Workers under pressure from family life demands

Almost a quarter of Scots have had to juggle their working hours to care for a family member.
Almost a quarter of Scots have had to juggle their working hours to care for a family member.
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Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of Scottish employees have taken time off work or worked irregular hours to care for a family member, according to new research.

Although 33 per cent have benefited from flexible working to do so, almost two-fifths (39 per cent) have used their annual holiday allowance and a further 10 per cent have taken sick leave.

According to the study, carried out by Willis PMI Group, London has the highest proportion of workers affected by caring responsibilities in the UK with 38 per cent of employees taking time off, while just 16 per cent in the North West did so.

“Although employees have a legal right to take time off to deal with emergencies involving dependents, those having to juggle work with ongoing caring responsibilities can feel under considerable pressure and may even be forced to give up work1,” said Mike Blake, Willis PMI Group director.

“There is a strong business case for offering flexible working options, with such provisions improving productivity and cutting costs by reducing staff turnover and absenteeism.”

Legislation introduced last year has given all employees with 26 weeks of service the right to request flexible working. The Willis PMI Group study, however, found that just 28 per cent of workers in Scotland are aware of this entitlement, the lowest in the UK and considerably lower than the national average (42 per cent).

Furthermore, only 44 per cent believe their employer would accept a request for flexible working in any case to help them manage their work-life balance.

“Family life demands can be extremely challenging and faced with an ageing population, eldercare responsibilities are set to rise,” added Mr Blake. “The workplace will need to keep pace to ensure the health, wellbeing and motivation of staff is not compromised.”