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The Government has confirmed plans for new legislation that will give employees the right to ask for flexible working from their first day at a new job, as it formally responds to its consultation on flexible working.

Having campaigned for this right for carers, Carers UK warmly welcomes this plan, which would make a difference to millions of unpaid carers juggling their work with looking after an older, disabled or seriously ill relative or friend.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“Having the ability to work flexibly when also juggling an unpaid caring responsibility makes a big difference to unpaid carers – with our research showing 88% of workers believe flexible working to be most helpful when caring alongside work.

“Being able to request flexible working from day one of starting a job means carers can now better balance their caring responsibilities from the off, giving many carers the opportunity to return to work, stay in work and progress their career – which is so important to many.  

“This, alongside five days of carer’s leave as proposed in the Carer’s Leave Bill, would transform the lives of working carers. We hope to see, in tandem, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill succeed in its passage through Parliament including Committee Stage this week. The latter would allow employees - including working carers - to make two flexible working requests in any 12 month period and remove the unnecessary burden on the employee to explain how the request would affect the employer.

“We see this plan as a real win-win for carers and employers, with improved staff retention, recruitment and productivity.”

Previous research from the charity shows 8% of carers reported being at risk of reducing their hours at work or having to give up work entirely without access to flexible working.

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