This year has seen a dramatic boost in the numbers of carers in Scotland, increasing by almost 400,000 to an estimated 1.1 million since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. This issue is particularly relevant to Scottish employers as 58% of these new carers juggle paid employment with their caring responsibilities.
As these times of uncertainty continue and the world of work takes on a new and changing shape, it is vital that employers recognise the particular challenges that carers face. We need carers to feel valued and supported by employers as otherwise, many may feel forced to leave.
Research undertaken earlier this year by the CIPD and Sheffield University in fact highlighted the plight of working carers, showing that a quarter of workers with caring responsibilities for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill have considered giving up their job entirely, with many struggling to balance their caring role without employer support. As well as the devastating effect this can have on individuals and their families, this can also clearly impact heavily on employers.
How can Carer Positive help?
Carer Positive is a nationally recognised employer award scheme, launched by the Scottish Government and delivered by Carers Scotland. Free to participate in, it is a flexible initiative, designed to work for organisations of all sizes and sectors. We help employers create a supportive working environment for carers, providing advice and resources as well as employer testimonial videos, awareness and networking events.
Employers can apply for our multi-level Carer Positive Award and we can continue to help strengthen and develop a culture of support within their organisation, which contributes to an overall positive effect on the wellbeing and resilience of all staff.
A growing number of organisations in Scotland are proud to call themselves Carer Positive Employers.
Almost 200 employers are currently recognised as Carer Positive Employers, including: local authorities; health boards; public bodies; utility companies; further and higher education institutions; voluntary sector organisations and private companies.
The Phoenix Group is one of our Exemplary Carer Positive Employers, and at the forefront of organisations who recognise the importance of this agenda. The award demonstrates the support the Group provides for its employees who are working carers, through a combination of practical support and policy, awareness raising and training and an active Carers Network.
Accepting the award earlier this year, Stephen Jefford, Group HR Director and Executive Sponsor of the Carers Network at Phoenix Group said: “We recognise that many colleagues will have a caring commitment at some point in their working lives. We want to ensure we support them in balancing their caring responsibilities alongside their career. We’re delighted to be recognised as a Carer Positive employer in Scotland and believe that an appropriately thoughtful workplace helps colleagues remain committed and engaged through times of enduring challenge.”
Workplaces are changing and we urge employers to seize the opportunity and look at how their policies and practice supports staff with caring responsibilities. Home working and greater flexibility is being embraced across the country, with online communication platforms providing tools to more easily provide the right kind of support, benefiting organisations now and far beyond the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The Carer Positive Award scheme is recommended within the Scottish Business Pledge and linked in the Scottish Government’s recent ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance for Homeworking’.
We encourage all interested organisations to visit our website – www.carerpositive.org – for more information and get in touch to find out how you can become a Carer Positive Employer.