Caring for Carers Week

Caring for Carers Week
11 June 2024
The event runs from Monday 10th June until Sunday 16th June 2024 to recognise and celebrate the UK's six million plus unpaid family and friend carers.


During Carers Week it's crucial to recognise the significant contribution of carers who provide care to family members or friends with disabilities, illnesses, or other needs while maintaining employment. 

Research by Carers UK estimates that around 6.5 million people in the UK are carers, with about 2.8 million balancing caregiving duties with paid work. While the number of male carers is growing, women still make up the majority of working carers, bearing a disproportionate caregiving load.

As a working carer, I understand the challenges of balancing professional responsibilities and caregiving duties. The guilt of needing to call in or leave work unexpectedly is acute, but we strive to excel in our careers, contribute to our teams, and continue learning and growing.

Working carers face various health and well-being challenges due to the demands of caregiving. These challenges include mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as physical health issues resulting from the physical demands of caregiving and the associated stress. Balancing work and caregiving can significantly impact employment, leading to job-related stress, reduced work productivity, and financial strain for working carers.

Colleagues and managers play a crucial role in supporting working carers. Showing kindness, avoiding assumptions or judgments, and creating a supportive and understanding work environment are essential. Building strong relationships and open communication channels between carers and management ensures that carers feel valued and supported.

Here is an example of some of the scenarios we face:

“I once requested flexible working about 12 years ago when starting in the laboratory environment, and the comment I was met with will stay with me forever: 'Why did you take the job if you knew you had a kid like that?' So, to put it simply, just be kind."

Employers need to be more realistic about flexible working arrangements for carers. New policy changes require employers to consult with employees before rejecting flexible working requests and reduce the response time to two months. Employees can make two requests within a 12-month without explaining the impact on the employer.

Workplaces can provide various support measures for working carers, including carers' leave, flexible working options, information on career breaks, access to well-being sessions, support networks, and occupational health and employee assistance programs. Since April 2024, working carers in the UK are entitled to one week of unpaid carer's leave. However, providing paid leave, even for a few days annually, can significantly benefit carers by easing financial burdens and improving their well-being.

If you're a working carer, remember that you're not alone. Resources and support are available to help you navigate the challenges of balancing work and caregiving responsibilities. As we observe Carers Week, let's recognise and support the invaluable contribution of working carers and work together to create inclusive and supportive workplaces for all.

Zoe Andrews is a parent carer of two autistic children, Biomedical scientist, and South-West EDI Rep IBMS



Carers Week

Flexible Working

Carer-Friendly Workplace


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