Give carers flexitime, says Hunt
Employers should let workers who care for elderly relatives choose what hours they work, the Health Secretary has said.
Jeremy Hunt urged bosses to help hundreds of thousands of people who balance work and care commitments by offering them flexible hours, the Daily Telegraph reported.
He said a change of attitude towards working carers was needed to face up to the issues posed by Britain's rapidly ageing population and an impending "dementia time bomb".
And with the number of people caring for loved ones who suffer dementia set to increase by a quarter up to 850,000, Mr Hunt stressed that the economy would be hurt if they were forced to give up work.
He said: "A lot of employers have embraced flexible working policies, but some are simply not prepared for the scale of the dementia time bomb. None of us can afford to ignore this problem. Too many people feel unable to combine caring for a family member with working - this will only get worse as we face the consequences of a dementia time bomb."
The Health Secretary was speaking ahead of the publication next week of a report by the Department of Health, charity Carers UK and Employers for Carers which will claim £1.3 billion in public money could be saved each year through flexibility.
It comes after the 2011 census showed that there are about 6.5 million people in Britain with caring responsibilities, an increase of 10% over a decade.
Carers UK claims that two million of those people have left work entirely to care, with another three million reducing their working hours.
Legislation introduced by Labour already allows parents with young children and those who look after sick, frail or disabled relatives to request special working arrangements.
That includes working flexible hours, job sharing, part time work and the chance to concentrate work into certain times of the year or days of the week.