Flexible working fails to take off due to lack of awareness

Adult carers are still largely unaware they have a right to request flexible working, a parliamentary report of MPs has revealed.

Knowledge of the law among employers is also low, according to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Valuing and Supporting Carers inquiry.

The Work and Families Act 2006 extended the right to request flexible working to employees who care for an adult. The right was first introduced in 2003 for parents with children under six or disabled children.

The government is currently consulting on extending the law to include parents with children under 16. But the committee of MPs described uptake of flexible employment as limited. Many people did not know about the right or were unaware they fell under the carer category, they said.

Some feared flexible working requests would be held against them by employers, a concern echoed by research earlier this year that found many employees felt operating remotely or at reduced hours meant being excluded from promotion opportunities.

The report welcomed plans for a government awareness-raising campaign.

The Age and Employment Network, which represents the older workforce, called for the government to provide much greater support for those who want to get back to, and remain, in work.

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