A new report for Carers Week shows how many employees might be forced to leave their jobs as a result of caring responsibilities and inflexible employers and calls for a right to carers leave to be brought forward.
Government should bring forward legislation to guarantee carers five days unpaid leave and employers who can should offer to pay for that leave, according to a new study for Carers Week [8-14 June].
The study by insurance provider Phoenix Group should that on the last year, 4.4 million employed carers took annual leave specifically to care for someone else, taking on average six days out of their annual leave allowance.
It also found that three in 10 UK workers believe they might be forced to give up their existing job due to an unsupportive and inflexible employer if they needed to help care for a dependent or relative, which is heightened among working carers with almost two thirds (63%) agreeing.
Only one in five workers say their employer currently supports carers’ needs for additional annual leave 52% say they would really struggle to afford to give up work and care for a loved one. Just over a quarter (27%) say they would need to go part-time or reduce their hours.
Seventy six per cent of workers say that businesses should support those who have carer responsibilities. Seven in ten people (71%) approve of statutory carer’s leave, which would be unpaid in line with statutory
parental leave, while over two in five of us (43%) support statutory paid carer’s leave.
Over half of UK workers (57%) believe that their company is no more or less likely to support employees who need to manage caring responsibilities in the future since the coronavirus pandemic shone a light on caring responsibilities.
The Government is consulting on carers leave. Carers UK estimates that paid carers leave of at least five days a year could save the UK economy around £3.5bn a year.
Andy Briggs, Chief Executive Phoenix Group and Government Business Champion for Older
Workers, says: “Rights for employed carers have long needed to be formalised. COVID has served to heighten awareness of the support required as many are struggling to balance work commitments with caring responsibilities. We know from our research that time is sacred to carers, with 59% saying they
consider more flexible working hours a fair employee benefit. The proposed statutory changes will
provide a healthier work-life balance for unpaid carers and employers will be able to retain valuable
members of their workforce.
“We are calling on all employers that are able, to offer a minimum of five days paid carers leave, to
relieve some of the pressures employed carers face, enable them to continue in current employment
and ensure annual leave remains sacrosanct.”