Workers caring for sick relatives could receive paid leave

Workers caring for sick relatives will be entitled to claim paid leave under plans being considered by women’s minister Harriet Harman.

The right to request flexible working would also be extended to all parents, and those employees wishing to care for the elderly, it has emerged.

The proposals are put forward in a report, Women, the ‘sandwich generation’ and the modern family, by left-wing think tank IPPR. They were launched yesterday at an event in London during which Harman spoke about the ‘sandwich generation’ – those who are caring for dependent children and dependent adults at the same time.

A Government Equalities Office (GEO) spokesman told Personnel Today the government was considering the proposals. He said: “There is nothing concrete yet but these are ideas that our policy people are looking at.”

When asked whether the government wants to see the right to request flexible working extended to all parents, the spokesman said: “Yes we do.”

The IPPR said in a briefing about the report: “As four-generation families are becoming more common and many more of us are becoming carers, innovative policy reform is needed if we are going to meet the future demand for care.”

The plans are expected to be published in a GEO Green Paper next year, according to reports.

More than 550,000 working women are forced to look after ill children and grandparents, the IPPR conference heard yesterday.

There are nearly six million unpaid carers in the UK – 12% of the adult population. One in six people with caring responsibilities give up or cut back work to care and face a significant drop in income, according to the charity Carers UK.

Flexible working rights were extended to parents with children aged 16 or under in April this year.

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