John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “There is an army of working carers in the UK who are juggling work responsibilities with home commitments. Their task has been made even more difficult after five years of cuts to local authority budgets that have left social care in turmoil, impacting on both the reliability and quality of services.
“Fewer people now qualify for state supported care and those that do are faced with lower levels of support. Usdaw members tell me that balancing work with care, which has never been easy, is now more difficult than ever as they step in to plug the gaps created by the cuts.
“Our members are also struggling to get their caring commitments recognised by employers in the absence of a nationwide carers register. Many employers are asking for proof of caring commitments which can be difficult to obtain, sometimes impossible.
“Carers do have the right to ask for flexible working, as do all employees with more than 6 months service, and the right to take unpaid time off in a family emergency. However, there are still few statutory employment rights for carers and very often members rely on the union’s support to assert them.
“Caring has immense rewards but without the right support it can take its toll on physical and mental health. Usdaw, often through our network of workplace reps, plays a key role in raising awareness of employment rights for carers and negotiating improvements beyond statutory minimums as well as signposting members to organisations like Carers UK for advice and information on issues outside of work.
“Working carers save the Government billions of pounds a year, it is not too much to ask that the Government provides a comprehensive package of rights to support working carers.
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
Carers' Rights Day: https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/carers-rights-day
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