Flexible working options supported by most employee benefit consultants, while just under half are for paid short-term leave benefits
Employers should use employee benefit packages to better support staff members struggling to balance family caring responsibilities with work, research by Metlife Employee Benefits has suggested.
Of 202 employee benefits consultants surveyed, 60% suggested that the option of working from home was the most effective way to support employees with caring duties, while 59% believed the offer of flexible working options already existed for staff.
Around 33% of those surveyed agreed to support the right to paid long-term leave would benefit employees, while 27% suggested financial support should be offered to employees with caring responsibilities.
Around two in five (43%) said they would support paid short-term leave rights within contracts for those caring for elderly relatives, while one in three (33%) said they are hoping the group risk industry will develop specific benefits.
"More than three million employees already balance work with looking after elderly relatives and that number will only grow as the population ages," said Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director, MetLife UK.
"There is a potential cost for employers if staff need to take time off or even have to give up work. 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."
According to research carried out by Carers UK, one in eight (6.5 million) people in the UK are carers and over three million are juggling it with work - this is expected the number of UK carers will increase to nine million by 2037.
Carers save the UK economy £132bn per year and an average of £19,336 per carer. Carer's Allowance (£64.60 for a minimum of 35 hours) equates to just £1.85 per hour (compared to £6.70 per hour for minimum wage).
Metlife's new A Behavioural Approach to Employee Financial Wellness report recommends that employers engage with benefit providers to design financial wellbeing programmes to support staff suffering financial stress and balancing caring responsibilities with full-time work.
"The group risk industry can support employers and employees and look at new products or additions which can help address the issue," added Matthews. "Employee assistance programmes providing counselling are a step in the right direction and ideas highlighted by EBCs could be considered."
Metlife's group income protection includes a Wellbeing Hub offering confidential health and wellness services for employees and advice for line managers.
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