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2012 National Women's Conference
20 October 2011

For many years women have been the main carers within the home for their children, disabled and elderly parents. Women have fought for the right to be recognised and to be treated as equal to men.

Many workplaces now have policies in place to enable employees to take time off work to care for their sick children. Unfortunately, these policies do not reflect the fact that, as a society, we are all living longer and in many families it usually falls on the women to care for disabled and elderly dependents. Many dependents need to attend regular hospital appointments, sometimes over a number of months and even years.

It would appear that some employees women in particular are having difficulties in obtaining time off work to care for their elderly dependents, especially from line managers, this may be due to the fact that as predominantly the main carer they may have already accessed their carers leave and be up to the maximum of their annual leave entitlement.

This Committee recognises that our women members need support from their employers to take time from their employment to care for their dependents. This will be a positive action helping the already overburdened social services sector.

Whilst in the role of carer, it is additionally realised that within the idealogical cuts put forward from this coalition Government cut backs have been made in the field of public sector social care, with private, often less regulated companies, providing care to our elders of extremely poor standards where they are left unattended in soiled sheets overnight and facing a prolonged wait for poorly paid and over committed carers to arrive.

On some occasions these carers are unqualified and are allocated the minimum of time to perform their tasks. They have been known to take personal calls whilst dealing with a service user, have been unfocussed and inattentive to service users at times in desperate need.

We are concerned for the many safeguarding and health issues which may arise if situations such as these are allowed to go unregulated and unchecked.

In the first instance of carer’s leave for women, Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee work to:

1)Provide guidelines to branches and activists on how to work alongside managers to engage in supportive discussions to facilitate time off (leave, flexible working or a personal arrangement) for members so affected.

2)In respect of the impact of the cuts on women in the caring professions and the effects on our cared for, the National Women’s Committee liaise with our relevant organisations who set national standards for the work of the caring professions and National Inspection Agencies in obtaining information to bring enhanced awareness of the real situations and safeguarding issues which may arise if these situations remain unchecked.

3)The National Women’s Committee, become involved with campaigning initiatives that will support women in the role of carer.