The Co-operative reveals new policy for caring colleagues

December 18, 2012

The Co-operative today (18 December) announced an enhanced family-friendly people policy offering further support to its staff who are also unpaid adult carers.

The UK has an estimated seven million carers and, The Co-operative’s own internal research has revealed that more than one in ten of its 100,000 employees currently look after family, partners or friends in need of help because of illness, frailty or disability.

The move comes as the UK’s largest member-owned organisation gets set to launch its 2013 Corporate Charity of the Year partnership with Carers Trust - raising the money needed to reduce the feeling of isolation and provide desperately needed breaks, information, advice and support for young adults across the UK living with the challenges of caring.

Designed to enhance recruitment, retention and support for employees with caring responsibilities, The Co-operative’s Carers Policy consolidates a range of flexible working and family leave arrangements; as well as signposting training and information for carers and a 24 hour employee assistance programme.

Liz Bramley, The Co-operative’s Head of Employee Engagement & Diversity, who worked with carers agencies to review and enhance its policy, said: “It is vital that organisations recognise the difficulties that employees can face when combining paid work with the demands, responsibilities and additional pressures of caring.

“Caring is a continuing and growing fact of life for many and our family-friendly approach is designed to give managers across our businesses the tools to act consistently and fairly.

“Accommodating individual needs that enable colleagues to balance caring responsibilities effectively with their employment responsibilities, the policy combines emergency leave, flexible working provisions and additional sources of support for carers to cover the wide range of circumstances that caring entails.”

Thea Stein, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said: “One of the key issues that we hear of from carers is how difficult it can be to combine their caring role with their career. By adapting a carer friendly policy around issues such as flexible working and emergency leave, employers can do so much in supporting employees who are carers.

“The Co-operative is to be applauded for introducing this new policy which, I am sure, will be of huge benefit to its colleagues. Combined with its partnership with Carers Trust, this new initiative shows that the Co-operative places carer welfare at both the heart of its business and the communities that it works in.”

During 2013, The Co-operative’s partnership with Carers Trust will work to transform the lives of the UK’s young adult carers – people in communities who are more than twice as likely not to be in education, employment or training1 and, many of which, have not taken a break of two days or more since they started caring2 .

The Co-operative’s businesses include Food, Financial Services, Funeralcare and Pharmacy and, its 100,000 employees will be putting the fun into fundraising to raise £5million for Carers Trust. For more information visit

Additional Information:

1 – Young adult carers aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) ‘Against the Odds’, Audit Commission, p19, July 2010.

2 – 42 per cent of carers have not taken a break of more than two days since they started looking after the main person they care for. Statistic from the Survey of Carers in Households in England (produced by the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care), 2011.

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and one of Britain’s largest farming operations. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies over 50 commitments in these areas. The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 100,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at

Carers Trust is the UK’s largest charity for carers. With local Network Partners we work to improve support, services and recognition for carers in communities across the UK. We offer practical help, both in and outside the home, desperately needed breaks, information and advice. Together with Network Partners we work as one organisation united by a shared vision for carers. Our vision is of a world where the role and contribution of unpaid carers is recognised and they have access to the quality support and services they need to live their own lives. To find your nearest Carers Trust Network Partner call 0844 800 4361 or visit our website

Scotland: The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland (part of Carers Trust) is the largest provider of comprehensive carers support services in Scotland, reaching more than 52,000 adult carers and more than 4,300 young carers from all groups and communities through a unique network of 27 carers’ centres and 23 young carers’ services throughout Scotland. To find your nearest carers’ centre, call 0141 221 5066.  The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland also helps thousands more through interactive websites and

Contact Information:

Andrew Torr
The Co-operative Group Press Office
Tel: 07702 505551