The Cabinet Office is developing a “carer’s charter” to be launched later this year and adopted by departments.
Civil Service Employee Policy, which sits in the Cabinet Office and provides human resources services to departments, is drawing up a series of policies intended to support staff with caring responsibilities.
In a series of parliamentary answers departments outlined the entitlements already available to staff, and some signalled an intention to adopt more robust policies later this year.
The Cabinet Office told Civil Service World that carers are already entitled to paid special leave and unpaid career breaks as set out in departmental special leave policies, while support and counselling is offered through Employee Assistance Programmes.
Many departments, including the Department for Education, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Transport, have carer’s networks in place to advise staff and provide peer support. The MoJ network is “supported by senior carers champions who raise the profile of issues facing carers”, the department said.
The Charity for Civil Servants also offers an advisory service to carers within the civil service, and it has developed the carer’s passport, which travels with civil servants as they transfer between jobs and provides new line managers with information on how an individual's caring responsibilities impact their work.
The Cabinet Office said it is “taking steps to encourage the wider use of the carers’ passport”.
In a series of parliamentary questions intended to inform an inquiry into support for carers in employment, Frank Field, chair of the Commons’ Work and Pensions Committee, asked departments how they support their employees with caring responsibilities.
Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said the department had signed up to a third year of membership to website Employers for Carers, which provides online access to tools, training and support.
Tracey Crouch, a minister in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said DCMS had a “Foster Carers’ & Family and Friends Carers’ Leave policy” that sets out entitlements to paid and unpaid leave, and a flexible working policy to support carers. Other departments outlined similar initiatives, but not all have a specific policy aimed at carers.
Crouch said DCMS would adopt the Cabinet Office carer’s charter later this year, while international trade minister Greg Hands said the Department for International Trade was “intending to develop a carer’s policy from the carer’s charter”.
A government spokesperson told CSW: “We are committed to being the most inclusive employer in the UK and to act as a role model to other employers.
“As part of this aspiration, work is underway to develop a model carers’ charter for use by departments."