United Kingdom

Government proposals to improve support for working carers

June 2018

Working carers could benefit from more support if Government proposals to give employees the right to request flexible working on their first day of employment goes ahead.

The Government’s Work and Pensions Committee’s report makes recommendations in its report ‘Employment support for carers: thirteenth report of session 2017-19’, which included recommendations for a carers’ allowance, changes to employment policies and also how the Government can act as a model employer.

The report, picked up by Employee Benefits magazine, suggested that the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 are amended to ensure that employees can request flexible working when they first start working rather than 6 months into their new job.

Among other proposals set out in the Committee’s report, the introduction of a statutory carers’ leave benefit could mean carers would be able to take five days’ paid leave, similar to the existing statutory leave system.

The report also proposed the government act as a model employer, by inspiring cultural change, making it more acceptable for employees to take benefits for carers when in the workplace.

Emily Holzhausen OBE, director of policy at Carers UK, said: “It’s time that workplaces reflect the reality of how we live now. Government has an important role to play in fostering change by setting an example as a carer-friendly employer, and by putting the necessary rights, entitlements and support systems in place for carers.

“Supporting carers to juggle work and care makes strong economic as well as social sense. The UK economy needs people to continue working for longer, but this also increases the likelihood of caring [while] working. The Committee’s recommendations are both deliverable and desirable, and there is a growing expectation amongst the public that government must do more to support carers.”

Clare Sheridan, Online Benefits Proposition lead at Aon, said: “Working carers are becoming more and more prevalent. The population is ageing, the demand for care is growing, and more people are having to cope with multiple caring responsibilities for children or grandchildren and for older parents or family members, with most having to combine this with work.”

She added that the situation can mean employees deal with stress daily. “Improving the situation for working carers has now become an economic as well as a social issue. Increasing flexibility through employment will relieve pressure of Government funding by allowing these Individuals to continue working rather than drawing benefits,” she said.

Sheridan believes the responsibility falls to the employer in supporting staff. She said: “For some time, it has been recognised that flexible working for parents is necessary, it is time that the same should apply to carers.”


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