Supporting carers in the workplace

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2022 Virtual National Women's Conference
14 October 2021

One in four workers are carer’s, the majority of these being women. 4.5 million people became unpaid carers as a result of Covid-19, which is an increase of 50% (Carers UK). This figure doesn’t include silent carers so the figures will be much higher. The lack of government awareness on the impact of caring responsibilities was noticeable in their response to Covid-19.

Many carers have had to reduce the number of working hours to be able to meet caring responsibilities and some carers have had to use annual leave or unpaid leave. We know many have been driven from the workplace as a result of the challenges they face with the demands of care and employment. While Covid-19 provided a level of increased flexibility at work for some, for others it worsened the problem.

As a union of over 1 million women, this has to be a priority for us. Supporting those with caring responsibilities to remain in the workforce is beneficial to women and to society as a whole. It can help to lift families out of poverty, and will reduce the gender pay gap by enabling and supporting those with caring responsibilities to progress to senior positions. It also increases women’s financial independence within society. This can be done with supportive employment terms, conditions and policies, but it also requires culture and attitude change. It requires us to value care, and the work of carers, in all forms.

We believe the following issues are a priority for UNISON, to support carers (the vast majority of which are women) in the workplace.

We ask the National women’s committee to:

1.Work with Labour Link and labour MP’s to lobby government for Improved employment rights for carers including meaningful flexible working rights and carers leave for all employees.

2.Work with Labour Link and labour MP’s to lobby government for Improved access to free, quality childcare.