Centrica estimates that UK companies could save up to £4.8 billion a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4 billion in improved employee retention by adopting flexible working policies to support those with caring responsibilities.
According to Carers UK, one in eight adults are informal carers, meaning they provide unpaid care for a friend or family member. With over three million people balancing these responsibilities with work, the significant demands of caring mean that one in five are forced to stop working altogether.
Centrica has experienced the financial benefits from supporting its employees with a flexible carer policy, saving an estimated £1.8 million a year by providing paid leave and peer support to help its employees avoid unplanned absences and presenteeism (working while unwell or not fully performing) due to caring responsibilities.
The company offers a range of support to 1,118 registered employees, including paid carers’ leave, the right to request flexible working and an employee-led carers’ network. The business also estimates cumulative savings of £1.3 million in increased retention through helping people stay in work while caring for others.
Following the success of its own policy, Centrica, the parent company of British Gas and Hive, is urging Government to ensure that all carers have the right to request flexible working from the day they start working with a company, along with a statutory paid carers’ leave policy.