Supporting Carers in the Workforce

Sue McLintock
Manager, Carer Positive Awards
Carers Scotland
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With as many as 1 in 8 of the workforce estimated to be juggling work with caring responsibilities in their home lives, employers are increasingly recognising the need to support and retain employees who are carers. 

Carers are people who care for a family member, a friend or another person in need of assistance or support with daily living. They include those caring for the frail aged, people living with long-term medical conditions, people with a mental illness, people with a disability and those receiving palliative care.  By 2037, it is anticipated that 50% more people across the UK will be carers.   Caring spans all age groups and covers an extremely diverse range of conditions.  However, the population is ageing, so there is a particular growth in the number of people providing care for older relatives and friends.  90% of carers are over the age of 30, with the peak age for caring between the ages of 45 and 60.  Many of these people are and will be working and find themselves in potentially challenging and stressful situations if they don't feel supported in their working lives.  

HR policy and practice which reflects the particular needs of carers (as parents are recognised) are becoming more important in workforce management strategies.  Supporting employees who are carers is clearly beneficial to those individuals and their families, but there is also a strong business case for employers to do this.  In common with other family friendly, and health and wellbeing support, ‘carer friendly’ practices can help employers reduce levels of stress and sickness absence, increase staff retention, lower recruitment and training costs, and achieve better levels of engagemnent and staff morale.

Carer Positive’ is a Scottish Government initiative, operated by Carers Scotland, which aims to raise awareness of the growing number of carers in the workforce, and award recognition to those employers with good practice in supporting these employees.

Over  270,000 employees are now working in organisations proud to call themselves “Carer Positive” employers in Scotland.  Employers of all sizes and across all sectors are taking part and those already awarded include local authorities, health boards and other public bodies; utility companies; further and higher education institutions; and a range of voluntary sector organisations and private companies. 

The Carer Positive process is free and straightforward, and support is available to help you meet the required criteria. Organisations are encouraged to identify and develop their own actions as appropriate to their size and structure. This can include work-life balance policies, flexible working conditions, or small and simple practical measures that can make a real difference to how carers feel supported at work.

More and more employers are applying to be recognised as Carer Positive. Why not join them, so that more carers, and you as employers can enjoy the benefits of a Carer Positive workplace.

Visit our website to find out more, look at our best practice resources and employer videos as well as the current list of Carer Positive employers.  Email [email protected] for further advice and information.

About Sue McLintock

About Sue McLintock

Working with the Scottish Government, employers and partner agencies in firstly developing and now operating the delivery of the Carer Positive awards in Scotland. This role has included an extensive consultation process with employers and partners to develop the model and progress its implementation. Responsibilities include:

• Promoting and operating Carer Positive across Scotland
• Engaging with a wide range of public, private and voluntary sector employers and
stakeholders to raise awareness of the business case for supporting carers in the workplace
• Providing support to and presenting Carer Positive awards to employers across Scotland
• Managing and developing the Carer Positive website and resources


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