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Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Ian Peters, Chair of Employers for Carers and Managing Director of British Gas – More understanding of caring needed in the workplace


Ian Peters is Chair of Employers for Carers and Managing Director of British Gas. He has over 30 years’ experience in a range of energy and financial services positions, working across strategy, marketing, finance and business operations. Ian has been a Trustee and Treasurer of Carers UK since 2003, and is Chair of Employers for Carers.

Ian Peters
Ian Peters

Research published by Carers UK’s business forum Employers for Carers on 24th March highlights the isolation felt by thousands of employees combining work with looking after older, sick or disabled loved ones. More understanding of caring is needed within the workplace, with working carers who received support from line managers and colleagues being less likely to report feeling isolated in the workplace, demonstrating the crucial role that managers and team members can play in recognising and supporting their colleagues with caring responsibilities. 

Creating an open and understanding workplace

Supporting carers to remain in employment means creating an open and understanding workplace where employees can find out about the flexibility that may be available from their employer, get peer support from colleagues in a similar position and find information about practical and emotional support available outside of work.

Providing better support for carers

For business, the message is simple: unless workplaces provide better support for carers they will continue to see growing numbers of their most experienced staff leaving employment.

As we know from our own experience at Employers for Carers this is not just about being a good employer; it is good for business – improving productivity, attracting and retaining talent in the workplace and reducing staff isolation, turnover and recruitment costs.

Ensuring access to policy, advice and support

This research shows that much more must be done to improve carers’ access to support both at home and at work. Employers for Carers members have easy access to best practice in policy, advice and support.

It’s also crucial that families get the support they need from care services – this was the top priority for support outside the workplace for carers in this survey.

Key research findings:

Half of the UK’s 6.5 million carers juggle work and care with one in nine people in the workforce combining paid work with unpaid care for an older, ill or disabled relative or friend.

  • Seven in ten working carers (71%) have felt lonely or isolated in the workplace as a result of their caring responsibilities.
  • Over four out of ten (43%) working carers felt that colleagues and managers did not understand the impact of caring and 38% had not felt comfortable talking about their caring responsibilities at work.
  • The top priority for workplace support was improved and consistent manager awareness of caring issues (37%) and more flexible/special leave arrangements (again 37%).
  • One in six working carers (16%) said that they felt isolated because they felt like they were the only person in this situation.

Asked the key reason for feeling alone at work over a quarter of carers (26%) pointed to a lack of understanding from their line manager about the impact of juggling care with work whilst a fifth (22%) said that using up their annual leave to provide care meant they did not have time for a social life. Over half (56%) of the carers who had given up work to care highlighted the stress of juggling work and care, and a third (34%) the lack of suitable care services.

Research published earlier this year by Carers UK revealed that over half of all carers (57%) have lost touch with family and friends as a result of their caring role and half admitted to experiencing problems in their romantic relationships due to caring for their partner or another family member or friend.

Facts about carers:

  • Across the UK there are 6.5 million people caring for a loved one who is older, seriously ill or disabled. This number is set to rise to 9 million by 2037.
  • 4.3 million carers are of working age and 3 million of those juggle work and care.
  • Full-time carers are twice as likely to be in bad health as non-carers. An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work at some point to care for older or disabled loved ones, and 3 million have cut working hours.
  • Over 1.4 million people care for over 50 hours a week.
  • Carers save the economy an estimated £119 billion per year with the unpaid care they provide, an average of £18,473 per carer.

Source: Facts about carers (2014) Carers UK.

Read the report here.

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