Carers forced to quit work to look after relatives

More than 600 people quit their jobs each day to look after older and disabled relatives
Helen Walker, chief executive, Carers UK

More than 600 people quit their jobs each day to look after older and disabled relatives, research by Carers UK has revealed.

It found that nearly half a million (468,000) have left their job in the past two years, which represents a 12% increase since the charity and YouGov polled the public in 2013.

Almost five million workers are now juggling a paid job with caring, with those aged 45-64 most likely to have a caring responsibility.

Helen Walker, Carers UK chief executive, said the research emphasised the need for UK employers to support staff with caring responsibilities to help them stay in work.

She said: ‘Better workplace support for people juggling paid work with caring for a loved one is becoming an increasingly important issue, with a growing need for employers to improve flexibility and, with an ageing population, support people to keep working for longer, contributing to better productivity.

‘With 15% of the population now working and caring, there is a real social and economic imperative for UK businesses to adopt carer friendly workplaces. Carers UK is urging the government to improve rights for people juggling work and care by introducing a new right of five to 10 days of paid care leave.’

Asked what support from their employer would be most important if combining their job with unpaid care for a loved one, 89% of 4,254 UK adults surveyed said a supportive employer; 88% said the option to work flexibly; and 80% said five to 10 days paid care leave.

Asked what supportive employment policies were available in their workplace, 38% said their employer had flexible working but only 12% said they had additional paid care leave. A third (33%) of people juggling work and care said that there were no policies to support carers.

The survey did find that 7% said unpaid caring had negatively impacted on their paid work, down from 10% in 2013, indicating that measures by employers to support carers in the workplace have been helping some.

Last month, Carers UK research found that one in four sandwich carers have shown symptoms of mental ill-health while looking after both sick, disabled or older relatives and children.

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Deven Pamben has more than 15 years’ experience as a journalist, working on newspapers, trade magazines and online publications. A Criminology graduate, Deven worked for Hertfordshire Constabulary before becoming a journalist. He began his journalism career at a local newspaper in Hertfordshire before moving into trade magazines in permanent roles or as a freelancer. Titles he has reported and edited on include Law Society Gazette, Harpers Wine and Spirit, and Health Club Management. Deven has also written travel features for the Sunday People, and spent two years working in Beijing for the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China.