The Co-operative have announced an enhanced family-friendly people policy offering further support to its staff who are also unpaid adult carers. The UK has an estimated seven million carers and, The Co-operative’s own internal research has revealed that more than one in ten of its 100,000 employees currently look after family, partners or friends in need of help because of illness, frailty or disability. The move comes as the UK’s largest member-owned organisation gets set to launch its 2013 Corporate Charity of the Year partnership with Carers Trust – raising the money needed to reduce the feeling of isolation and provide desperately needed breaks, information, advice and support for young adults across the UK living with the challenges of caring.
Designed to enhance recruitment, retention and support for employees with caring responsibilities, The Co-operative’s Carers Policy consolidates a range of flexible working and family leave arrangements; as well as signposting training and information for carers and a 24 hour employee assistance programme.
Liz Bramley, The Co-operative’s Head of Employee Engagement & Diversity, who worked with carers agencies to review and enhance its policy, said: “It is vital that organisations recognise the difficulties that employees can face when combining paid work with the demands, responsibilities and additional pressures of caring.
“Caring is a continuing and growing fact of life for many and our family-friendly approach is designed to give managers across our businesses the tools to act consistently and fairly.
“Accommodating individual needs that enable colleagues to balance caring responsibilities effectively with their employment responsibilities, the policy combines emergency leave, flexible working provisions and additional sources of support for carers to cover the wide range of circumstances that caring entails.”
Thea Stein, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said: “One of the key issues that we hear of from carers is how difficult it can be to combine their caring role with their career. By adapting a carer friendly policy around issues such as flexible working and emergency leave, employers can do so much in supporting employees who are carers.
“The Co-operative is to be applauded for introducing this new policy which, I am sure, will be of huge benefit to its colleagues. Combined with its partnership with Carers Trust, this new initiative shows that the Co-operative places carer welfare at both the heart of its business and the communities that it works in.”
During 2013, The Co-operative’s partnership with Carers Trust will work to transform the lives of the UK’s young adult carers.