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Call for 'care leave' for millions juggling work and caring

11 December 2013

Poll shows 9 in 10 of the public support new rights to time off work for caring for loved ones

Carers UK, backed by journalist Jackie Ashley, has launched a campaign for statutory paid leave for the nation’s carers.

The charity is calling for a legal right to a minimum of five days paid ‘care leave’ and for a debate on rights to longer periods of leave to care for disabled, older seriously or terminally ill loved ones.

Journalist Jackie Ashley is leading calls for new rights after her own experiences taking time off work at The Guardian to care for her husband Andrew Marr, who suffered a stroke.

A national YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by Carers UK, published today shows overwhelming public backing for the change – with 9 in 10 (89%)1 supporting the call for a new right to short periods of time off work to care.

Over 3 million people currently juggle work with caring for older parents, ill or disabled relatives, and research has shown that over 2 million have given up work to care. Carers UK argues the personal debt and hardship, and the estimated £5.3 billion a year cost to the economy2 of carers being forced to quit work means the time has come for a legal right to paid leave.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“As a society, we now accept the economic imperative of supporting parents of young children to work. But the millions of people caring for parents with dementia, ill partners or disabled sons and daughters are left using up all their holiday leave, can often become exhausted and many feel forced to give up work altogether. This is unsustainable, and families, businesses and the economy will pay an increasing price as growing numbers of stressed workers burn-out trying to juggle work and family responsibilities without support.”

Carers UK says the UK is falling behind globally, with ‘care leave’ policies already introduced in countries across the world to confront the growing challenge of family care for an ageing population. These countries include: Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Italy, USA ,Belgium, Poland, Ireland, Taiwan and the Netherlands.

Jackie Ashley said:

“Just as maternity leave once seemed unthinkable but is now widely accepted, so the right to care leave needs to become part of the pattern of employment. Our ageing society means that more and more people will become carers, but often only for a limited period of time. It is madness that so many carers lose their jobs for ever.”

The charity’s evidence is published today in a report, The Case for Care Leave as part of Carers UK’s Future Care series.

The campaign coincides with today’s G8 Dementia Summit, hosted by the UK Government in London. Estimates indicate there will be over a million people in the UK with dementia by 20213 and global estimates indicate that numbers worldwide with dementia will nearly double every 20 years – rising from 44 million to an estimated 76 million in 2030, and 135 million in 20504.

Currently workers’ only rights to support caring responsibilities are limited to unpaid ‘emergency leave’, usually limited to a day or two if a loved one has a crisis. Carers UK says this is failing families and businesses. The charity argues that the Government’s work with businesses to reshape ‘Modern Workplaces’ must include support for carers of older, disabled and seriously ill people.

Heléna Herklots continued:

“As the Government heralds rights for new parents, it is just as important to recognise that growing demand for care from an ageing population means that carers of older and disabled loved ones need rights at work which enable them to combine work and family life.”

UK
Press releases

Call for 'care leave' for millions juggling work and caring

11 December 2013

Poll shows 9 in 10 of the public support new rights to time off work for caring for loved ones

Carers UK, backed by journalist Jackie Ashley, has launched a campaign for statutory paid leave for the nation’s carers.

The charity is calling for a legal right to a minimum of five days paid ‘care leave’ and for a debate on rights to longer periods of leave to care for disabled, older seriously or terminally ill loved ones.

Journalist Jackie Ashley is leading calls for new rights after her own experiences taking time off work at The Guardian to care for her husband Andrew Marr, who suffered a stroke.

A national YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by Carers UK, published today shows overwhelming public backing for the change – with 9 in 10 (89%)1 supporting the call for a new right to short periods of time off work to care.

Over 3 million people currently juggle work with caring for older parents, ill or disabled relatives, and research has shown that over 2 million have given up work to care. Carers UK argues the personal debt and hardship, and the estimated £5.3 billion a year cost to the economy2 of carers being forced to quit work means the time has come for a legal right to paid leave.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“As a society, we now accept the economic imperative of supporting parents of young children to work. But the millions of people caring for parents with dementia, ill partners or disabled sons and daughters are left using up all their holiday leave, can often become exhausted and many feel forced to give up work altogether. This is unsustainable, and families, businesses and the economy will pay an increasing price as growing numbers of stressed workers burn-out trying to juggle work and family responsibilities without support.”

Carers UK says the UK is falling behind globally, with ‘care leave’ policies already introduced in countries across the world to confront the growing challenge of family care for an ageing population. These countries include: Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Italy, USA ,Belgium, Poland, Ireland, Taiwan and the Netherlands.

Jackie Ashley said:

“Just as maternity leave once seemed unthinkable but is now widely accepted, so the right to care leave needs to become part of the pattern of employment. Our ageing society means that more and more people will become carers, but often only for a limited period of time. It is madness that so many carers lose their jobs for ever.”

The charity’s evidence is published today in a report, The Case for Care Leave as part of Carers UK’s Future Care series.

The campaign coincides with today’s G8 Dementia Summit, hosted by the UK Government in London. Estimates indicate there will be over a million people in the UK with dementia by 20213 and global estimates indicate that numbers worldwide with dementia will nearly double every 20 years – rising from 44 million to an estimated 76 million in 2030, and 135 million in 20504.

Currently workers’ only rights to support caring responsibilities are limited to unpaid ‘emergency leave’, usually limited to a day or two if a loved one has a crisis. Carers UK says this is failing families and businesses. The charity argues that the Government’s work with businesses to reshape ‘Modern Workplaces’ must include support for carers of older, disabled and seriously ill people.

Heléna Herklots continued:

“As the Government heralds rights for new parents, it is just as important to recognise that growing demand for care from an ageing population means that carers of older and disabled loved ones need rights at work which enable them to combine work and family life.”

Notes

57% of the public supported a right to paid leave and 35% were in favour of unpaid leave, 4% were against a right to leave for carers and 7% were unsure.
Age UK (2012)
3 Alzheimer’s Society estimates
Policy Brief: The Global Impact of Dementia 2013-2050 (2013) Alzheimer’s Disease International

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