Flexible working must be extended to middle-aged carers

Middle-aged women need flexible working if they are not to give up on career progression to care for elderly or sick relatives and teenage children, according to a study.

The research is part of an EU project on women’s careers and family-friendly policies carried out by psychologist Terri Apter, senior tutor at Newnham College, Cambridge.

It found that women, aged between 50 and retirement, felt they were missing out on flexible working rights that have recently become available to the parents of young children.

These women are classified as the pivot generation as they have to manage their time between care for an elderly parent or other relative, looking after their teenage or adult children and even helping care for grandchildren.

In the future, care for the elderly will become an even more pressing issue as the UK’s population ages. The research shows that the number of people aged 80 and over will increase from 2.4 million in 2000 to 3.5 million in 2025.

Apter said the government needs to give serious consideration to how to manage care for the elderly if women are to have improved career opportunities across their working lives and balance this with their family responsibilities.

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