Employers will today (7 February) be urged to get ready to implement the new right to request flexible working for carers, which comes into effect from 6 April.
The new measure could act as a catalyst for “a new deal for carers who work”, according to Stephen Burke, chief executive of charity Counsel and Care.
Speaking at a conference in London, Burke will say that flexible working is crucial to helping carers of the elderly and sick and disabled adults manage the demands on their time. He will call for pressure to be put on employers and the government to do more as part of a new deal for carers who work including:
Auditing staff to identify and understand their caring responsibilities and needs.
Providing access to information and advice about support for carers.
Helping carers access emergency care when their normal arrangements break down.
Extending tax exemptions on childcare vouchers to care vouchers for working carers.
“With our ageing population and later retirement, there are a growing number of carers in the workforce,” Burke will say.
“Many of these are part of the ‘sandwich generation’ – middle aged women working full- or part-time, supporting their children through education and caring for their own parents. In many workplaces carers and their needs are invisible.
“The right to request flexible working will be a trigger for employers to do more to recognise the needs of carers and provide extra support for these staff.”
Counsel and Care has started a petition on the No 10 website, urging the prime minister to introduce tax exemptions for care vouchers to support carers who work.
Tax breaks could help workers with care responsibilities pay for extra care and support services for their older and/or disabled relatives. A similar scheme already exists to help workers with childcare costs through tax breaks on vouchers.
The petition can be signed online.