Support in your workplace
You may be balancing your caring role with paid employment and you are likely to need flexible support to continue with these roles. It is important to know your rights. The Carers UK website gives information on carers and work: https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/work-and-career.
Your rights in work come from two sources:
- the law gives you ‘statutory rights’ which everyone has
- your contract of employment gives you ‘contractual rights’ which can be more generous than statutory rights. It is worth finding out about your company’s policies and procedures. Also, some organisations may offer additional flexibility during the coronavirus pandemic. Furloughing rules can apply to carers.
These rights include:
Time off for emergencies
- As a carer, you may take 'reasonable' time off to deal with an emergency relating to someone who is dependent on you, such as a parent, child or partner
- An emergency could be an unexpected breakdown in existing care arrangements, illness, an accident, or a bereavement
- You can only take off the time you need to deal with the emergency or arrange other care
- You have to take this time off as unpaid leave unless your contract of employment allows for paid dependency leave
There is a new legal entitlement for unpaid carers to a week of flexible unpaid leave a year, for employees who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care need. In law, this is called the Carers Leave Act and came into effect in May 2023.
- You can request flexible working, if you have been employed at the same organisations continuously for 6 months (26 weeks) as long as you haven’t already made a flexible working request within the last 12 months
- You need to put your request in writing and you should include the working pattern change you are requesting, how it may affect the business and how this can be lessened
- You could change the hours you work, work from home or change the times you are at work
- The law says your employer must consider the request. You do not automatically have the right to flexible working, but your employer should only refuse if there is a clear business reason to refuse
- If you are refused flexible working, you can appeal against the decision
Protection from discrimination
Under the Equality Act 2010, if you are looking after someone who is elderly or disabled, you are protected against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities.