February 7, 2020
Some 47 percent of employees who care for both children and elderly relatives (sandwich carers) are keeping these responsibilities hidden from their employer, a survey from BHSF, a not-for-profit health and wellbeing provider, has suggested. With so many choosing to stay quiet about their outside commitments, the researchers warn that employers are left floundering in the dark when it comes to providing the most appropriate employee benefits to support their workforce.
According to the Office for National Statistics, around 1.3 million UK adults fall into the category of sandwich carers, with over two thirds being women. Just over three quarters are in paid work and a third are aged between 35 and 44.
BHSF suggests that one reason why so many employees are failing to be open about their caring responsibilities is because, despite the recent focus on workplace wellbeing, a significant number of employers are still not providing the support their employees need to perform to their full potential. Three in 10 of the 1,000 employees surveyed said that they had left a job because their employer was not supportive enough of their caring responsibilities. Younger employees, those aged 25-34 who are beginning their careers, were most likely to have walked away from a job (39 percent).
Sandwich carers in London seem to be under significantly more pressure than elsewhere in the country, with 48 percent of respondents from the capital saying they had left a job because their employer wasn’t supportive enough.
Sandwich carers in London seem to be under significantly more pressure than elsewhere in the country, with 48 percent of respondents from the capital saying they had left a job because their employer wasn’t supportive enough. Those living in London tend to have moved there from other areas and may need extra support from their employer if they lack strong support networks to fall back on. Almost four million people living in the city were born overseas.
What support do sandwich carers want?
The survey respondents stated they would like more support through both employee benefits and a change in working practices. The most popular requests were:
- Flexible working options (32 percent)
- More understanding from line managers (25 percent)
- Access to health care support for dependents (23 percent)
- Access to health care support for themselves (22 percent)
- Mental health support (22 percent)
Brian Hall, Chief Commercial Officer for BHSF, said ‘This research clearly demonstrates the need for employers to build an open culture, where their employees feel comfortable to disclose this type of information and also feel able to ask for help when they need it. Added to this, they also need to ensure all employee benefits and support are communicated effectively and are readily available to employees anytime and anywhere.’
Image by Siggy Nowak