The decision to look after an elderly, ill or seriously disabled relative has been made by 2.6 million people according to new research by Carers UK1. The findings also reveal that nearly half a million (468,000) have quit their careers in the last two years alone – more than 600 people a day.
This is a 12% increase since Carers UK and YouGov polled the public in 2013.
More people are now caring than previously thought, with almost 5 million workers now juggling their paid job with caring – a dramatic rise compared with Census 2011 figures of 3 million.
Previous research shows those aged 45–64 – the so called ‘sandwich generation’ – 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.
In other research2, a further 2.6 million employees aged 45 and over3 also expect that they will have to leave their careers in order to care for a relative or partner in the future. One in five (19%) employees aged 45 and over in the UK expect to leave work in order to care for adult family members.
Women in particular (20%) are more likely to see their careers cut short by the need to care for a relative or a partner, but men are not far behind (17%). But just 6% of employers view caring pressures as a significant issue faced by their employees, highlighting a disconnect between employee and employer.
One in ten (10%) mid-life employees expect they will have to leave work in order to care for children or grandchildren. This highlights the pressures being faced by this generation as they look to support both younger and older generations.
Despite the care conundrum expected to cause one in five employees to leave their jobs, just 6% of UK employers consider care pressures a significant issue being faced by their mid-life workforce.
Asked what support from their employer would be most important if combining their job with unpaid care for a loved one, 89% of UK adults said a supportive line manager or employer, 88% said the option to work flexibly, and 80% said five to ten days’ paid care leave.
Asked what supportive employment policies are currently available for carers in their workplace, 38% of UK employees said their employer had flexible working, but only 12% said they had additional paid care leave. A third (33%) 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.
1 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,254 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28 December 2018 and 4 January 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). All calculations by Carers UK using ONS population statistics for 2018.
2 Research of 1,036 UK employers and 2,020 employees aged 45+, conducted on behalf of Aviva by Censuswide, January 2019. All figures are based on this research unless otherwise stated. 2,666,750 figure scaled up according to the latest ONS Labour Market Stats – calculated as 19% of UK employee population aged 45+
3 Employees aged 45+ are defined as ‘mid-life employees’ throughout the release