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The London School of Economics and Political Science, Finalist 2014, The Centrica & Carers UK Best for Carers and Eldercare Award

The London School of Economics (LSE) aims to sustain its strong track record as a diverse, fair and flexible employer that attracts and retains the best employees and demonstrates its support for them throughout their working life. As part of this it is addressing what it describes as the ‘iceberg’ of caring for adults by encouraging greater awareness and openness at work, and providing advice and support for employees and their managers.

A number of policies and practices are in place to help carers. For example, account is taken of leave (and reduction in working hours, if applicable) to care for others in terms of career development and work output. Any academic who has been absent for more than 26 weeks gets a teaching-free term on full pay to catch up on research, and the clock is stopped for research purposes while he or she is away. Paid leave may be given when a close relative is terminally ill or when, in the absence of other nursing arrangements, members of staff are responsible for care. The total amount of leave should not normally be more than 15 working days. Employees have the opportunity to attend the regularly held ‘Balancing Work and Being the Carer of an Adult’ course. Places are also offered to partners of employees, even if they do not work for the LSE. Attendees are given a workbook at the event which is useful for subsequent referral.

Employees also have access to one-to-one advice from HR and a dedicated webpage that provides information for carers including: their rights in the workplace (on flexible working, time off for emergencies and parental leave); staff counselling; the Employers for Carers’ Distance Caring Toolkit; the Employer’s Guide to Supporting Working Carers, and to external support web-links. A copy of the Macmillan ‘The Essential Work and Cancer Toolkit’ is also available to those experiencing cancer either directly or indirectly. Macmillan facilitated a workshop for HR partners and other HR professionals that addressed some of the challenges faced by people at work who are living with or caring for someone with cancer.

In addition, managers are trained and given practical advice (webinars, a toolkit and one-to-one discussions with their HR partners) on how flexible working can work and be good for work engagement and business.

The LSE also runs a successful Carers Network. The network meets to offer mutual support and exchange ideas on how to raise awareness and increase support for carers. To date, the ideas of the network have resulted in the setting-up of a Yammer group and action to support those caring for adults with dementia.

The importance of supporting employees who are carers is demonstrated by the Single Equality Scheme Action Plan, which specifies that the LSE monitors the application and take-up of flexible working (with special reference to data on carers) to ensure consistent family-friendly practices across the School. The LSE’s attention to carers is already bearing fruit, evidenced by the increase in submissions for reductions in research outputs, which it feels demonstrates that more academic employees are increasingly open, and their managers more supportive, about caring for adults