Charity Carers UK is urging employers to extend the right to request flexible working to all carers in their workforce after the government clarified the definition used in the Work and Families Act.
The legislation, due to come into force in April 2007, extends the right to request flexible working to carers. Currently, only parents of children up to the age of six (and those with disabled children up to 18) have the right.
But now married partners, near relatives and those of neither category but living at the same address as the person being cared for, will have the right to request flexible working. An estimated 2.6 million carers will benefit from the new law.
Carers UK had called on the government to include all types of carers in the legislation, and said that under the latest definition, some people would still lose out.
“However, we hope that employers will take the opportunity to cover all carers in their policies,” said Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK.
Almost three million carers currently combine caring with paid work. In the future, more people will face this dual responsibility as demographic changes and a rise in the number of disabled people will mean that an extra three million carers will be needed over the next 30 years.
Personnel Today is campaigning to introduce tax breaks for staff with caring responsibilities. Conservative MP Robert Spink has agreed to table an Early Day Motion, enabling MPs to put on record their opinion on the subject and canvass support for it.
Sign up to the tax breaks for carers campaign.