The Carer’s Leave Act comes into force from 6 April 2024, and means employers will be required to offer their employees up to one week’s unpaid leave per year to give or arrange care for a dependant. While, nurse-led health and wellbeing company, RedArc accepts this is a step in the right direction, it believes there is more that employers can do.

Many employees may not be able to afford to take unpaid leave, and also, simply mandating employers to grant leave that’s unpaid, leaves significant gaps in the support that carers actually need in practice. From experience, RedArc knows that caring for a loved one can be complex and the impact on employees’ mental, physical, financial and social health can be significant.

RedArc believes there are further ways to build on the Carer’s Leave Act that can make a tangible difference in the lives of carer-employees and recommends that employers would do well to consider taking additional steps:

  • Providing or arranging care for an elderly, disabled, vulnerable or seriously ill loved one can often be mentally draining. Employers should ensure that mental health support is available within employee benefits programmes to help employees cope at this difficult time.
  • Carer-employees often feel isolated and benefit from being signposted to relevant charities where they can share their experiences with like-minded individuals, this can build a vital sense of community with others in a similar situation. However, knowing which charities and local support is available and how to reach out to them is difficult and time-consuming, so having experts who can research this for them is hugely beneficial.
  • Access to clinical experts is often required at this time to help better understand a loved one’s medical issues to determine the accurate level of care they require. Having a deeper understanding can directly help the carer to know how best to help support.
  • Even when care is arranged, the caregiver is often the lynchpin and so they must be offered support for their own physical wellbeing in order to continue to support others. This could comprise nutrition, fitness and wider wellbeing support to help the caregiver maintain optimal health.
  • When care is required, it can have a huge impact on the finances of the individual needing that care and their families too. Being offered support to understand how to access financial experts such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and organisations such as Step Change can give real peace of mind.

While being granted a week’s leave to provide or arrange care is not insignificant, employers need to recognise the wider support that is needed. Employers who fail to do so risk losing valuable staff as they may feel they need to turn to part-time working, opt for a less-consuming or less-stressful role, or resign, which in turn can also take its toll on their finances.

Christine Husbands, commercial director for RedArc said: “Caring can impact someone’s ability to work, in fact, it’s well documented that many people find the pressures of working and caring too much and choose to leave the workforce entirely. Having a week of clear headspace to provide or arrange care is real progress but it needs to come hand in hand with much wider support to help carers stay in work, long after the unpaid leave is over.”