Work and Families Act 2006 - Carers Rights
9 November 2006
Carers across the UK now have the the right to request flexible working.
After consulting various carers groups and business organisations, Employment Relations Minister Jim Fitzpatrick announced the definition of carer that will be used for the right to request.
Jim Fitzpatrick said:
"The Government understands how difficult it can be for people to balance their work with caring for someone who is sick or disabled. We want to make sure that as many carers as possible have the right to request flexible working while at the same time not placing an unnecessary burden on business. We consulted with business, unions and carer's groups about the definition of which carers will be covered by the legislation. We have decided to go with the option that best balances the views of these groups and will cover around 80% of carers."
The definition of Carer is an employee who is or expects to be caring for an adult who:
- is married to, or the partner or civil partner of the employee; or
- is a near relative of the employee; or
- falls into neither category but lives at the same address as the employee.
The "near relative" definition includes parents, parent-in-law, adult child, adopted adult child, siblings (including those who are in-laws), uncles, aunts or grandparents and step-relatives.
The right to request flexible working for carers came into effect on the 6 April 2007. This was part of a package of family friendly measures introduced in the Work and Families Act 2006. These include:
- Nine months Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Maternity Allowance from April 2007 with the ambition to increase this to a year's paid leave by the end of the 2008. It is estimated that about 400,000 mothers per year will benefit from this;
- A new right to an additional period of paternity leave for fathers, introduced alongside the extension of Statutory Maternity Pay, Adoption Pay and Maternity Allowance to 12 months. It is estimated that between 240,000 and 280,000 fathers will benefit from this;
- The introduction of 'Keeping in Touch' days so that where employees and employers agree, a women on maternity leave can go into work for a few days, without losing her right to maternity leave or a week's statutory pay.
Under the new Work and Families legislation businesses will benefit from:
- Measures to help them better manage the administration of Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay;
- A two month notice period for women changing their return to work dates from maternity leave. This will allow employees and employers to plan more effectively for return to work;
- Clarity that employers can make reasonable contact with their employees on maternity leave to help them with planning and easing the mother's return to work.