Why we should do more to support working carers

Natalie Hyett

Programme Director



The debate around social care has been in the spotlight for over two decades and is a major societal issue. The care system is complex and underfunded, which means that many families carry the responsibility of caring for our ageing population. With over 5 million working carers in the UK, later life care is now a societal and employer issue that can no longer be ignored.

There are fundamental barriers throughout the entire care eco system, making it hard for families to navigate through their choices. When a care need arises, it tends to be at the point of crisis and families are propelled into a confusing and fragmented system, with no central place to go for help and support.

1 in every 7 employees are juggling some form of caring responsibilities with work. As a result, the cost impact to UK businesses is £8.1billion a year in unplanned absences, long term sick pay, and recruitment costs. It is not unusual for care in the workplace to fly under the radar, many employees often don’t realise they have taken on a caring role or be willing to talk about it with their employer.

Care is translating into the workplace because it is nearly always the adult children who pick up the responsibility of caring for mum or dad, in fact, 15% of working adults are juggling caring responsibilities right now. During the pandemic unpaid carers spent an extra 92 million hours looking after relatives. The pressure of caring responsibilities can be extremely difficult and largely impacts working adults aged 45 – 65 years old, many of whom will also be juggling full-time work and raising a family. According to Carers Trust, just over half of carers have given up or reduced paid work because of caring responsibilities, which can negatively impact their own financial wellbeing.


Often working carers don’t tell their employer that they are a carer and mask the real reason for time out of the office. Many employers don’t capture the reasons for absence which makes the issue of care very difficult for organisations to quantify in terms of the cost to their business and the impact on employees’ wellbeing. There has also been a lack of innovation in the UK in this area compared to Europe and further afield where support for carers in the workplace has become a standard feature of wellbeing solutions for employees.

There are several issues transpiring for the 5 million employees who are juggling work and caring:

  • 70% of carers are experiencing a negative impact on their own mental health
  • 6/10 carers are suffering with physical ill health due to caring
  • Financial losses by giving up work or reducing working hours
  • 60% of carers have debt because of their caring role
  • Inequalities across underrepresented groups such as women and BAME carers

Watch our webinar to find out how you can support working carers

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for the next 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.