Diversity and inclusion in the workforce: defining employees who are carers

While 1 in 8 is the official figure for the number of Australian employees who are carers, it is likely that this is an under representation as many carers don’t identify as one. This is particularly so for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and for Aboriginal Australians.

It is important that employers recognise and support carer populations in their workforce, but to do so the definition of a carer needs to be understood. Carers also need to be able to identify as carers and feel comfortable to disclose this at work, should they wish to.

So what is the definition of a carer?

There are federal and state definitions, however it is generally accepted that a carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail and/or aged.

Other points to note :

  • Carers do not have to live with the person they care for.
  • Carers are not professional paid care workers.
  • It does not refer to parents with children without any additional needs.
  • Carers may be caring from a distance, for example interstate.

The cost of not supporting carers in the workplace has implications for both individuals and employers. Carers face limitations in their careers, including refusing roles and interruptions in career progression. Carers in the workplace may also face adversity due to misunderstandings or uninformed bias resulting from a lack of awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by carers.

The benefits to employers of recognising, including and supporting carers in the workforce are many including talent attraction, retention and being seen as an employer of choice.

Carers + Employers is a national employer accreditation program that recognises carer friendly workplaces and is the first of its kind in Australia. If your organisation would like to find out more, please visit https://carersandemployers.org.au/ or email info@carersandemployers.org.au

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.

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