At present the right to flexible working applies only to parents
with children under the age of 6 or disabled children under the age of
18. However, the Government has voiced its intention to extend the
right to request flexible working to carers by April 2007.
It is understood that flexible working arrangements are welcomed by
most employers and seen as a means of staff motivation and retention.
In fact, it is likely that many employers already listen to and grant
requests to carers for flexible working. However, employers in small
businesses may well see Government proposals as an additional burden.
The Government has, as yet, not provided a definition of "carer" for
the purposes of the right. It remains to be seen whether the definition
will include a minimum number of hours caring or whether it will
include caring for friends or neighbours or be restricted to caring for
family. The Government intends to publish draft Regulations with
possible definitions at the beginning of next year.