Today, we are all more likely than ever to be balancing busy working lives with caring for those who depend on us.

Over the last twelve months, we have seen the highest number of working families since records began almost two decades ago, with modern families becoming increasingly more diverse, complex, and geographically dispersed across the UK and abroad. In addition, families are now often multi-generational and many are part of the colloquially named “sandwich generation”, responsible for caring for both children and elderly parents.

In the UK today, there are:

  • 6.5 million Carers
  • 1 in 9 employees in any workforce already caring for someone who is ill, frail or has a disability

Care is entering a new chapter, and one thing is certain – balancing work and family life continues to be an ongoing challenge for many families. Helping families and employers to find the right kind of support has therefore never been more important.

It’s encouraging to see the direction of government policies in this area, driven towards helping families to balance their responsibilities. In recent years, several new government reforms have been launched to help working families carefully balance work and personal commitments, and to access a variety of high-quality, dependable care. This includes the right to request flexible working, the announcement of a new tax-free Childcare Payments Bill, and the appointment of the House of Lords Select Committee on Affordable Childcare. This month, we will also observe how employees and employers react to the introduction of Shared Parental Leave and the new Care Act.

As a successful provider of work-life solutions for over 25 years, Bright Horizons are familiar with the challenges faced by employers and working families. However, we wanted to ‘dig deeper’ and joined forces with Working Families, a leading work-life balance organisation, to gather research from over 1000 respondents and further understand the real daily pressure points and where the long-term challenges lie.

The 2015 Modern Families Index has provided sound research to stimulate debate between all parties; employers, working families and government itself.

The report highlights that it’s absolutely crucial childcare remains at the forefront for organisations and government.

Having accessible, affordable, quality childcare can be the difference between being able to be in employment and have peace of mind while knowing your children are happily learning and playing in a safe environment.
As the population ages, care responsibilities now often extend beyond children to include vulnerable adults and the elderly too, and the reality of caring can be seen.

For care arrangements to work, childcare and also elderly and back-up care, which is fit for purpose, is required.
Recognising the caring responsibilities of employees and putting policies and measures in place provides tangible benefits for organisations, in addition to building a positive corporate culture.
As we enter a new chapter for caring, driven by generational demographic change, workplace cultures must now understand and reflect the caring responsibilities and challenges of modern family life.