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Published: 26 Jun 2024

Forward Carers – Commended 2024, Best for Carers and Eldercare

Through listening to carers and implementing innovative measures, Forward Carers are breaking down barriers that stop carers self-identifying and are constantly striving to improve the lives of carers in their own organisation and beyond.  

Carer-friendly policies 

Forward Carers understand that time is the most impactful benefit they can offer and so have become a Four Day Week employer, offering 100% FTE salary for 80% hours. Part-time workers are paid 10% above contracted hours, up to two hours per week, as an alternative benefit. In addition, flexibility is available from day one; all roles are offered as hybrid and can be flexible in response to changes in caring or parenting circumstances, either formally long-term or a shorter-term change agreed with a line manager. Core hours are minimal, to allow staff to manage their day in a way that works for them. Unpaid carers leave is available to manage caring responsibilities. Thought has been given to making life easier for people who are balancing care with work, for example parking priority for those who need it, using mobiles as required, and making adaptations to fit around caring as needed.  

Support for carers 

Forward Carers recognise the issues with self-identification and have initiatives to tackle this. Having flexibility in the definition of dependents as anyone who relies on an employee for support allows more people to identify as carers. The conversation around caring starts at the recruitment stage, as a Carer Friendly Employer. Discussions about caring responsibilities are normalised and integrated into the employee experience, from interview and induction to monthly supervision and team meetings, where peer support has been impactful. Caring status is featured on the HR portal and can be updated by the individual or line manager. All staff undertake Carer Aware training to help identify carers and help foster an inclusive culture, and trained Carer Champions act as a source of support and key point of contact. Mental health is discussed in every monthly supervision. Staff receive a free Carer Friendly ID card to access support and discounts in the community.  

Driving change  

Driven by a desire to be at the vanguard of carer workplace support so they can demonstrate to other workplaces that low-cost activities can be incredibly impactful, Forward Carers worked with carers and ex-carers on the staff team to understand what measures make a difference to their lives. As an SME, they know their working culture is a huge asset. Measures that they have taken have resulted in four carers self-identifying after joining, and enabling carers who didn’t feel work was possible to re-enter the workforce. Feedback from a survey about the implementation of the four-day week found that 100% of staff felt there had been an increase in work life balance, 90% in work satisfaction and 80% in productivity. They have been named in the top 100 Social Enterprise in the UK and Public Sector Social Enterprise of the Year. They offer paid Carers Leave, and future plans are to showcase the business benefits of supporting carers to inspire other organisations to take similar steps via their Carer Aware and Carer Champion training for workplaces and the Carer Friendly Employer Commitment Mark.