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Published: 26 Aug 2016

Ministry of Justice, Highly Commended 2016, The Carers UK Best for Carers and Eldercare Award

Key features

  • A wide ranging set of initiatives to make being a carer compatible with a career in the Ministry of Justice and the wider Civil Service.
  • Asking carers to identify themselves has enabled the Ministry of Justice to track the performance outcomes, career development and engagement of those with caring responsibilities, ensuring staff are not disadvantaged.
  • A new carers’ network has quickly developed an excellent and proactive reputation.
  • The Ministry’s approach to carers includes information sharing amongst all staff so that carers feel more understood and less isolated.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has introduced an excellent range of policies to support all staff, and particularly carers. Their definition of carer goes beyond the statutory one: the amount of care provided may vary; carers do not have to live with the person they are caring for; they include pre and school aged children and teenagers; they include eldercare, caring for a relative, partner or friend with a disability; and caring for a relative, partner or friend with a physical or mental illness.

The MoJ’s approach is also comprehensive and wide ranging. Support for carers is really embedded into the organisational culture with a focus on fairness for carers. For example, staff can choose to identify themselves as carers on the staff IT system, enabling the MoJ to monitor the experience of carers in the workforce, specifically looking at performance outcomes, career progression, promotion and engagement. Up to five days’ special leave are paid, but more can be agreed at a manager’s discretion.

Within the MoJ, carers can work a series of different working patterns: reduced hours, remote working and home working and this can be a temporary change or a permanent change in contract. Information and guidance is available via the intranet for all staff and their managers, signposting to policies and internal sources of help.

Support for carers is led from the top with two Senior Civil Service carers’ champions helping to raise awareness of issues that affect carers. These champions have their own intranet page so staff know who they are and how to contact them and they have held  lunches and information sessions.

The MoJ launched a volunteer-run carers network in June 2015 which aims to support all staff with caring responsibilities. An information pack was developed to provide staff with information about caring responsibilities, how the network can help and the support available within MoJ. This is available to all staff, not just those with caring responsibilities. Providing information to all staff aims to reduce the feelings of isolation carers have and ensures all staff have a greater understanding of a carer’s needs. The network has quickly developed a reputation across government for its work and profile.

Regular reminders encourage staff to take advantage of the carer’s passport initiative introduced by the Charity for Civil Servants, which records a person’s caring responsibilities so that they can move from post to post without having to re-explain their situation. The MoJ and other government departments regularly share information on best practice in the support of carers which also enables the movement of carers between departments should their careers take them on that path.