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Research: 70,000 people in Northern Ireland quit work to care unpaid for a loved one

04 February 2019

70,000 people in Northern Ireland quit work to care unpaid for a loved one

  • 1 in 7 of the Northern Ireland workforce caring for a loved one
  • More than 70,000 people in Northern Ireland have quit their job to care
  • Leading carer’s charity Carers NI calls for better employment rights including five to 10 days paid care leave

New research by Carers NI reveals that more than 70,000 people in Northern Ireland have quit their job to care for a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

The research shows the average number of carers in the workplace is 15% across the UK, meaning almost 125,000 people in Northern Ireland are juggling their paid job with caring. That is one in seven of all workers in Northern Ireland.

The research emphasises the need for Northern Ireland employers to support the increasing number of staff with caring responsibilities to stay in the workforce.

Previous research shows those aged 45-64 are most likely to have a caring responsibility, providing a strong driver for employers to support and retain some of their most skilled and experienced employees.

It comes as Employers for Carers, a group of more than 115 employers committed to supporting carers in the workplace and supported by Carers NI, marks its 10th anniversary as a formal forum and launches Carer Confident, the first UK-wide employer benchmarking scheme of its kind.

The pioneering scheme recognises and grades UK employers who have built carer friendly and inclusive workplaces.

 

Clare-Anne Magee, Head of Carers Northern Ireland, said:

“Better workplace support for people juggling paid work with caring for a loved one is becoming increasingly important, with a growing need for employers to improve flexibility and, with an ageing population, support people to keep working for longer, contributing to better productivity. 

“With 15% of the Northern Ireland population working and caring, there is a real social and economic imperative for businesses to adopt carer friendly workplaces. Carers NI wants the Government to improve rights for people juggling work and care by introducing a new right of five to 10 days of paid care leave.

“Adequate care and support services are also a key condition for many people’s employment so it’s more important than ever that the Government’s forthcoming social care proposals deliver the high quality and affordable care services we need now and in the future.”

Asked what support from their employer would be most important if combining their job with unpaid care for a loved one, 89 per cent of UK adults said a supportive line manager/employer, 88 per cent said the option to work flexibly, and 80 per cent said five to 10 days paid care leave.

Asked what supportive employment policies are currently available for carers in their workplace, 38 per cent of UK employees said their employer had flexible working but only 12 per cent said they had additional paid care leave. A third (33 per cent) of people currently juggling work and care said that there were no policies listed to support carers. This suggests that for many carers, the lack of support in the workplace is a difficult reality.

7 per cent of people said unpaid caring had negatively impacted on their paid work, down from 10 per cent in 2013, indicating that measures by employers to support carers in the workplace have been working well for some.

            Michael, 57, who gave up work to care for his elderly parents said:

“I gave up running a guesthouse in Devon to come to Northern Ireland to care for my parents. I worked as a factory operator because the 12 hour shift pattern, 4 days on 4 off, suited my caring role but as my parents’ health failed I came to a point where I literally crashed out and had to give up work.

 “I do not see myself as having left work as I now work harder and longer than ever before. I have left paid employment and all the benefits’ and life that go with it.

“There was no real decision-making process involved in this. Had I realised that I actually was a carer while working I may have been in contact with other carers and carer support organisations and therefore been able to make a more informed decision, as opposed to reaching a crisis point and crashing out unable to continue.”

 

Media contact

 For media enquiries, contact Carers NI on 028 9043 9843 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alternatively, you can contact the Carers UK press office on 020 7378 4937, 07534 630 667 (out of hours) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  

About Carers NI

Carers NI is here to make life better for carers. Working as part of Carers UK:

  • We give expert advice, information and support
  • We connect carers so no-one has to care alone
  • We campaign together for lasting change
  • We innovate to find new ways to reach and support carers

For practical advice and information about caring, contact the Carers NI Advice line on 0289 043 9843 (10am-4pm, Monday-Thursday) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Carers NI provides advice, information, support and training to employers around the issue of caring and work. For further information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Carers UK Forum is our online community of carers and is available to Carers UK members 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: www.carersuk.org/forum.

Website:          www.carersni

Facebook:       www.facebook.com/carersni

Twitter:                        @CarersNI

About the research

2018/19 data: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4,254 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th December 2018 - 4th January 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

2013 data: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2073 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 4th February 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

All calculations by Carers UK using ONS population statistics for 2018.

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