All main government departments have signed up to a package of support to help the almost a quarter of civil servants who juggle their responsibilities at work with caring for a friend or relative.
A new carers' charter, launched this week by civil service chief people officer Rupert McNeil, will offer carers access to flexible working opportunities, assistance programmes and time off.
McNeil also launched the civil service-wide carer’s passport – a document containing details of the flexibilities an employee requires to enable them to combine work and caring.
In the 2017 Civil Service People Survey, 67,000 people (23% of staff) identified themselves as carers.
Through the charter, carers – defined by McNeil as those who “who look after a friend or family member who, due to illness, disability, a mental health problem, or an addiction, cannot cope without your support” – can access a range of workplace support. This includes paid and unpaid special leave, career breaks, flexible working, carers’ networks and employee assistance programmes.
The CPO added that many of these links will also be helpful for parents.
Alongside the 18 main government departments, the Valuation Office Agency, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Crown Prosecution Service, and the Government Legal Department have also signed up to the charter.
More details of available support will be outlined on departmental intranets.
The carer’s passport is a concept originally developed by the Charity for Civil Servants, which has helped to develop the new civil service-wide version. Those with passports that were provided by the charity can continue to use them, or transfer them to the new template.
McNeil said: “This is a simple communication tool that enables a carer and their manager to discuss and document the flexibilities needed to combine caring and work.
“The aim is to minimise the need to renegotiate these flexibilities every time an employee moves post, moves between departments or is assigned a new manager.”
An estimated three million people – one in nine workers – balance care with paid work, according to McNeil. He called on civil service managers to consider whether anyone in their teams could benefit from the new support available, and if so to initiate conversations with them.
New legislation came into force in 2014 that entitles workers to request flexible working arrangements after 26 weeks’ employment. The employer does not have to agree, and will consider business interests when making a decision, according to the Charity for Civil Servants.