26th June 2018Category: Working Carers
At any one time, 1 in 9 people who work will be caring for someone. But working carers are still reluctant to tell their employer that they are carers because there is the perception of losing their job or being over-looked for promotion. This is not true; employers are starting to recognise the strong business case for retaining experienced workers and the positive impacts of flexible working. As well as the fact that carers have some statutory rights and more and more people are understanding the importance of carers in our society.
If you only take one thing away from this article, it is; the decision is up to you. Full-time, part-time, it doesn’t matter on your hours. It may be that you don’t feel comfortable today but after reading this, you may have the conversation in the near future.
Some people decide not to tell their employer or manager that they are a carer. This might be because they want work to be a separate side to their life, and do something for them.
However as we all know, life and caring can be unpredictable. Your situation may change overnight such as a parent suddenly becomes ill or the health of your child deteriorates. For this reason, there are benefits to telling your employer.
First things first, it all depends on the size of the business you work for. It can be a small shop, a corporate company or a big business. Check your staff handbook, policies and procedures and see if they have anything like a carers policy or flexible working. You may not realise that they already have things in place for carers. If they don’t, do not worry, I have spoken to small business owners and they often take situations on an individual basis and can be very understanding of employee’s needs. Ask colleagues, if they have had an experience with a personal issue and how supportive their manager was. If you do not want to disclose your caring responsibilities to your line manager for example, you may wish to approach your departmental or corporate HR team, or your Trade Union representative for advice.
I have seen the situation from both sides; the working carer and the employer. The key to all of this is communication. Clear, regular and review are words often said about the conversations between employer and employee. If both know what the situation is, they can work towards the same goals.
If you tell your employer about your caring responsibilities, they can support you appropriately. If, for example, they know about you caring for your mum and she has to have a hospital appointment, then you can make leave arrangements for that time. Or you need to have your mobile on, in case there is an emergency. Other reasons could be; you get upset at work and they can support you, flexible working request to change your shifts to better suit your caring responsibilities or ask to home from work for a set number of hours (depending on the job you do). If they know, there are options and carers have the right to apply for flexible working. Think about your caring role and what support would benefit you.
Isolation in the workplace is a topic I will be talking about in the future. It is a major issue because you feel like you are alone in your situation yet surrounded by people. But how do you know that other staff are not feeling the same or in a similar position to you?
Your colleagues can be supportive and you never know, they may have caring responsibilities too. Another interesting element is, by talking to colleagues you trust, it may open their eyes to what working and caring may mean. They may even realise that they are a carer as a result of that conversation. It could be that you ask a colleague to go with you for support when you talk to your employer or manager about your role as a carer.
Remember if you want to talk about any of the issues discussed in topic of the work please email or phone the office.