Being a carer is very challenging and more so when you are working a full-time job.
Employees can struggle to juggle both personal and professional commitments and this can negatively impact their heath and wellbeing, work performance and ability to focus on their daily tasks. If it all gets too much for them, it can also lead to absences from work or resignations.
However, with some support from their employer, employees can be better equipped to manage the challenges they face when caring for their partner, children or other dependants.
Employers should be having frequent one to ones with their employees. These meetings give employees the opportunity to speak privately with their line manager and talk about what support they specifically need.
Outside of these meetings, it is beneficial to have clear and well-defined communication channels and to create a workplace culture where it is encouraged for employers to talk about their worries without recrimination.
Remember that employees are under no legal obligation to disclose that they are caring for others. They may wish to keep this matter private because they are afraid that they will be treated differently or that it will hamper their career progression.
Make sure your managers have relevant training
Your line managers need to be aware of the demands that carers face, what type of support is available and the policies in place which could help them.
Offer them appropriate support
Make employees aware of the different types of support on offer – you may have in-house support groups, links with charities or counselling services, partnerships with the local council or an Employee Assistance Programme.
Allow some flexibility
If you can be flexible, you could allow the employee to take some time away from their workstation to take a call or let them leave work a little early. These types of measures can be really beneficial to the employee and not cause too much disruption to your organisation.
Consider flexible working arrangements
Providing flexible working may be able to help you retain your skilled staff who were thinking of leaving because they couldn’t do the standard hours, start at the time expected or deal with the lengthy commute. Rather than wait for them to request flexible working, you can take the lead and offer them appropriate arrangements according to their job role and the nature of their work. Some examples of possible flexible working include flexi-time, compressed hours, annualised hours, job shares or home working.
Download our free Employer’s Definitive Guide to Flexible Working to find out more.
Provide time off for dependants
Under the Employment Rights Act, all employees are entitled to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off to deal with emergencies and unforeseen matters involving a dependant.
A dependant could be a spouse or civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives in the same household of the employee (this does not apply to tenants or lodgers).
The law states that an employee has the right to be allowed time off by their employer during the employee’s working hours:
- to help if a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted
- to make care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured
- as a result of a death of a dependant
- to cope with unexpected disruptions, termination or breakdown in care arrangements for the dependant
- to manage an unexpected incident which involves the employee’s child during school time.
Employers are no duty to pay them, but you may decide to do in order to provide further support.
If you would like specific advice, contact your Employment Law Adviser who can provide you with guidance.