This week is Carers Week. Sainsbury’s is proud to sponsor this annual charity campaign which raises awareness of caring, highlights the challenges carers face and recognises the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
New research published this week has found that two thirds of carers in the UK (66%) have given up work, or reduced their hours to care for a loved one; and almost half of carers (47%) have struggled financially, so it’s clear that juggling work and caring is one of the main problems affecting the carer community. By increasing awareness of this community, of often unsung heroes, hopefully their responsibilities will become fully recognised both within the workplace and the wider community.
Our vision is to be the most inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop. To achieve this we need to fully understand the needs of both our customers and colleagues. It is estimated that around one in eight people in the UK have caring responsibilities which means that at any time around 20,000 of our colleagues are managing caring responsibilities, as well as their job.
To support these colleagues in 2011 we became one of the first FTSE 100 companies to introduce a ‘Carer’s Policy’. Our policy applies to all colleagues regardless of their role, or whether they work in a store, depot, or support centre. Colleagues who have caring responsibilities can request to change their hours, times or place of work on a temporary, alternative, or permanent basis. We offer ‘Carer Days’ for carers who need time away from work to attend appointments with the person they care for; and we allow emergency leave to support carers dealing with unexpected situations. We also have an online ‘Carers Group’ where colleagues can connect, share advice, and support others in their caring situations.
Colleagues who have benefited from our policies range from a 21 year old apprentice who has been caring for her grandmother and grandfather who suffer from Crohn’s Disease to a father of six young children, three of whom have physical and mental disabilities. He chose to work at Sainsbury’s because of our flexible working policies.
We know our policies are making a difference and help us to attract and retain great colleagues. But we don’t pretend to have all the answers so we also direct colleagues to great organisations like Carers UK for more advice and support.
Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary and Corporate Services Director, and Board Sponsor for Disability, Age and Carers