This page has information for employers about assisting employees who are carers to balance working and caring responsibilities.
Why are carers important for my business?
The proportion of employees with caring responsibilities is growing. There will be increasing pressure on employers to respond to this trend and support staff.
You may already employ carers and not know it. There's good evidence that the right support in the workplace will benefit both employee and business through:
- reduced staff turnover
- lower absenteeism and sickness
- higher rates of return on investment on skilled employees
- the availability of a larger, more diverse labour pool
- enhanced staff morale and loyalty
- reduced levels of employee stress
- enhanced corporate image.
Why employ carers?
As an employer you consider a person's previous work experience and skills in deciding whether or not to employ them. Experience as a carer should be viewed as part of this.
A carer may have spent years working long hours, providing physical and emotional support, negotiating services, coordinating a care team, working to tight budgets and dealing with time pressures, competing priorities and stress. Consider the skills this person may have learned:
- negotiation and networking skills
- empathy and an ability to work with people
- coordinating teams under difficult circumstances
- working to tight budgets
- managing time and competing priorities
- working independently
- managing stress
- manual handling, feeding, cooking, basic maintenance.
How can I support carers?
Some carers' needs may be very basic, such as leaving work on time or accessing a phone for personal use. Some may require flexible work arrangements on an ongoing, temporary or sporadic basis. It is important to consult a carer about which arrangements would be useful. These may include:
- a supportive culture that recognises and accommodates employees who have caring responsibilities
- information for employees and managers about carer-friendly policies and entitlements under relevant legislation, awards or agreements
- information for employees and managers about external assistance, such as carer support organisations
- flexible work arrangements such as flexitime, part time work, job-sharing, flexible rostering or compressed hours
- leave provisions (paid family, parental, personal or carers' leave, bereavement leave, unpaid leave, flexible use of recreation leave or a leave donation scheme allowing staff to donate unused leave to carers)
- working from home temporarily, sporadically or long term
- a free or subsidised counselling service
- facilities enabling carers to bring in the person they care for in emergencies
- access to computers or phones for personal use.