Helping staff who juggle long-term caring responsibilities for family members could be key for employers in improving their employee benefits engagement, according to new research from MetLife UK.
Around 60% of employee benefit consultants believe increased use of working from home, as well as flexible working options, would be important in helping staff, the study reveals.
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Data indicates that around three million employees in the UK juggle caring with full-time work – and one in five are forced to stop work altogether, leading to a knock-on effect on their finances, their employers and the economy as a whole, MetLife said. The number of workers balancing caring responsibilities with their job could grow to as many as nine million over the next 20 years, it added.
“More than three million employees already balance work with looking after elderly relatives and that number will only grow as the population ages,” Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said.
Highlighting the potential cost to employers if staff need to take time off or give up work, Matthews said that making changes now so that employees know there is support available may prove invaluable in the long-run.
“Our research shows employee benefits are increasingly valued by staff and providing the option of support for caring responsibilities would enhance that,” he said.
“The group risk industry can support employers and employees and look at new products or additions which can help address the issue. Employee assistance programmes providing counselling are a step in the right direction and ideas highlighted by EBCs could be considered.”
One of the more radical ideas supported by employee benefit consultants include offering rights to paid short-term leave in employment contracts to help workers who are carers for elderly relatives.
Around two out of five (43%) would support new rights, while a third want the group risk industry to develop specific benefits, the research found.
One third also said they believe the right to paid long-term leave would help, while 27% believe employers should offer financial help to employees with caring responsibilities.