Ministry of Justice, Finalist 2015, The National Grid and Carers UK Best for Carers and Eldercare Award

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) appreciates that carers can bring valued skills to the workplace, and wants to retain these valuable staff. The MoJ has shown its commitment with a solid business case, senior level support and excellent career tracking, in addition to the implementation of the ‘Carer’s Passport’ scheme.

The MoJ has two Senior Civil Service level ‘Carers’ Champions’, who help to raise awareness of issues that may affect carers. They have their own intranet page to ensure staff know who they are and how to contact them. They have run both telephone and drop-in sessions to introduce themselves and to give staff the opportunity to raise issues which affect them. The Champions are Luigi Strinati (Delivery Director HMCTS, Wales) and Stephen Muers (Director Criminal Justice). Luigi Strinati, says: “As a father of two and an only child with sole caring responsibilities for parents in their late 80s, I believe I have hands-on experience of some of the issues that affect carers in the workplace. Over a third of our workforce in the MoJ have some kind of caring responsibility and I think it is essential that we work with all staff to raise awareness of the issues that affect carers in their day-to-day working lives, and the policies/guidance available to assist them.”

‘Phoenix’, the MoJ’s staff self-service system, asks staff if they have caring responsibilities. This recent addition is helping the MoJ to identify exactly how many carers there are in the workplace and collect other useful information such as what age bracket they fall into, their working pattern and their grade. The intention is that in the near future the MoJ will have enough data in relation to carers to monitor their career opportunities and development; for example if they are offered temporary responsibility allowance and what grade they are compared to staff who don’t have caring responsibilities. This will help the MoJ to identify any areas where there are disproportional impacts on carers’ working lives and careers.

The MoJ has introduced and promoted the Carer’s Passport, enabling staff to move through the organisation without having to re-explain their caring responsibilities to each new manager and in each new situation. To date over 100 MoJ staff have been granted a Carer’s Passport by the Charity for Civil Servants. The MoJ has published intranet articles and includes information on its intranet pages to encourage staff to take advantage of the Carer’s Passport. One user says: “I care for two elderly relatives who have terminal cancer. Having a Carer’s Passport has really helped as I don’t need to worry about explaining my situation to anyone, especially if I change managers. It makes everything clear, and sets out what I might need to help me combine working with caring.” The manager agrees: “From a management perspective, the Carer’s Passport is really useful. It sets out what the employee’s requirements are in relation to their caring role. This has helped me in my management role – if I know what the employee needs, it is much easier for me to support her whilst also giving me the opportunity to consider how business needs can still be met if she is not in the office. A win-win situation for all.”

In the future the MoJ aims to continue to raise the profiles of the Carers’ Champions to ensure staff know who they are and how to contact them, and to promote the Carer’s Passport and monitor its uptake. The MoJ also recognises that it is vital to continue to encourage staff to complete the caring responsibilities section on the ‘Phoenix’ system.