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How to support an employee who is caring for a dependant

As many as one in eight of us is providing unpaid care for a sick or elderly relative. This is often in addition to paid employment, so it is possible that you may have some carers amongst your workforce.

Unsupported employees with caring duties can experience problems with focus, productivity and attendance, which in turn can create problems for you and the day-to-day running of your business

You’ll want to know how best to manage and support these employees in order to help them work well and reach their potential.

Additionally, they may be legally entitled to take carer’s leave and so it’s important to remain aware of statutory entitlements and the process involved for those making a request. Denying a valid request for carer’s leave can be problematic and even result in a Fair Work claim.

A sensitive subject

It might not be obvious which of your employees are balancing their work with caring responsibilities, as some people like to separate their personal and professional lives. Therefore, if the topic does arise, manage it with compassion and confidentiality.

Ways in which you can help an employee who is caring for a dependant

Here are our suggestions for supporting an employee who is caring for a dependant and helping them be more productive.

Support and empathy

Regular catch-ups with employees allow them the opportunity to discuss anything that might be troubling them or affecting their performance. If it is apparent that caring responsibilities are affecting their well-being you can signpost support services and let them know that they are not alone.

If you manage a leadership team, consider providing them with training so that they feel equipped and able to manage difficult or sensitive situations with their people effectively.

Flexible working

Offering flexible work arrangements to employees is a great way to show your support of a good work-life balance. Employees who are able to work well around other commitments are less likely to need time off.

Carer’s leave

Some care demands can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. And so carer’s leave is in place to allow an employee to take time off to care for an immediate family member or household member who is sick or injured. Or to help during a family emergency. There are specific criteria as to who can be classed as immediate family, ask us if you are unsure.

You can and should ask for evidence before approving paid carer’s leave.

The benefits to your business of supporting an employee who cares for a dependant

Taking care of employees is taking care of your business. Understanding the unique needs of your workforce can result in strong staff retention and a boost in productivity. If you would like further advice and support on how to manage the carers amongst your team and the importance of doing so, contact your local HR Dept today.