disability, illness, or ageing-related needs, represent a significant portion of the workforce. Balancing work and caregiving can be incredibly challenging, leading to stress, burnout, and reduced productivity. Employers who recognise and support their carers’ employees can improve their well-being and enhance workplace morale and productivity.

How Employers Can Recognise and Support Carers

1. Flexible Working Arrangements

One of the most effective ways to support employee carers is by offering flexible working arrangements. This could include:

– Flexible Hours: Carers can adjust their start and finish times to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities.

– Remote Work: Providing the option to work from home can reduce the stress of commuting and allow carers to manage their time more effectively.

– Part-Time Work: Enabling carers to work part-time or job share can help them balance their work and caregiving duties.

2. Carer-Friendly Policies

Carer’s Leave Act 2023 came into force in April 2024.

This leave is a day-one right, available to all employees without any qualifying period. It applies to anyone caring for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent or other dependant who needs care because of a disability, old age or any illness or injury likely to require at least three months’ care. This leave is unpaid. The maximum duration of the leave is one week per year. While employers can’t deny an employee’s request for carer’s leave, they can postpone it if they reasonably consider that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted if it were approved.

Implementing carer-friendly policies can create a supportive work environment. These policies might include:

– Carer Leave: Offering paid or unpaid leave specifically for carers can help them manage emergencies or regular caregiving duties without financial stress.

– Emergency Leave: Allowing short-term leave for sudden or unexpected caregiving needs.

3. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

EAPs can provide carers access to counselling, legal advice, and other resources to help them manage their responsibilities. These programmes can offer invaluable support, reducing stress and improving mental health.

 4. Carer Networks and Support Groups

Creating internal networks or support groups for carers can provide them a platform to share experiences, advice, and support. This can foster a sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation.

5. Training for Managers

Training managers to recognise the signs of carer stress and understand carers’ unique challenges can lead to a more empathetic and supportive management style. Managers can then better support their team members by providing necessary accommodations and flexibility.

 6. Raising Awareness

Raising awareness about the challenges carers face through internal communications and campaigns can help build a more supportive workplace culture. Encouraging open discussions about caregiving responsibilities can lead to greater understanding and support among colleagues.

 7. Recognition and Appreciation

Regularly recognising and appreciating the efforts of employee carers can boost morale and reinforce the value they bring to the organisation. This could be through formal recognition programmes, awards, or simple gestures of appreciation.


Supporting employee carers is not just a compassionate choice; it’s a smart business decision. By implementing carer-friendly policies and fostering a supportive work environment, employers can help carers balance their responsibilities, leading to a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce. Carers Week is an excellent opportunity to start or enhance these initiatives, ensuring that carers feel valued and supported in their vital roles at home and work.

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