It pays to be carer friendly

Experience shows there are tangible benefits for employers who are mindful of workers’ caring commitments:

  • They attract and keep skilled staff
  • They save on recruitment costs
  • They have a happier, productive workforce with fewer sick days
  • They are positively viewed by their community

Supporting workers who have caring responsibilities goes beyond simply being a good corporate citizen. It makes business sense to retain valuable employees. Being CareWise will also attract staff seeking an employer with caring values.

How can you support carers in your workplace?

Understand the challenges of being a working carer

Caring responsibilities can make it difficult to work ordinary hours. A carer may need occasional time off to attend medical appointments or deal with health emergencies. Different caring situations include new care, short-term care, long-term care, and immediate or emergency care.

Emergency circumstances can result in an employee needing time off with little notice; this may require understanding and practical support from managers and colleagues.

An increase in caring responsibilities may change an employee’s personal circumstances; at such times they may need more flexibility or a change in work patterns for a short time or longer-term.

Often workers who care may need to take or make personal calls or emails during work hours, or take short periods of time off to assist with transport to medical or other appointments. Starting and finishing work at off-peak times can assist with commuting pressures in large urban areas.

In larger organisations, especially, it is easier to support workers with caring responsibilities if you have formal policies in place. Carers NZ can help!

Be open to flexible working arrangements

Carers say the number one thing they want is the flexibility to change their working arrangements so they fit with their caring responsibilities. Flexibility can make all the difference for carers who, without this option, may not be able to keep working.

Learn about carers’ rights and obligations

Carers have a legal right, under Part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000, to ask for changes to their working arrangements in order to support someone close to them. CareWise workplaces will receive regular updates about workplace rights and obligations for carers.

Talk openly about the ‘what ifs’, listen, and share messages about caring 

Plan ahead with caring staff so you’re both comfortable about what arrangements might be needed if there is an emergency or more flexibility may be required. Understand who in your workplace has caring responsibilities. Ensure all employees understand that colleagues who are carers have extra responsibilities at home, and that as a CareWise workplace your organisation wants to help. Display CareWise posters with caring messages in common areas.