According to the latest research from Carers UK, 1 in 7 workers are juggling work with caring. It also showed that 0.5 million people gave up work over the last 2 years in order to care and 2 million carers have reduced their working hours.
In the 2022 QUB staff pulse survey which had a 66% response rate (2823 staff), almost 1 in 5 (551) of respondents said they had caring responsibilities for a dependant older person(s) and almost 1 in 10 (255) of respondents said they looked after a person/persons with a disability/disabilities.
At Queen’s University we aim to support our colleagues who are balancing work alongside their caring responsibilities. Throughout this website, you will find information on the variety of help, support and policies available at Queen’s to assist you as a working carer.
You may have been caring for a while, or it could have happened due to an unexpected event or diagnosis. We understand that being a carer can mean juggling lots of different commitments such as your job, your caring role, family and your own personal needs.
You are actively encouraged to inform your line manager if you are caring for someone and need support. In this way we can work together to ensure that, wherever possible, you can continue in your job and effectively balance your work and caring commitments.
WHAT IS A CARER?
The University recognises carers may have significant caring responsibilities which have a substantial impact on their working life. You may be responsible for the care and support of a disabled, elderly or sick partner, relative or friend who is unable to care for themselves.
Your caring responsibilities may include but not be limited to:
- helping someone with personal care;
- helping someone with mobility;
- managing someone’s medication;
- practical household tasks;
- providing emotional support to someone; or
- helping someone with financial matters or paperwork.
There is a wide range of caring responsibilities. This guidance aims to cover short-term caring as well as long-term arrangements.
BALANCING WORKING AND CARING
A number of policies are available at Queen’s to help you balance your working life with your caring role. We have summarised these below, for the full policies please click on the link Worklife Balance Policies.
Working flexibly can provide you with an opportunity to continue your career, support your family financially as well as maintaining your caring responsibilities.
All carers have certain statutory workplace rights, such as the right to request a formal flexible working arrangement after 26 weeks of employment. We have recently amended our formal flexible working policy so requests can be considered from day one for all employees.
You can apply for changes to your hours of work or working pattern to enable you to have a better balance between work and home life. Examples of flexible working arrangements include part- time working (reduced number of days or reduced number of hours each day), job sharing, etc.
Changes to your terms and conditions of employment are applied on a pro-rata basis including salary, annual leave, bank holidays, sick pay etc.
Whilst approval of a flexible working request is at the discretion of the line manager, the University expects every request to be considered seriously and should the original proposal not be feasible, a conversation should take place to explore alternative options.
Applications can only be refused if there is a clear business reason.
“Queen’s have supported me as a carer by providing short notice changes to my working hours on a number of occasions as well as allowing me to break my annual leave down to single hours, rather than a half days leave every time to cover appointments for my dependants.” Angela McMenamy, External Relations Officer, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
We understand that managing work-life balance is essential for your wellbeing. As well as a generous annual leave allowance and flexible approach, we will support you if you need to take time off for public duties, caring responsibilities or personal problems.
Dependant Leave may be granted in the case of an emergency, illness, injury, incident or breakdown of care for a dependant of a member of staff. In most cases one or two days paid leave should be sufficient to deal with the immediate emergency.
Dependant Leave also provides the staff member with time off to deal with the death of a dependant or relative.
The Parental Leave Policy allows parents:
- A total of 18 weeks planned unpaid leave, for each child up to their 18th Birthday.
- A maximum of 6 weeks per year.
The leave must be taken in one week blocks but can be taken as single days if the child has a disability.
The reason for arranging leave does not have to be related to the child’s health and can include reasons such as accompanying a child during their first week at school, spending time with a child who is in hospital or simply maintaining a positive work-life balance.
Unpaid Leave is available in exceptional circumstances and where all annual leave accrued has already been used.
Parental Leave and Dependant Leave should be used in the first instance for caring responsibilities but where these have been exhausted or deemed inappropriate a request for unpaid leave can be made.
Our Career Break Scheme enables you to take an unpaid break from your career for many purposes including domestic or caring responsibilities.
You can apply once you have completed your probationary period.
Career Breaks can be for a minimum of one year up to a maximum of 3 years.
Requests for career breaks are considered on an individual basis taking into account business needs.
Queen’s have recently launched the Carer Passport which provides a way for you to explain to your manager about your caring situation so they understand the flexibility you need.
It allows a two-way discussion about flexibility. This conversation will generally involve balancing your needs with the needs of your business area. It does not normally involve a formal change to your contract of employment.
Often carers are required to attend medical appointments with Their dependants and the University recognises the difficulties this can create.
Wherever possible, appointments should be made outside of working hours or at the start/end of the day.
However, where this is not possible, managers should use their discretion to allow flexibility of hours/remote working should this not have an impact operationally.
Dr Joe Allen, PGCHET Director
“The flexibility to work from home at times with two young children, being a widower, as well as sole carer for my elderly mother has been invaluable. The Canvas VLE, Cloud Storage of documents and remote access systems have all made it possible for me to work very effectively from locations outside of my office as well as from home. This has been particularly useful when for example the children’s school has issued an exceptional closure day at short notice.”
Caring for a loved one can have emotional highs and lows. These feelings are normal and a natural part of adapting to your change in circumstances.
Inspire wellbeing provide staff with a free, independent, confidential and professional counselling service.
They have a sensitive and practical approach to the difficulties experienced by staff with caring responsibilities. This can be delivered by telephone and/or face to face.
Our Carers Network
Carers often report becoming isolated as a result of their caring responsibilities.
The University has a Staff Carers Network which provides working carers with the opportunity to come together, share experiences, discuss issues, ask questions and arrange informal meet ups.
To join the network email email@example.com.
The University is committed to supporting staff health and wellbeing. We arrange monthly health and wellbeing events many of which are relevant for staff with caring responsibilities for example mental health awareness, sleep advice, cancer awareness, relaxation.
At Queen’s Sport staff can avail of reduced membership rates.
We also offer reduced price massages on campus from Nightingale Holistic Therapies. Full details are available on the Staff Wellbeing Website.