The case for five day’s statutory paid leave for carers is being discussed by the government. This is good news for everyone, including employees and employers.
The government has set up a working group comprised of representatives from various departments and the Treasury to look into the implications of giving carers certain employment rights.
Around one in nine UK workers find themselves juggling caring responsibilities with paid work and a third of working age carers hold down full time jobs. One in six carers had at some point given up their jobs in favour of dedicating their time to their caring duties, and almost three million reduced their working hours to allow sufficient time for caring responsibilities. These are significant figures.
Recommendation to revise the Flexible Working Regulations
It has been recommended that the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 should be revised so that the right to flexible working is in place starting from an employee’s first day in the job. This right currently only applies to those with 26 weeks’ of continuous employment.
The government has set up a taskforce to investigate how flexible working could be promoted, taking into consideration the Prime Minister’s call for businesses to advertise all jobs as flexible from the outset, unless genuine commercial reasons exist not to. This would mean a shift of responsibility from the employee requesting flexible working, to the business offering it as standard.
Raman Sankaran is chief commercial officer at health insurance provider Simplyhealth. He has said that there is a strong business, economic and social imperative to get support for working carers right.
‘The government has identified the need to increase the status of carers, sharing its vision for them to receive the same recognition in the workforce as parents.
However, for any attempt to raise awareness of the challenges facing working carers to initiate a permanent change in workplace culture, this must be underpinned by the introduction of practical measures and working practices that can help alleviate the pressures they face on a daily basis,’ he said.
As an employer, you may be waiting with anticipation to learn whether there will be any new legislation introduced covering flexible working for carers. You may however decide that your workers are too valuable to you to wait, and perhaps consider offering flexibility to those members of staff who have caring responsibilities. It is of course currently up to you, but in the name of goodwill and staff morale, it may be something to think about. You could always discuss it with your local bookkeepers if you have any concerns.