Headlines: April 6th, 2006

Research commissioned by Carers UK and carried out by Sheffield University shows that supporting the three million carers who combine working with caring in the UK is a cost effective policy for employers to follow. Carers UK is the lead organisation in Action for Carers and Employment which is a development partnership funded by the European Social Fund under its Equal Community Initiative Programme. The Programme brings together statutory, voluntary and private sector agencies to raise awareness of the barriers facing carers who wish to work, and tests and promotes ways of supporting them.The research shows that the adoption of flexible working practices can save organisation’s time and money. Key points from the research reveal that the adoption of flexible working practices attracts and retains skilled staff, reduces employee stress and sick leave and significantly increases productivity and improves service delivery. Examples in the report show substantial productivity increases and up to a quarter reduction in sick and stress leave. The report also shows that the costs of recruiting and training staff to replace those who wished to combine work with caring was more expensive than allowing flexible working and providing paid emergency leave.

The report comes ahead of new legislation in the Work and Families Bill, currently passing through Parliament, which will give carers the right to request flexible working.