People who care for elderly or disabled relatives to have flexible work rights

Trade and industry secretary Alan Johnson has announced plans to give flexible working rights to people caring for elderly relatives and disabled people.

The proposals would mean they are able to ask to work part-time, change their hours or do their jobs from home –  as are the parents of young children.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Johnson said: “It is important for society. Carers need help. There would be a cost. But if we do it the right way, I think business will accept it.”

The granting of similar rights to parents had worked tremendously well, he said, with nine out of 10 requests being met by the employer and only a handful of cases going to employment tribunal.

The proposals were initially announced in the Queen’s Speech and a consultation is expected to conclude in August.

According to the charity Carers UK more than three million adults juggle a caring responsibility with employment, and almost two-thirds of them believing their career prospects have been affected.

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