Support for Carers
Support for Carers
The University is committed to supporting staff health and wellbeing and one of the core elements of this commitment is supporting work life balance for staff with caring responsibilities. A number of policies and initiatives are in place to provide support for carers in the workplace and these are outlined below.
A Staff Carers Network has been established in the University. Any member of staff wanting to make contact with the network should email firstname.lastname@example.org. The purpose of the network is to provide working carers with the opportunity to come together and share experiences, discuss issues, ask questions and arrange informal meet ups.
Flexible Work Policy
Employees with caring responsibilities have the right to request to work flexibly, thereby enabling them to better balance work and home life. The main types of Flexible Work in place at Queen’s are part time and job share working arrangements.
Part-time working: work is generally considered part-time when employees are contracted to work anything less than full-time hours.
Job-sharing: a form of part-time working where two (or occasionally more) people share the responsibility for a job between them.
Carers can also avail of the Dependants Leave which provides employees with an immediate, short-term, and limited period of paid time-off, to deal with unforeseen emergencies or crises relating to dependants.
The aim of the Career Break Scheme is to facilitate members of staff who wish to take an unpaid break from their career for example for domestic or caring responsibilities. In addition, staff who have caring responsibility for someone (family or friend) who is seriously ill may want to take some time off under the Career Break Scheme to allow them to fulfil their caring responsibilities.
Unpaid Leave is available to staff although this should only be used in exceptional circumstances and where all annual leave accrued in the leave year has already been used. It is expected that Parental Leave and Dependant Leave should be used for caring responsibilities however where these have been exhausted or are not deemed appropriate, a request for unpaid leave can be a made.
Employees with children under the age of 18 have the right to request parental leave. Parental Leave gives members of staff, both fathers and mothers, the right to take time off work to look after a child or to make arrangements for the child’s welfare. Members of staff can use parental leave to spend more time with their children and strike a better balance between their work and family commitments. Employees at Queen’s do not have to meet a service requirement to request parental leave, they can request up to a maximum of 6 weeks per annum and a total of 18 weeks in total.
Staff with caring responsibilities have generous Annual Leave and can use some of this entitlement combined with the other types of leave to carryout caring duties.
Employees have access to a free independent confidential and professional counselling service provided by Carecall.
Carecall Professional Counsellors are fully qualified and experienced in a wide range of issues. They have a sensitive and practical approach to the difficulties experienced by staff with caring responsibilities. Staff can access counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on the free phone number 0800 389 5362.
Improving Personal Resilience Training
All staff within the University have access to training which may help them improve their personal resilience. The course, “Improving Personal Resilience”, helps staff recognise their own personal capacity for overcoming adversity, challenge negative thinking and emotional patterns, gain an understanding of emotional resilience and learn how to promote and develop personal resilience. The training emphasises the importance of self-care, allowing participants to understand their own personal stressors and how to apply suitable coping strategies. Book onto the training through iTrent Employee Self Service.
Health and Wellbeing Events
The University arranges monthly health and wellbeing events the full schedule of which is available on the staff wellbeing website. Many of the events will be of relevance to staff with caring responsibilities, for example, mental health awareness, cancer awareness, carer's support, parenting classes, relaxation. Full details are available on the Staff Wellbeing website.
Guidance for Managers
There are a significant number of people in the UK with caring responsibilities’, almost seven million, which is one in ten of the population. A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction, cannot cope without their support (ref Carers NI for more details).
Managers should take time to familiarize themselves with the support available for carers. In order to support staff with caring responsibilities staff are encouraged to disclose to their manager, in confidence, the nature of their caring responsibilities.
Staff may wish to keep details of their caring responsibilities confidential and managers must respect this.
When a member of staff notifies their manager of their caring responsibilities they should consider together what adjustments can be made to support the member of staff at work and at home with their caring duties. The sources of support are outlined above.
There will be occasions when caring responsibilities cannot be planned for and managers, with the individual employee, should discuss how they will deal with such occasions, if, and when, they arise.