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Flexible Working: Carers

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many people have applied to their employer for flexible working arrangements to assist them with their caring responsibilities in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (317336)

The new employment rights introduced in April 2003 gave parents of children under six and disabled children under 18 the right to request flexible working; this was extended to carers in April 2007 and parents of children aged 16 and under in April 2009. There are no requirements for either employers or employees to notify the department when requests are made to work flexibly. The department does not have the requested information for the past 12 months, nor does the department have evidence on the number of requests accepted or rejected by carers since 2007.

However, the department conducts periodic sample surveys to estimate the proportions of employees making requests to change their regular working hours and the proportion of such requests accepted or rejected. The most recent employee survey (Third Work Life Balance Employees' Survey) was conducted in 2006, before the implementation of the extension of the right to request to carers. Table 1 presents the findings from the 2006 Survey.

Employees with parental responsibilities (defined as having dependent children aged under 19): in 2006, 20 per cent. of working parents (employees with dependent children undue nine years old) had made a request to change their regular working pattern during the previous two years, and 80% of requests had been accepted.

Employees with adult caring responsibilities (defined as looking after sick, disabled or elderly adults): in 2006, 26 per cent. of employees with adult caring responsibilities had made a request to change their working pattern, with 79 per cent. of requests accepted (11 per cent. rejected).

Table 1: Request made to employer to change how they work at some point over previous two years, employees; Outcome of request by parental status and adult caring responsibilities


Request made to change how regularly worked during the previous two years1

Requests accepted by employer2 (fully and partially)

Request declined by employer3

All employees




Employees with dependent children4




Adult carers5 (employees)




1 Over the last two years, have you approached your current employer to make a request to change how you regularly work for a sustained period of time

2 Was your request to change the way you regularly work agreed to?

3 Not all requests had an outcome by the time of the survey

4 Parental status is defined in the survey as having dependent children aged 18 or less;' Adult carers are defined as people who look after adults who are sick, disabled or elderly, whether they live with the carer or not


Third Work-Life Balance Survey 2006. ( 2,081 employees across Great Britain)