Employers call on Government to offer more support for working carers

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Research published today by Jelf Employee Benefits highlights a gulf in employer knowledge and Government support regarding workers that also double as carers in their non-work time.

Over 350 employers from across England and Wales took part in the survey, which found that almost nine in 10 employers (89%) wanted greater emphasis and encouragement from Government towards the provision of “carer” employee benefits. The comprehensive result suggests that Government should perhaps include this important issue as part of the Prime Minister’s new vision of a Shared Society.

The survey also found that 83% of employers did not believe they are aware of all employees who act as carers in their non-work time.

“The number of unpaid carers in the UK is estimated at 6.5 million*,” says Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Jelf Employee Benefits. “Many of these carers are also struggling to maintain paid jobs in addition to their caring duties.

“Evidence suggests* that such carers are often forced to turn down promotions, reduce their hours, or even leave the workplace altogether as a result of their caring duties. Any or all of these outcomes may be problematic and costly for their employer, damaging to the carer’s finances, and can only worsen the UK’s already poor productivity figures.  This is an issue that all stakeholders should really wish to address at the earliest opportunity.”

Jelf Employee Benefits point out that the challenges faced by working carers are similar to those faced by many working parents. Yet, while the Government is this year launching a new initiative (Tax Free Childcare) to help parents, as yet there are no plans in place to support other carers in the workplace.

“The 2017 Jelf Employee Benefits survey highlights that the issue of working carers is a hidden one for many private, public and third sector organisations,” continues Steve Herbert. “Just 13% of employers believed that they are aware of all employees who double as carers in their non-work time. It is apparent that this important working demographic is currently operating below the radar of most employers.  Now is the time for both employers and Government to wake up to the reality of the challenges faced by those carers who are also holding down paid employment.

“We would strongly encourage employers to establish the number and needs of their working carers and provide support through their existing benefits offering as appropriate.

“Finally, and certainly not least, we call on the Government to consider extending the scope of state financial support for carers beyond only those with childcare issues.”

The 2017 Jelf Employment Survey was undertaken at seminars in London, Cardiff, Chester, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol in the second half of 2016.

 

Question data

Question 10
Would you like to see a greater emphasis & encouragement from Government towards “Carer” employee benefits in the future?
Yes 310 88.83%
No 5 1.43%
Don’t know 34 9.74%
Number of responses 349
Survey dates and locations London 08/07/16, Leeds 21/09/16, Manchester 05/10/16, Bristol 10/11/16

 

Question 11
Do you believe that your company is aware of all employees who are “carers” in their non-work time?
Yes 46 12.92%
No 295 82.87%
Don’t know 15 4.21%
Number of responses 356
Survey dates and locations  London 08/07/16, Leeds 21/09/16, Manchester 05/10/16, Bristol 10/11/16

 

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About the author

Steve Herbert is an award-winning thought leader on Pensions and Employee Benefit issues. His principal aim is better communicating the value and usage of employee benefits to employers. This he has achieved through many (highly successful) seminar series over the last decade, and his regular and widely read blog posts on the subject.
He also acts as a judge in HR and Employee Benefits industry awards, article writer, and product innovator. Steve is a regular contributor to DWP forums and compulsive responder to formal Government Consultations on pension and employee benefit issues. He is occasionally accused of making employee benefits interesting.