Supporting Working Carers Toolkit

This toolkit has been designed to help employers in South Tyneside support their staff who have caring responsibilities, retain talented employees and ensure working carers have equal opportunities in the workplace.

Who are working carers?

A working carer is someone in full or part-time employment, who also provides unpaid support, or who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their age, physical or mental illness, disability or an addiction.

Why is supporting working carers so important?

Most people’s lives will include at least one episode of caring. According to the 2021 census, around 2.5 million people in England and Wales alone (excluding full-time students) are combining paid employment with caring for older, disabled or seriously ill family members or friends. Research from Carers UK has estimated that one in seven people in the workplace in the UK are juggling work and care.

How it affects carers

Research has shown that, if unsupported, caring can have an adverse impact on people’s careers. Each year over 250,000 people give up work to care – the equivalent of 600 resignations per day. The consequent loss of skills, talent and productivity creates significant costs for employers. For those remaining in the workforce, caring without adequate support can result in poorer mental health, higher risk of burnout and financial worries. Furthermore, recent research by Employers for Carers found that over 70% of working carers had felt lonely or isolated in the workplace due to caring responsibilities.

Business benefits of supporting carers

Employers need to support carers. Far from compromising business objectives, research shows that using a flexible working approach achieves impressive business results. This flexible approach:

  • Attracts and retains staff
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces recruitment and training costs
  • Increases resilience and productivity
  • Reduces sick leave
  • Improves service delivery
  • Produces cost savings
  • Improves people management
  • Increases staff morale.

What employers can do

Caring is everyone’s business – each of us faces a 50/50 chance of becoming a carer by the age of 50. A key challenge for employers is that carers are often hidden in plain sight and not comfortable or confident talking about their caring responsibilities at work.

For this to change UK employers need a dedicated focus on working carers. Creating an environment where carers are seen and valued is a key part of this journey.

You can take simple and effective action to enable carers to balance their paid work with their caring responsibilities – and, as a result, retain the services of these valued employees. Carer-friendly policies can also help you tap into a new source of unrealised potential – the 1.5 million carers of working age in the UK who are not working currently. Flexible working practices – such as flexi-time, home working, annualised hours, compressed hours, shift swapping, self rostering, staggered hours, job sharing, term-time working, part-time working and flexible holidays – can help a carer balance work and caring commitments. These benefits support carers by addressing their individual situations rather than labelling them as people who need extra help or who have problems. Flexible working, open to all, reduces resentment about “preferential treatment.”

Employers for Carers (EfC) Free Digital Resources

Employers for Carers (EfC) is a digital platform that offers guidance to employers on how to implement carer-positive work practice. The objective is to give employers a toolkit so they can support employees who are carers so that their skills and experience can be retained within the business. EfC’s mission is to show the benefits of retaining carers in the workforce by adopting practices that better support carers. They provide employers and line managers with the tools they need to enable employees to manage their work commitments alongside their caring responsibilities.

Through South Tyneside Council’s membership of Employers for Carers, we are able to extend access to the resources to all small and medium sized local businesses. To get free access visit and sign up using the membership code EFC1953.

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 passed final legislation on 27 February 2024 which seals a ground breaking new right for two million employees with unpaid caring responsibilities to take up to five days of Carer’s Leave. The law will come into force on 6 April 2024 and employers will need to be prepared to deliver changes to the way they offer support to all unpaid carers in their workforce.

Carers UK and EfC will be providing resources to support the implementation of the Carer’s Leave Act as part of our EfC membership, including a detailed guide on the key provisions of the new law, an online training session and a training slide deck to roll out to managers. You will be able to access these resources on the EfC platform soon.

Download Carers UK Guidance on Preparing for the Carer’s Leave Act 2023.

Helpful tips from carers on how you can support them in the workplace

Staff wellbeing, recognise it’s sometimes hard to manage work/life balance: juggling family life/ caring responsibilities and wanting to continue to do a good job at work can lead to emotional and physical stress.  Provide support to line managers in supporting Carers within the team.

Encourage employees to identify themselves as Carers and provide an information pack to advise them of support available within the organisation and community.

Recognise the need to be flexible to allow time off to attend appointments – Do you operate flexible working so the Carer can attend appointments or caring duties during the working day and make up the time outside of normal working hours?

Carers need to talk to people who can offer advice and personal experiences – Do you know your Carer employees?  Can you provide opportunities for your Carer employees to meet and talk?

Consider training line managers about Carers’ needs and provide opportunities for the line managers to share their learning and experiences to support their staff.  There is guidance, information and e-learning courses on the EfC platform for Carers and their managers.

Links for working carers

You can signpost the carers in your organisation to South Tyneside Council’s website for information and advice from local and national organisations who can support carers in a variety of ways from financial support, practical support, access to counselling and one to one support, peer support and lots more. Go to

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