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Employee absence levels increase due to caring responsibilities

07 October 2014

More than one in three employers report that absence levels have increased because their staff are struggling to cope with their caring responsibilities outside of work, according to a survey by the CIPD – the professional body for HR and people development.

But only one in six organisations have policies in place to help employees achieve a better balance between their home and working lives, found the annual CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management Survey.

An estimated 2.4 million carers find themselves part of the 'sandwich generation' - juggling caring responsibilities for older loved ones, while looking after younger children and often holding down a job outside of the home.

Savvy employers put policies in place to help staff fulfil their caring responsibilities outside of work while continuing to meet the demands of their job.

The survey found that flexible working arrangements are by far the most common type of support (68%), followed by compassionate leave (53%) and (paid or unpaid) carers' leave (48%). Two-fifths (42%) offer access to counselling services and three in ten offer career breaks and sabbaticals. One in six organisations offer access to financial services (17%) or options to purchase additional annual leave days (15%).

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy at Carers UK, said: "3 million people are juggling work with caring for an older or disabled loved one. Without the right policies in the workplace and the support of good quality, flexible and affordable care services, these employees often feel unable to juggle it all, with millions feeling they have no alternative but to give up work to care. We estimate this costs business £3.5 billion a year, with extra costs to the economy and to the families themselves in lost earnings and pensions."

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