Helping local businesses become more carer friendly

Over the last 2 years we have been participating in a national pilot to develop a wide range of support for carers in employment and the organisations they work for.

1 in 7 people are juggling caring for a friend or relative whilst working, with 1 in 5

leaving their employment due to the strain of their additional caring responsibilities.

We have been working closely with local businesses across Bristol and South Gloucestershire to raise awareness and develop support tools and services, which they can access to improve the wellbeing of their staff who are carers. One of these businesses is Aviva, who launched a pilot in their Bristol office called #wecare.

As a result of this pilot Aviva has now rolled out support across all of its UK sites. This will help support the significant number of people balancing their careers with caring responsibilities. Their new carers policy gives their employees who are carers the same entitlement as parents taking unpaid leave and its benefits include:

· Up to 35 hours paid leave per holiday year for time off for a planned event, for example to attend a hospital appointment with the person being cared for.

· Up to 35 hours paid leave per holiday year for emergencies.

· If employees with caring responsibilities need a longer period of time away from work, Aviva has extended parental leave (not to be confused with maternity/paternity leave) to include carers too. This means that employees with caring responsibilities can request unpaid leave up to a maximum of 4 weeks per year (18 weeks in total).

· If employees need a more permanent change they can ask to adjust their working pattern, for example to request part time hours to help balance their long term caring duties with work.

· Additionally, Aviva have increased paid bereavement leave from 35 to 70 hours.

Andy Briggs, CEO UK Insurance and Global Life and Health, Aviva, said:

“When we launched the ‘We Care’ pilot at our Bristol site, it became very clear that we needed to do more. We had to take action so people knew it was okay to work and be a carer.”

“We’ve also carried out independent research which revealed 83% of UK carers believe they should be treated by employers in the same way as parents – for example, having the right to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave. We are very pleased to introduce this policy to give further support to all of our UK colleagues. “

“Changing demographics and an ageing population mean that three in five people in the UK will end up caring for someone at some point in their lives. So we’ve taken this step to support our workers and the people they care about. It’s absolutely the right thing to do.”

This is a great example of an employer who values their employees and has a good understanding of the impact that caring can have on someone’s day to day life. We are really pleased to have been working with Aviva and will continue to support them with training, onsite surgeries and events over the coming year. If your business would like some support in becoming more ‘carer friendly’ please contact Fiona Malpas on 01179 589985.