Tips for Professionals
Tips for Professionals
Guidance for Line Managers / Team Leaders
Supporting Working Carers
A carer can be anyone of any age who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, mental ill health, or an addiction and could not cope without their support.
The term ‘carer’ can be misused. Carers may or may not live with the person they are caring for and may share the care with others in the family or with professionals.
Carers will be from any social background and be any age giving practical and emotional support.
1 in 7 of the workforces are carers
1 in 5 of those work for the NHS
What is the economic and business case for supporting carers in work?
Far from compromising business objectives, research shows that using a flexible working approach to support carers can achieve impressive business results. It.
- Attracts and retains staff
- Reduces stress
- Reduces recruitment and training costs
- Increases productivity
- Reduces sick leave (Carers UK)
Caring for someone can happen to anyone of us at any time.
Many staff will be caring for someone and will not identify themselves as a carer because they see this as part of their normal relationship with the person they care for.
Challenges of caring
- how unpredictable it can be.
- it can involve making difficult decisions which weigh on your mind and distract you at work.
- dealing with difficult emotions, such as dealing with terminal illness, worrying about the safety of your loved ones, struggling to keep up with social relationships, and many more.
Often people are very private in the workplace about their caring situations and try to absorb these challenges without telling anybody for many reasons.
Some carers find work is their lifeline for finance or identity reasons
If staff feel that their managers care about their Health & Wellbeing it creates a more positive environment where employees feel supported and valued, this is a win-win situation – if we have happier and more engaged staff who feel supported this leads to benefits for the Trust and its patients.
Carers may find that the best way to manage their work and caring responsibilities is to change their working arrangements, on a temporary or permanent basis, they may also need to take leave at short notice to deal with emergencies.
You may not have previously supported an employee who is a carer. It is important to start conversations early with employees, being honest and open in the support available to them to ensure they feel fully supported to remain in work and have a healthy work life balance.
Carers do have statutory rights to address these needs.
The Work and Families Act 2006 and the Employment Rights Act 1996 give working carers rights to help them balance work and caring.
Flexible working is to help staff with caring responsibilities to continue working
Examples can be
- home working
- part-time working
- term-time working
- working staggered hours
- working compressed hours
Can an employer refuse a flexible working request?
Employers can refuse a request and must give a good sound business reasons to why and this must be explained in writing. Managers should link with their HR to discuss these requests in more detail before declining any request.
If the request is rejected, the employee can appeal in writing within 14 days of notification and an appeal meeting must be held.
ACAS also produces guidance on the right to request flexible working
Special Leave is normally short-term and may be with or without pay and intended to help staff balance the dual demands of their home and work responsibilities at times of unforeseen need.
Special Leave is not intended to help with long-term domestic, family, and caring needs which may be more appropriately provided for by the Trust’s Policy for Flexible Working.
Encourage staff to be open with their situation. It is difficult for you to offer support if you are not aware of what they are dealing with.
Some of the reasons staff may not identify as a carer
The person they care for may be using our services
- Do not want to be seen as different
- Would people judge them or their cared for
- Would not be understood
- May affect job opportunities
Signs to look out for to suggest they may be a carer
- Appear tired
- Off sick frequently
- On their phone a lot
Think about opportunities when you could have a conversation with the staff member, for example
- wellness conversations
- one to one meeting
Here are some suggestions that managers can use to start a conversation:
- How are things with you, you seem a bit more tired these days?
- You appear distracted lately is there anything you would like to talk to me about?
- Is there anything I can do to support you I know you have been through a difficult time recently?
- You seem to cope well with everything that has happened to you, is there anything I can help you with?
You should respect the employee's confidentiality concerning this information.
Good practice where possible is to have a contingency plan in place if they must leave suddenly as this can reduce stress levels for you both.