Business leaders offer help to employers

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Business leaders offer help to employers to mitigate recession

New Employers for Carers service goes live, aimed at helping businesses get the most out of their workforces

Government-backed business group Employers for Carers, chaired by BT and supported by Carers UK, goes live today (27th January). The group will deliver hands-on advice to employers on supporting the UK’s 3 million working carers, many of whom are struggling to combine work with caring for ill, frail or disabled friends or family members.


New services from Employers for Carers, whose members include BT, Unum, Listawood, the University of Leeds and PricewaterhouseCoopers, are being launched by Department of Work and Pensions Minister Jonathan Shaw on Tuesday 27th at BT Tower.

Caroline Waters, Director of People and Policy for BT and Chair of Employers for Carers said, “There is no doubt that business needs to respond to the stark demographic reality of rapidly increasing numbers of working carers. By joining Employers for Carers, businesses can be part of an employment agenda which not only supports working carers but improves the productivity and skill retention of our workforce. The business community must act now to address this challenge as the alternative is to risk a future that is unsustainable, both as a society and as a competitive economy."

BT points to real cost savings and productivity gains already achieved by the working practices that Employers for Carers support businesses to put in place. As a result of a push towards home-working, BT cites infrastructure savings of £6,000 for each home worker it has created, increases in productivity of over 20% from those staff members and staff turnover 4 times lower than the sector average.

Businesses across the UK are being urged to sign up to Employers for Carers to access expert guidance and legal advice on setting up carer-friendly employment policies, including flexible working practices, which can deliver real business advantage to large and small businesses under pressure.

Employers for Carers’ work is backed up by figures released by the CBI in the autumn. The CBI Employment Trends Survey 2008 indicated that flexible working can boost productivity and cut absence rates, whilst 63% of employers surveyed saw a positive impact on recruitment and retention and 69% reported improvements to employee relations.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK said, “The peak age for caring is 45-64, just when employees are likely to be at their greatest level of skill and experience in the workplace. By working smarter, and offering real opportunities for people to transform the way they work, employers can reduce costs, as well as help to retain their most skilled staff, at a time they can least afford to lose them.”

Jonathan Shaw MP, Minister for Disabled People, said: “It makes clear business sense to ensure workplaces are more flexible for the growing number of carers in the labour market."

“We fully back partnerships such as the Employers for Carers group, which recognise carers as part of the country’s working population. During tough times it is vital that carers do not get left behind, which unfortunately has been the case in previous years.”

A new website will be going live at www.employersforcarers.org detailing the support available to Employers for Carers members, including:

  • Practical guides on supporting carers in their workforce.
  • Guidance from other employers on what works for them.
  • Expert consultancy and training services.
  • The latest information on legal changes and employment policy.

ENDS

 

For further information or to request an interview with a spokesperson, contact:

Notes to editors:

1. Employers for Carers is a group of employers committed to working carers, chaired by BT and supported by the specialist knowledge of Carers UK. Their key purpose is to ensure that employers have the support to retain employees with caring responsibilities, with the backing of changes in national policy. They offer:

  • A developing evidence base on how caring responsibilities impact on employment.
  • Expertise in working with government and employers on developing and implementing policy and good practice in the workplace.
  • Five years experience of working with employers, such as BT, Centrica, the Metropolitan Police and the NHS, to support carers wishing to remain in or return to work.

For more details about Employers for Carers, how to join and what services are available please visit www.employersforcarers.org, email employers@carersuk.org or telephone 020 7378 4975.

2. Carers UK - Carers give so much to society, yet as a consequence of caring they experience ill health, poverty and discrimination. Carers UK is an organisation of carers fighting to end this injustice by:

  • campaigning for the changes that make a real difference for carers
  • providing information and advice to carers about their rights and how to get support
  • mobilising carers and supporters to influence decision-makers
  • gathering hard evidence about what needs to change
  • transforming the understanding of caring so that carers are valued and not discriminated against.

For more details about Carers UK visit www.carersuk.org

3. CBI Employment Trends Survey 2008, figures on the impact of the right to request flexible working:

  • 69% report a positive impact on employee relations
  • 63% report a positive impact on recruitment and retention
  • 35% report a positive impact on absence rates (62% neutral)
  • 28% report a positive impact on productivity (58% neutral).

4. Who Cares Wins: The Social and Business Benefits of Supporting Working Carers (2006) by Carers UK and Centre for Social Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University, can be downloaded in full at: www.carersuk.org/Policyandpractice/Research/Employmentandcaring