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By Emma Stewart, CEO & Co-Founder, Timewise
You may be surprised to learn that there are currently 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers for friends, family or others. For these people, balancing caring responsibilities with working can be an enormous challenge.
As a result, a substantial number of carers report that they have had to leave paid employment in order to carry out their caring responsibilities, while others say they have had no choice but to settle for a low-paid role which they are over-qualified for, just to get a part-time arrangement. That’s not only disastrous for them and their families; it also has a negative impact on societal issues such as in-work poverty, welfare dependency and social mobility.
At Timewise, we know that increasing access to flexible working is the best way to help carers stay in their jobs or, if they’ve had to take a break, get back into the workplace. So we are delighted to be partnering with The Department of Health and Social Care to develop our new Carers Hub.
The hub is a one-stop shop for carers, packed with advice, inspiration and practical support. It includes advice and guidance to help them find good quality flexible roles, as well as case studies of how other carers have continued or restarted their careers. It’s also linked to our jobs board, the go-to source for the kind of part-time and flexible roles that carers so clearly need.
As the Minister of State for Care, Caroline Dinenage says: “The unpaid hidden army of carers dedicate their lives to those who need support and without them the health and social care system would not be sustainable.
“Yet so many of them face an avoidable uphill struggle in balancing their caring responsibilities with a job. That’s why we’re developing cross-Government plans to support carers, and why this partnership will harness Timewise’s unique expertise to ensure more carers find good quality, flexible jobs.”
As an employer, what does all this have to do with you? Well, this issue isn’t going anywhere; the number of UK carers is set to rise to 9 million in the years ahead. So responsible organisations need to get on board with flexible working, and start working to widen carers’ access to the jobs market. And those that are doing so already could encourage others by being prepared to shout about it.
We’ve put together some best practice guidance on flexible working and flexible hiring, to help employers find and keep talented people who want or need to work in this way. We’ll also be running a carers-focused roundtable for employers in the next year; keep an eye on our Twitter feed for more details.
And if you’re already supporting carers in your workplace, we’d love to hear about it. It’s so inspiring for carers to hear from people who have found a way to balance work with their caring responsibilities, and it also allows you to showcase your flexible credentials to candidates. Feel free to drop us an email and share your success stories with us.
This is just the beginning for the Carers’ Hub. We have a range of plans in place to help us drive change and help improve prospects for carers; we’ll keep you posted.