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Tuesday 09 June 2020

Carers in the civil service: Understanding how best to support you

By Victoria Jones and Santosh Bhabra

The FDA has launched a survey for members and non-members with caring responsibilities to help shape our work. Victoria Jones, FDA Equality Officer, and Santosh Bhabra, LAA Branch Representative, highlight why this work is so important.


As a union we support members whenever they face barriers at work. Often our casework support focuses around grievances and disciplinaries, but in recent months the number of carers turning to the FDA for support has increased. Caring responsibilities for many may have changed or increased during the pandemic, and for others now is proving a good time to sense-check the balance between work and home.

There are some positive practices in place to support carers in the Civil Service and the launch of the Civil Service Carer’s Passport in 2018 has moved the issue up the agenda. That being said, the application of the passport can be a bit hit-and-miss. We decided to roll out a survey after personally navigating the adoption of a Carer’s Passport and identifying obstacles which we think could be rectified to make the process easier for those who rely on the passport as a source of support.

Santosh cares for her mother and the process to agree flexibility and sign off a Carer’s Passport took much longer than we’d hoped for and the outcome we eventually settled on wasn’t one of our immediate preferences. We have a good understanding of how employers adopt and apply policies but not everyone is as confident in wading through guidance.  We want to ensure that appropriate detailed information is available for managers who might be dealing with a request for the first time, as well as support for members who might look to go down this route.

According to the 2018 People Survey, 67,000 civil servants identified as carers. Having the right support at work is crucial if we’re going to be able to ensure that our carers are able to continue in their roles while balancing their caring commitments too. Our survey will help us to sense-check the support that is available and identify room for improvement. If you’ve got any further questions, suggestions or comments please do get in touch – equalitymatters@fda.org.uk.

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