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is carers leave paid, do I have to pay my employees who are carers

Carers Leave: paid or unpaid?

Posted by HR & Employment Team

New legislation offers unpaid carer’s leave, but leading employers are exploring additional support with positive results.

Increased support for carers:

The UK recently introduced a law granting employees the right to take up to five days of unpaid leave for caregiving needs which came into effect in April this year. While a significant step, Carers UK, an advocacy group, is calling for further measures including two weeks of paid leave annually and the option for longer unpaid leave (up to six months), this came into effect in April this year.

Why additional support matters:

  • Prevalence of Carers: Approximately 1 in 9 employees juggle work with caregiving responsibilities. This translates to a significant portion of the workforce.
  • Retention Benefits: Many caregivers leave their jobs due to work-life conflicts. Offering flexible solutions can help retain valuable employees.
  • The New Law: The Carers Leave Act establishes a framework for unpaid leave and defines a legal carer classification.

Beyond the Minimum:

Several employers are exceeding the minimum legal requirements and reaping benefits:

  • BT: Offers 10 days of paid carer’s leave, reporting positive impacts on productivity, retention, and employee attraction.
  • TSB Bank: Provides 70 hours of paid leave annually. Carer retention is higher than the general workforce, and average leave usage is only seven hours.
  • Department for Work and Pensions: Emphasises flexible work arrangements for carers, resulting in rising employee engagement.

Employer Actionable Steps:

  • Flexible Work Policies: Implement and utilise flexible work options with empathy and creativity to accommodate diverse needs.
  • Manager Training: Equip managers with communication skills, knowledge of company policies, and their application to support carers.
  • Carer Passport Scheme: Streamline communication by establishing a system for employees to document caregiving needs, avoiding repetitive explanations.
  • Internal Communication: Promote inclusive support options through internal communication channels, highlighting flexibility and resources for carers.
  • Crisis Support: During unforeseen caregiving emergencies, offer immediate time off without inquiries, followed by a structured conversation to explore available leave options.
  • Adjustment Leave: Consider longer periods of leave with a guaranteed position upon return and an openness to discussing part-time or flexible hours.

Investing in Support:

Employers who prioritise supporting carers find it fosters loyalty and dedication. By going beyond the minimum legal requirements (if you’re in a position to), companies can benefit from increased employee well-being, retention, and overall performance. As one employer struggling with caregiving responsibilities himself stated, “Carers work hard, for you and when they are at home, and they deserve to know that you, their employer, has got their back.”

For employers requiring further guidance or assistance with HR, Health & Safety, Employment Law or eLearning, Supportis are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation at [email protected] or on 0161 603 2156.

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