This can apply to anyone at various times during working lives, whilst commonly expected to mean caring for children many people are also caring for people with disabilities, ill health, or elderly relatives. Very often this responsibility falls to women, many men are now taking parental leave, all genders can be single parents or have other caring responsibilities.
The need for a better approach to supporting people with caring responsibilities is needed more than ever as we move to a more inclusive workforce and people are working longer.
The Plymouth report cites over 27,000 carers based on the 2011 census and 9990 children living in poverty (NB pre-pandemic)
Why is this important?
We have a finite pool of talent to meet the needs of the labour market. Employers risk not being able to fill vacancies or build their business if they confine employment opportunities to people without caring responsibilities. A broader, more diverse workforce can add significant value to the workplace and improve productivity especially if combined with Flexible working.
How will this benefit the employees?
Employees are more likely to stay in employment when their caring responsibilities can be met. When caring responsibilities can fit within a flexible working package it allows people to maintain income and lifestyle for their families.
If a period of short-term care is needed e.g., for elderly relatives, employees are often happy to take leave or work additional hours later.
How will this benefit employers?
When employers have invested in their workers that are parents there is a risk, they can lose that investment and skills base after a period of maternity/paternity/adoption leave. With a policy to support parents and carers employers can maximise their investment in people, retain skills and retain a valuable, committed workforce.
"employers can maximise their investment in people, retain skills and retain a valuable, committed workforce."
Where to start
Be aware that your workforce may include people who have caring responsibilities for a number of people e.g., children and elderly parents, friends and family with health challenges.
Decide how flexible your employment could be to accommodate ‘out of hours’ or ‘work from home’ options to support delivery. Flexible working also needs to be able to support the business needs.
Assess your current workforce and policies for their suitability for parents or care givers.
Discuss with your teams how a more flexible workforce could benefit them, their families and support the business.
Adopt a policy to support parents and care givers.
Adopt a flexible working policy, with clear guidelines on what works for your business and how it can be adapted.
Enable employees to network with other people with caring responsibilities for support.
Adopt a flexible working policy, with clear guidelines on what works for your business and how it can be adapted: See the guide to flexible working on the Gov.uk site
How to achieve changes
Speak to people in your organisation, ask how flexible working could help both them and your business. This is a two-way conversation.
Seek help from organisations who can support.