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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

Surrey County Council Introduces Paid Carers’ Leave

Surrey County Council has introduced paid leave for staff who juggle work with caring for a loved one.

With Carers Rights Day on Thursday 23 November, the county council is highlighting a new policy which enables staff with caring responsibilities to take up to five days’ paid leave in a 12-month period.

This is on top of an employee’s normal holiday allowance and can be used for a wide range of caring activities such as medical appointments.

Earlier this year, new legislation was passed guaranteeing carers in the workforce the right to five days of unpaid leave a year, but a date for the law to come into effect has yet to be announced. The county council has already gone further by introducing leave without loss of pay, in recognition of the contribution of its own working carers.

Figures from the last census suggest there are 2.5 million carers in employment in England and Wales, who may be looking after a partner, an elderly parent, a disabled child or anyone who relies on them for a long-term need. 90,000 Surrey residents indicated that they provide unpaid care for someone.

The move to introduce paid leave was championed by Surrey County Council’s Carer Network, a forum for staff who are unpaid carers and come together on a regular basis. Looking after someone on top of your day job can be an isolating experience, so the network enables staff to talk to others facing the same sort of issues, helping reduce stress and absence.

Along with other forms of support, the county council’s decision on leave was instrumental in helping it gain the next level in a nationally-recognised accreditation scheme for employers recently. The Carer Confident Level 2 award recognises those organisations who adopt carer-friendly practices.

Sinead Mooney, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Surrey County Council summarises the benefits of being carer aware:

“We are determined to do the right thing by our colleagues who face additional caring responsibilities outside work. Being an unpaid carer for someone who relies on you for help can place a huge burden on a person’s physical and mental health, so it’s only right that we do what we can to support our employees who find themselves in that position."

“We know that many of our colleagues who look after someone with a long term need are in the most productive phase of their working life. To us, it’s common sense to promote carers’ rights and demonstrate our commitment to our employees.”

Details of the support available to all carers across Surrey, regardless of their age or employment status, can be found here.

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