New employment rights will normalise flexibility at work – Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK

Carers UK

Heléna Herklots is Chief Executive of Carers UK, which works to improve the lives of carers. Across the UK today there are 6.5 million people caring for loved ones or friends who are older, seriously ill or disabled; half of these carers also juggling full or part time employment. A key part of Heléna’s role is to ensure that the needs of carers are brought to the attention of policy-makers, the statutory, private and voluntary sectors, the media and the general public. 

Heléna Herklots

Heléna Herklots

Changes to employment law came into force on Monday 30th June 2014 that extended rights to request flexible working. These rights were previously confined to specific groups with children or caring responsibilities for older or disabled family members. Now any staff member who has worked with their employer for more than 26 weeks will be able to request flexibility, for any reason.

 Carers UK viewpoint

Some carers have been reluctant to request flexibility at work as they felt they were asking for special treatment. Now that all workers will have this right, we hope that workplace culture will grow even more accepting of staff requesting flexibility for a variety of reasons to balance work with different parts of their lives.

But this change isn’t just good for families. We know the economy loses over £1.3 billion a year as a result of carers being forced to give up work to care, and employers pay the price in lost skills and experience.

Providing support and flexibility for the 1 in 9 employees combining work and caring is good for business – improving productivity and staff retention costs and cutting the costs of recruitment and retraining.

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