Flexible working and caring


how flexible working helps staff with caring responsibilities


This section sets out the ways in which flexible working can support to better balance their roles with caring responsibilities outside work. Please speak with your HR Partner or Adviser if you are unsure about any of the benefits set out here. 

Until quite recently, the statutory right to request flexible working only applied to staff with parental responsibility for children up to 16 or disabled children under 18, or carers of adults. These days, anyone can ask to work flexibly – however, many requests are still motivated by a desire to balance work with outside caring responsibilities.


Flexible working and maternity leave

By law, all employees have the right to return to work following maternity leave. Flexible working is one of the key ways of supporting a successful return by enabling the returning employee to balance their work role with their new caring responsibilities. Phased returns to work are common, where the employee works a pattern of reduced hours that steadily increase over time – this allows the employee to progressively get used to the work environment again after their time away. These arrangements are typically agreed between the employee and manager some time before the employee’s scheduled return date. The School’s Maternity Policy provides more detail about the timing of a return to work following maternity leave and the various factors that should be taken into account.


Flexible working and other types of family leave

The connection between flexible working and maternity leave is an established one. More recently, employees are increasingly combining flexible working with other types of family leave, especially shared parental leave. The Shared Parental Leave Policy sets out how this benefit can support both partners to manage their working hours during their child’s first year of life, as well as how a non-standard work pattern can be extended through flexible working.


Flexible working and carers

The School is positive about supporting all employees who have caring responsibilities, including employees who provide unpaid support to family or friends – this could be caring for a relative, partner or friend. 

It is appreciated that the type of support offered by carers, as well as the stages of caring, can be very different depending on the circumstances. A person may acquire caring responsibilities suddenly, they may need to provide intermittent care, or they may need to increase their care on an incremental basis. The School’s approach to supporting carers in the workplace is therefore intended to be adaptable, and flexible working is one of a number of options available to employees. Further information can be found in the School’s Policy on the Support for Carers.

As of 2019, the School is a member of Carers UK, the UK’s only national membership charity for carers. This is just one of the ways in which support for carers is being developed across the School.


Interested in finding out more?

Within the School’s staff networks, the Parents’ and Carers’ Network provide networking opportunities for like-minded parents and carers, organise lunchtime events, support a peer-to-peer mentoring scheme, and much more.

Beyond the School, the Working Families website is an excellent resource for working parents and carers, including how flexible working can contribute towards a better work-life balance.