North East Post
A Voice of the North
4:00 AM 23rd September 2021

Response To Government Proposals For Flexible Working & Unpaid Leave For Carers

The Government will be setting out new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement for every employee in Britain.

It will also introduce a day one right to one-week’s unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:“With our ageing population and people working for longer, millions of people in the UK are now juggling their job with caring for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill – it is fast becoming one of the most pressing employment issues of our time.

“It is an incredibly demanding balancing act and without support from employers can be too much to manage. Carers UK’s own research shows that pre-pandemic, every single day more than 600 people across the UK were giving up work to care for a loved one – with a devastating impact on their personal finances and at a huge cost to the wider UK economy. Businesses continue to lose some of their most skilled and experienced employees.

“Giving employees with caring responsibilities a legal right to unpaid carer’s leave and the ability to request flexible working from day one of starting their job is an important step forward for UK workers and could make a difference to millions – enabling carers to support their relatives whilst staying in work, maintaining social connections and improving their financial stability.

“Good quality care and support services are also a key condition for many people’s employment so it’s more important than ever that the Government’s white paper delivers the social care reform that families desperately need.”

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: “Businesses have learnt a huge amount about the pros and cons of flexible working during the pandemic, with many firms expecting to receive more formal and informal requests in the future. Employers support giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one in the job.

“Companies want to work with the Government to ensure that they can say ‘no’ when they have properly considered requests but for good reason can’t accept them.”

Dr Roger Barker
Dr Roger Barker
Dr Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “The pandemic has meant that the way that businesses are operating is developing and changing at a more rapid pace than ever before.

“Labour shortages mean that employers recognise that they need to stay competitive in the labour market and support their employees through offering flexibility. For example, after 18 months of mixed experiences with remote working, many business leaders are taking a hybrid stance into the future. Our research suggests that 63% of businesses intend to shift towards between one and four days of remote working per week.

“Different organisations have different needs, and they should be allowed to work with their employees to find the best solutions. We think it right that conversations around flexible working take place from the outset, and we welcome the opportunity that this consultation provides to reflect on what we have learnt from the pandemic.”