Workers are as likely to have caring responsibilities for a partner, relative or friend as they are for children, a CIPD survey has revealed.
One-third of employees have some caring duties, with 20% citing children as the largest responsibility, the study of 2,000 employees by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found. But 12% said looking after relatives was their largest caring responsibility, while 6% named their partner and 2% a friend.
The survey also shows there was little difference between the sexes in their caring responsibilities, with 36% of women citing caring responsibilities and 33% of men.
Ben Willmott, CIPD senior public policy adviser, said: "The survey highlights the challenges many employees have in managing what are often a range of caring responsibilities. The proportion of people having to balance work while caring for their partner or spouse, parents, and other relatives will increase as life expectancy continues to rise and as people work longer to save for retirement."
The CIPD repeated calls for the right to request flexible working to be extended to all employees, rather than just parents, by 2013.
"This is not about employers putting the interests of employees before the business, it is just about them seriously considering whether they can accommodate flexible working requests to recruit and retain a diverse workforce," he said.
Willmott warned that employers which don't provide flexible working options for working parents risk losing valuable employees.
"Employees with other caring responsibilities, such as ageing or sick parents and partners, will increasingly expect the same sort of work-life balance opportunities as working parents," he said.
Of those with childcare responsibilities, 72% of mothers and 43% of fathers have changed how or where they work to accommodate caring for children.
Of these, the survey found:
- 31% of parents have worked flexibly
- 28% have worked shorter hours
- 23% have worked from home
- 16% have changed their jobs to become a more active parent.