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Fact sheet

Right to request flexible working

Flexible working helps carers to manage work, alongside their caring responsibilities. Since April 2007 carers have had the right to request changes to their working patterns to better manage their caring, but employers are not legally bound to accept the request so it is crucial to have suggestions of how meeting the request makes sense for the business.

Carers have had the right to request flexible working if they have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date they make an application and they are:

  • A parent with one or more children under 6, or disabled children under 18, or
  • A carer who is, or expects to be, caring for a spouse, a partner who they live with, a civil partner or a relative, or
  • A carer who lives at the same address as an adult in need of care.

'Relative' includes parents, parents-in-law, an adult child, an adopted adult child, siblings (including those who are in-laws), uncles, aunts or grandparents and step-relatives.

The law gives carers the right to make one application a year, but they may find an employer sympathetic if circumstances change and they need to make a further application.

Flexible working could include flexible starting and finishing hours, compressed working hours, annualised working hours, term-time working, job sharing, part time working, homeworking or teleworking. While employers are not legally bound to accept the request, any request must be taken seriously and can only be rejected for sound business reasons.

More information on flexible working is available on Carers UK's website