5 ways you can support employees who have caring responsibilities

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Gail Izat

June 11, 2024

3 mins read

Balancing work with caring responsibilities can be tricky for a lot of people. We look at a few things employers need to be aware of – and five things they can do to support employees.

In a 2023 Carers UK survey, 40% of unpaid carers reported that they had given up work because of their caring responsibilities, while 22% had cut down on their working hours. More than half of those who had left the workforce or reduced their hours said they did so due to the stress of juggling work and care.

In April this year, the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 came into force, which gives employees the right to take unpaid leave to look after a dependant. This could apply to some of your own employees.

As an employer, you can play a key role in looking after the wellbeing of employees who provide care. By doing so, you can help them balance their work with their personal commitments, and help them feel valued.

Employees may not see themselves as carers

Typically, a carer is someone who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help due to illness, frailty, disability, mental health or addiction and couldn’t cope without their support.

On average, it takes a person two years to recognise themselves as a carer. Many people may think they’re just being a helpful friend or family member.

But by not shying away from talking about caring, you could help employees realise that they are, in fact, carers. Doing so might encourage them to take up the support you offer, which could make a positive difference to both their mental and physical wellbeing.

1. Promote flexible working arrangements

Flexible working could make it easier for employees to navigate their caring responsibilities. For example, being able to flex their hours could allow an employee to take a loved one to hospital appointments – without having to give up work completely. 

So it’s worth checking that the flexible working arrangements you offer line up with the potential needs of carers.

2. Set up and advertise a carers network

You could set up a carers network to help connect working carers with others in similar situations. 

This gives them the opportunity to share their experiences, helping them feel less alone. It can also give them a space to discuss the support they’re receiving at work – which could allow you to get valuable feedback. 

3. Signpost to carers charities

Working carers may benefit from getting more information about managing the emotional, practical and financial sides of caring. But they might not always know where to start. So it’s worthwhile pointing them in the direction of charities like Carers UK.

4. Provide manager training

It’s important to train managers to ensure they can identify the needs of the working carers and offer them the right support. Training can also help managers understand how to approach conversations about caring with sensitivity and understanding.

You could share materials with managers to help them understand what caring can involve so they have a better idea of how employees are affected.

5. Offer an EAP that helps with the emotional impact of caring

Employees may find it harder to balance work with caring responsibilities if they’re feeling overwhelmed. You could help by offering an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that provides support to help reduce employees’ stress.

What about employees’ financial future?

Caring responsibilities can have a knock-on effect on employees’ financial futures. For instance, if they reduce their working hours, this could lower the amount of contributions going into their pension pot – including those from their employer. That means they could end up with less money in retirement. Leaving work can also have an impact on the amount of State Pension they get. 

It’s important for employees to understand how caring responsibilities in the here and now could affect their retirement. To help, you could share The impact of caring for others on your retirement with them.

If your employees are with Standard Life for their workplace pension scheme, they can also get support with managing their money through Money Mindset*, our financial wellbeing platform. This allows them to see where their money’s going, set savings goals, and create budgets, helping them feel more in control of their financial future. They can also use Money Mindset’s state benefits finder to check if they might be eligible for any benefits. 

For more insights on financial wellbeing, including resources on how you can help support your employees, visit our Financial Wellbeing hub and read our articles.


*Provided by Moneyhub Financial Technology Limited

The information here is based on our understanding June 2024.

Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information on external websites. These are provided for general information.

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