A new law means millions of workers now have the right to ask their employers to work flexible hours for any reason
Changes to employment law giving everyone the right to request flexible working hours are crucial for almost 100,000 carers, according to a UK charity.
From this week any staff member who has worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks will be able to request flexibility, for any reason.
Now that all workers will have this right, we hope that workplace culture will grow even more accepting of staff requesting flexibility
Prior to the change, only those who have children or caring responsibilities for older or disabled family members had the right to request flexible working.
Carers UK welcomed the change saying it meant people with responsibility for those not related to them such as friends and neighbours can now apply for more suitable working hours.
Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, which co-ordinates business forum Employers for Carers, said: “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.”
Herklots added that currently the UK has 6.5 million carers with around three million in employment, many of whom struggle to juggle work with caring and have to give up their job, costing the economy £1.3 billion per year in costs including recruiting and training new staff.
A guide for employers and employees has been published to help get the most out of the changes by workplace expert The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).
It includes guidance on how employees can make a request for flexible hours and how employees can handle it fairly, avoiding discrimination.
Acas Chair Brendan Barber said: "Many employers recognise that they can retain talented staff by offering a flexible approach to work and a healthy work life balance can help business success and growth.
"Our new guide has practical examples to help businesses or employers manage flexible working requests in a reasonable way and avoid any pitfalls.
"There are many types of flexible working such as part-time working, flexitime, job sharing, shift working and homeworking.”