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Centrica encourages government action on paid carers leave

Centrica and Carers UK are calling on the Government to introduce 5 to 10 days of mandatory paid carers leave for all employers.

Iain Conn, group chief executive of Centrica, has written to the chief executives of the UK’s 100 largest employers to encourage more support for carers and to open a dialogue sharing best practice and experience.

Centrica estimates show that UK companies could save up to £4.8bn a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4bn in improved employee retention by adopting flexible working policies to support those with caring responsibilities.

Centrica is announcing a change to its carers policy giving employees more paid for leave, without using annual leave allowances, to meet their caring responsibilities. It will now offer 10 days paid leave to all its carers followed by another 10 days that can be taken if matched with annual leave. Previously, Centrica employees would need to take a day of annual leave to use one of their 20 days of paid for carers leave. The company also provides flexible working from day one of becoming a carer and a carers network which offers peer support.

Centrica will be rolling out these policy changes globally – also giving the company a leading carers policy in North America.

According to Carers UK, the number of people balancing care responsibilities with work has now grown to over five million people from the three million previously identified in 2011. However, the significant demands of caring mean that 2.6 million people have been forced to stop working altogether.

In the letter to the largest UK employers, Iain Conn CEO of Centrica, says:

“We are focused on retaining a diverse and skilled workforce through our Carers Policy which includes flexible working and a carers network. We have announced a change to our carers leave policy to give our employees more time off to care for their loved ones without using their holiday allowances. We will be applying these principles across Centrica globally. We believe it’s the right thing for businesses to do and at Centrica we want to support our employees and share best practices with other employers.”

The letter is co-signed by Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, and can be found in full at www.centrica.com/caring

Helen commented: “More than 600 people give up work every day to care for a loved one, often taking with them skills and years of experience. Whether looking after a partner receiving hospital treatment, or supporting parents to live independently at home, a right to five to 10 days paid care leave could make all the difference to a member of staff juggling work and care.

“It’s important now more than ever that the Government and employers support the rising number of carers to remain in work. It makes good business sense and helps families who are caring. The consequences of failing to do so are huge.”

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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