Carers Leeds: Flexibility for Working Carers

We Can Flex

Flexible Working success at Carers Leeds

Carers Leeds
Background

Background

Established in 1996, Carers Leeds is a charity that provides information, advice and support to unpaid adult and parent carers across the city. Carers Leeds employ 50 people, most of whom are care support workers, and offers services including an advice line, carer support groups, one to one support and support in hospitals. All services are provided to communities throughout Leeds and the charity works in partnership with others to deliver services and influence them to act to benefit unpaid carers.

Situation

Situation

Around 1 in 5 care sector employees in the UK have caring responsibilities for family and friends. Carers Leeds conducted their own workforce survey which showed that 1 in 2 of their employees were also unpaid carers. Most working carers were aged 35 – 55 with lots of experience, so the ability to retain these, and other staff members was seen as vital to the running of their services.
Myths Challenges

Myths/Challenges

Their manager confirmed job shares had previously been unsuccessful in the service and that there was some worry that if this request was granted, then all future flexible working requests would have to be approved. There were also concerns about how a job share could affect service delivery, impact on operations and potentially create negativity within the team where other flexible working requests had not been approved.

Solution

Solution

Carers Leeds had a flexible working policy in place but recognised that supporting their working carers was essential for retention, stress management and allowing people to bring their whole selves to work – enabling employees to provide the best service possible. To do this, Carers Leeds adopted a health and wellbeing passport system which enables working carers to plan with their manager how their caring responsibilities will have an impact on work, and how adjustments can be made. They also created a range of flexible working provisions including;

  • Hybrid working: Everyone can work from home for up to 50% of their contracted hours.
  • Specific paid carers leave: up to 9 days per year are available for caring.
  • Variable start and finish times: Flexitime enables employees to start and leave across times which suit their caring commitments.
  • Ability to take short term and sudden leave for caring emergencies: managers are trained and understand this need from time to time. Managers also discuss how flexible working is supporting the working carer in 1-1s.
  • Home contact: employees can use personal mobile phones in the office as needed for caring situations/emergencies.

Impact

Since implementing the changes, no working carers have left the organisation because of caring responsibilities. Sickness rates for working carers have decreased and are now lower than the average employee sickness rate. Carers Leeds have also become a ‘Carer Confident Employer’, which recognises the importance of retaining valued members of staff, reducing absence and unnecessary recruitment costs, and increasing staff resilience, engagement
and productivity.

Lessons learned

Many of us are, or will, become carers in the future. By implementing change now, the organisation has seen a noticeable increase in retention and reduction in sickness rates, as well as continued workforce engagement and appreciation.

“Due to my caring role, I would have had to leave my job a long time ago, however due to the support I receive at Carers Leeds I am able to balance both my career and my caring role without compromising on any and delivering my best to both sides whilst keeping myself stress free. I enjoy working at Carers Leeds, and due to the level of support available to working carers, I would never think of working with another organisation as I feel I have lots of opportunities to train and grow myself whilst being fully supported in my caring role”.

Member of staff at Carers Leeds

Andrew Walsh, Head of People at Carers Leeds, talks about flexibility for working carers in the video below. 

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