As we live longer, more of us will combine work with chronic health conditions, disability, and or caring responsibilities for family members or close friends who face similar challenges.
Our Missing Million research found that struggling to manage a caring responsibility and/or having a chronic health condition are among the main factors which lead to people over 50 to exit the workforce early. On average, 12 in every 100 employees will have a caring responsibility and half all working people over 50 have a chronic health condition.
One of the reasons we are living and working longer is because we have better access to healthcare and are more able to look after ourselves. Increased longevity is a testament to extraordinary social progress, but there are some people who are at risk of leaving the workforce altogether - including those who are responsible for care, those in physically demanding jobs, those living in poverty, and many more.
Recommendations for business
- Introduce carer’s networks, carer’s leave, and support for elder care as an employee benefit.
- Encourage care champions to increase visibility of carers and role model the balancing of work and care.
- Prioritise workplace wellbeing policies on preventative action and reasonable adjustments for people with health conditions and/or disabilities.
- Embed carers in family friendly and work/life balance policies and in health and wellbeing initiatives.
- Develop and recognise new models of career success that allow for periods of plateau and career breaks or sabbaticals related to caring commitments or personal development.
Recommendations for government
- Introduce 5-10 days of paid care leave from paid employment.
- Conduct a review of how tax breaks could support families to buy care or other services to help carers remain in work alongside their caring responsibilities.
- Create public services around the needs of the individual – join up health, social care and employment support services in local areas to drive change.
- Legislate for flexible working from day one so that employees have the right to request flexible working from the start of the job application process, rather than waiting 26 weeks.