Leading the way as a Carer Friendly Company
Our blueprint for change
During the pandemic, it’s estimated that 2.6 million people have had to give up work to care. And we think businesses can do more to make life easier for their customers and colleagues who regularly look after a loved one. So we worked with Carers UK to create the Carer Friendly Company blueprint, which aims to encourage positive change for unpaid carers across the nation.
This blueprint provides a framework for companies to help unpaid carers feel better understood, valued and represented in their company values and actions. As well as offering extra support to customers and training staff to understand the challenges that carers can face, it also recommends carer-friendly policies to help colleagues balance work life with looking after a loved one.
How we’re helping our customers who care
There are lots of ways we support our customers who care. As well as training our customer service teams to better understand carers’ needs, we’ve also introduced a ‘Carers Flag’ on our database. This flag makes it much easier for our advisers to identify carers and offer extra support that could make a huge difference.
Plus, we’re able to help carers through our Priority Service Register, which gives them advanced notice of things like planned power cuts and priority support in an emergency. So they can continue caring for their loved ones, no matter what.
Supporting our caring colleagues
It’s not easy to juggle work life with being a carer. That’s why we’re leading the way with carer-friendly policies that help our colleagues find a balance.
Flexible working, whenever they need it
Caring doesn’t just happen on evenings and weekends. So we do our best to help colleagues fit work around their caring responsibilities – whether that’s earlier or later start times, or the ability to work from home on a regular basis.
Daniel Robertson balances his job as a Customer Process Performance Manager with caring for his wife. Our flexible working policy means he can be home to look after her without giving up work.
My wife is extremely vulnerable and was also in the process of starting a new medication which completely wipes her immune system… The ability to work from home when the office was still open was essential as there is no way I could have gone to work otherwise.
And Victoria Donovan, one of our Customer Service Advisors who looks after her dad, agrees:
I never really have to take time off as I work my diary around my dad and his appointments. However, whenever I have had to leave in a rush the business/my manager always supports this.
Dedicated Carers Leave
Our Carers Leave policy gives carers extra paid leave to use for things like hospital appointments, instead of having to give up precious holiday days. That way, carers can meet the demands of being a carer while still being able to take some much-needed time out for themselves.
Patrick McCarthy, Director of Tooling & Architecture, cares for his profoundly disabled daughter, Martha. Carers Leave has meant he’s been able to take her to regular hospital appointments and surgeries, while still leaving time to spend together with the rest of the family.
Centrica have been supportive with a great carers leave policy. Being able to take up to 10 days carers leave in a rolling 12-month period has been a massive help when I’ve needed it.
Carers Leave helps ease the responsibility on young carers too. Like Jade McCann, a young carer who looks after her brother alongside her mum, Marie, a British Gas employee:
She has access to Centrica Carers Leave and now I'm older I can see this has enabled my mum to balance the support that Jamie needs while also being there to support me and my sister.
The Centrica Carers Network
Being an unpaid carer can be incredibly isolating, so our Carers Network provides a lifeline of support for over 1,400 members – particularly during the pandemic. As well as connecting like-minded carers from across the business, it offers practical and emotional support to those who need it, champions our carers policy, and makes sure our carers’ voices are always heard.
As a co-chair of our Carers Network, I, along with the rest of the network, have been working hard this year to ensure that line managers are aware of Centrica’s carers policy and that it’s used consistently across all areas of our business.
If you look after a loved one, or you know someone who does, head to the Carers UK website to find out about the types of support available.