How can working carers be supported effectively? A new IES evaluation

IES News

31 Jan 2018

An IES evaluation report published today identifies what employers and policymakers can do to support carers to balance work and care.

The report evaluates the success of the government-funded Carers in Employment (CiE) project, which was co-ordinated by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and operated from 2015 to 2017. The evaluation found that working carers who interacted with the project’s activities reported feeling better supported to remain at work, without measurable impact on harder labour market outcomes.

With around eight per cent of employed working-age people caring for an elderly or disabled relative at least once or twice a week, the demands of reconciling work and care for adult family members is a priority for the UK economy, policymakers, employers and carers themselves. With this demand set to rise as the workforce ages, this IES evaluation includes pertinent recommendations on the actions that policymakers and employers should take to support working carers.

The report highlights that the CiE project helped some employers to support carers more effectively, particularly smaller employers lacking HR policies and practices, by raising awareness of work and care issues and highlighting relevant responsibilities, such as  considering requests for flexible working.

With regards to larger, or regionally dispersed, employers, there were difficulties for individual workplaces to enact change in terms of offering support to carers, because these policies were set at Head Office level. The report therefore recommends that a national engagement strategy be developed to work with large employers and ensure that appropriate carer-friendly HR policies and practices are put in place at a local level.

For several of the nine local authorities in England who took part in the project, involvement encouraged them and their partners to ask about carers’ employment circumstances within their formal carer assessments. The report also recommends sharing learning resources across local authorities and their partners in order to further knowledge of what is most effective in supporting working carers.

The project also revealed the issue of identifying ‘hidden’ carers. Some carers do not disclose their care responsibilities to their employers and work needs to be done to identify those not receiving, but most likely to benefit from, support.  Among employers, the report recommends that workplaces promote cultures which embrace and meet the diverse needs of workers, including carers, in order to encourage carers to disclose their status and make the most of available support.

Read the full report