How offering will writing as an employee benefit can ease caring pressures
Millions of households around the country are responsible for the financial, physical, and/or emotional needs of one or more older relative, with 1.3 million people caring for older relatives and children at the same time, according to the Office for National Statistics.
These responsibilities can be a significant source of stress as well as a drain on household finances, particularly when their affairs are not in order.
With financial wellbeing at the top of the agenda for employers and employees alike, providing tools to ease the pressures of caring for others is an important piece of the puzzle. Offering access to affordable legal advice is one of the best means of doing this.
“Having access to free or discounted legal advice saves people time and means they have less to worry about, allowing them to be more productive in the workplace,” says Adroit Legal Services director Lisa Lund.
Here, we outline four ways you can use employee benefits to help those caring for elderly relatives, plus three tips on how to maximise the impact they have.
1. Offer flexible working/time off for emergency eldercare
An employee who is responsible for an elderly relative may need time off to deal with an emergency, just as a parent could be called away because their child is ill or has had an accident.
Many modern employee benefits packages include time off for emergency eldercare as well as emergency childcare as a result. Just like parents, carers will also generally appreciate the flexibility to organise their working days around their relatives’ needs.
2. Encourage use of Lasting Power of Attorney
Many people think their next of kin will be able to make decisions about their health and finances if they lose mental capacity. But to do that, they need to be named in a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
There are 2 types of LPA: one that deals with financial affairs and one that covers health and welfare decisions. Having one of each can save a lot of time and heartache. But by the time they are needed, it’s usually too late to set them up.
“You can lose capacity quite suddenly, for example if you have a stroke, so I would actually recommend LPAs for everyone over 40 years of age,” Lund adds.
3. Provide information on external services/benefits
Many people miss out on the benefits and support available to carers because they don’t know what is available.
Clear, concise information about benefits such as Attendance Allowance (to be claimed by or on behalf of the person needing the care) could therefore make a big difference to some employees’ immediate financial situation.
Charities such as Age UK can also be a great source of support and advice.
4. Promote will writing
Nobody wants to think about a world in which they no longer exist. But having a will is incredibly important – especially for those left behind.
Your children, for example, could end up in care unless you have a will naming their chosen guardians should the worst happen.
If you’re caring for an older relative, ensuring their estate planning is in order is also vital to avoid family conflicts, which sadly often follow bereavements where circumstances are left unclear. If he or she has not updated their will for some time, it is also a good idea to encourage them to review it while they can, particularly if their financial or personal circumstances have changed.
“Having a will is very important but having the right will is vital if your wishes are to be followed,” Lund says. “It’s important to update and review your will throughout life’s journey.”
3 tips for boosting take up
These benefits could be life changing for some, but that doesn’t mean they will attract engagement – unless you communicate them in the right way.
Ways to do this include:
1. Develop a targeted communications strategy that ensures jargon-free information about these benefits is reaching colleagues in need.
2. Use your reward hub to provide information and solutions, and utilise a variety of approaches to share the message; while webinars work well for desk-based employees, on-site events will be a better fit for some businesses.
3. Offer access to free/discounted legal services and support from not-for-profit organisations such as Age UK and the National Bereavement Service.
In partnership with Equiniti
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