Government Considering Paid Leave for Working Carers

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The Government is exploring the possibility of five days’ statutory paid leave being introduced for employees who are also carers. They may have responsibility for elderly relatives or for relatives with a disability.

One out of every nine workers in the UK currently has caring responsibility and over one-third of them are in full-time employment. It is thought that one in six carers have had to give up their employment at some point to focus on their responsibilities as a carer and almost three million have had to reduce their working hours.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee have recommended that five days’ paid statutory leave be introduced to work along the lines of the existing statutory leave system. The Government have acknowledged that a large number of carers have to drop out of the labour market because of the challenges they face in juggling their caring responsibilities with work and have set up an official working group including representatives from various government departments to explore the implications of workers who have caring responsibilities being offered additional statutory rights.

Other areas being explored include the opportunity to work flexibly by widening the Flexible Working Regulations. There is a suggestion that all jobs must be advertised from day one as flexible unless there is a robust business reason not to. This puts the emphasis on the employer offering flexible working as opposed to the employee being required to request flexible working.

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