The event was opened by Stephen Hempenstall, Principal, Mercer Marsh Benefits, and chaired by Ian Peters, Chair of EfC who welcomed our newest members since the last EfC event in March: Barts Health NHS Trust, Nominet, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Trust, MoD Defence Equipment and Support, SCOR and our latest umbrella member, Durham County Council. EfC now has over 100 member organisations covering around 1.25 million employees across the UK.
Carers Week took place the week before the event, and Ian spoke of the buzz of activity amongst our members, with more workplace events than ever before this year. Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, shared some key research published for Carers Week. This highlighted the need to focus on health and wellbeing, revealing that 72% of carers in the UK said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring. Heléna also discussed the recently launched government Carers Action Plan designed to deliver activity for carers across Government over the next two years in advance of the Social Care Green Paper to be published in the Autumn. The Plan includes a chapter on employment which refers to the work of EfC and further information can be found on the Carers UK Website.
Ian gave an update on our employer benchmarking scheme pilot which is progressing well, with over 20 EfC member organisations participating. We are delighted to have such a good range of employers involved but it is still not too late to take part! The current pilot is running until the end of July but, following this, there will be an opportunity for member organisations to review the scheme elements and materials developed so far and help us to make final refinements before it goes live.
Three member organisations talked about their good practice initiatives to support carers in their workplace, all of which were inspiring and demonstrate how EfC members are leading the way. Firstly, we heard from Emma Parkes, Talent and D&I Specialist, Centrica, who outlined the company’s pioneering and longstanding carers leave policy, how it worked in detail and how it helped reduce absenteeism. Kelly Higson, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Nationwide, discussed initiatives her organisation have developed, with the help of EfC, to ensure carers feel more comfortable, healthy and connected at work. Finally, Simon Bampfylde, HR Policy Analyst, London Fire Brigade, talked about their LFB Carers Connect resource, developed with Carers UK and launched in 2012. Designed as an online one stop shop for carers to access tailored support and information (both from LFB and externally) this has been valuable for their organisation. LFB also subscribes to Carers UK’s Digital Resource for Carers which brings together a number of digital products and online resources and was developed from this early work. If you are interested in adding the Digital Resource for Carers to your membership, please get in touch!
Professor Sue Yeandle, Professor of Sociology and Director of CIRCLE, (Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equalities), University of Sheffield, provided a brief update on the Sustainable Care research programme she is leading, and the opportunity for EfC members to engage. Running until April 2021, this includes a project on support for carers in the workplace and how this can be measured. This will be an excellent opportunity to evidence and add impact to the work that EfC members are doing - please contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in hearing more.
Michael Shann, Head of Membership and Volunteering at Carers UK, also spoke to the group about becoming a Carers UK Workplace Champion Volunteer. You can read more about this here.
The presentations were followed by a lively Q&A session with discussion on issues such as: workplace practice on whether/how carers are asked to identify their caring situations when applying for leave; the pros and cons of using a carers register; the balance between crisis and planned leave; the evolution of support for carers in organisations which have been addressing this agenda for some time; the opportunities provided by the Sustainable Care programme for an international good practice exchange.
Our next Members Networking Event will be hosted by Credit Suisse, in London, on Tuesday 23rd October, further details to follow soon. If you would like to present at the event and share your organisation’s progress, experiences or policies, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org