Best practice to support carers in the workplace

What are the most progressive employers doing for carers?

carers in the workplace


Some of the more progressive employers are going above and beyond to support the carers in their workforce. Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, has been supporting working carers for over 15 years. The organisation currently employs over 1,100 registered carers, but estimates that 60% of their 30,000 employees will be carers at some point in their working lives.

Some of the measures the organisation has put in place include flexible working for carers from day one of employment, a month of paid carers’ leave and a carers’ network that provides peer support and advice.

As a result, Centrica has seen significant business benefits, including attracting and retaining a diverse and skilled workforce, amongst many others.

“By having a carers’ policy in place, it reduces turnover, cuts recruitment and training costs, retains talent and experience, builds resilience and improves employee engagement and wellbeing,” comments Simi Dubb, director of diversity and inclusion at Centrica.

“As a company, we have saved an estimated £1.8 million a year by providing paid leave and peer support to help our carers avoid unplanned absences and presenteeism. On a national level, if UK businesses were to implement flexible working policies, it is projected that up to £4.8 billion could be saved a year.”

Early adoption

The Charity for Civil Servants and BT pioneered the adoption of ‘carer passports’ which enable employees to leave their workplace to carry out urgent caring responsibilities without the need to take annual leave and sick days.

In addition BT, which chaired the Employers for Carers network for many years, is one of several employers who have a carers’ network through which employees can feed ideas to management, organise events and share experiences with each other.

Supermarkets led the move towards carer policies in the retail sector. In 2010 Sainsbury’s partnered with Carers UK and Employers for Carers to promote flexible working to staff with caring responsibilities. And in 2012, the Co-operative launched its Carers Policy which aimed to enhance recruitment, retention and support for employees with caring responsibilities and is part of a range of flexible working and family leave arrangements.

It also signposts training and information for carers and includes a 24-hour employee assistance programme.

In addition to other policies, several companies now offer paid carers’ leave, including the construction firm Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd.

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