Managing caring alongside work

carer and elderly lady looking at iPad

Juggling work and caring can be very challenging. It’s important to find out about your rights and about any support that is available.

Today, 30th November, is Carers Rights Day. Each year Carers UK work alongside other organisations to raise awareness and provide carers with information about their rights and let them know where to go for help and support.

Here we detail your rights as a carer when it comes to work.

It is your choice whether or not to tell your employer about your caring role.

There might be extra support for carers in your workplace; even if you haven’t told your employer about your caring role, it would still be worth finding out what extra support, if any, might be available.

Your rights at 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.

The following information is about statutory rights. However, it is always worth checking your contract of employment, staff handbook or letter of appointment to see if you have any contractual rights on top of your statutory rights.

All employees have the right to request flexible working after they have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks (six months), as long as they haven’t already made a flexible working request within the last 12 months. Employers can only refuse requests for certain specified reasons.

Examples of flexible working include:

  • Home working.
  • Part-time working.
  • Term-time working.
  • Flexitime.
  • Working compressed hours.
  • Job sharing.
  • Shift work.

The Equality Act 2010 provides carers with protection from some forms of discrimination. For example, employers and providers of goods and services must not treat carers less favourably than those without caring responsibilities.

All employees have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency or an unforeseen matter involving a dependent (which includes your partner, child or parent, or someone living with you as part of your family – others who rely on you for help in an emergency may also qualify). The time off is unpaid unless your employer is willing to give paid time off as a contractual right.

Juggling your role as carer alongside work is just one of the many challenges carers unfortunately face. You can find further information in our ‘Support for Carers’ section, including what benefits are available, respite options and how to get a carers assessment. A wealth of additional resource can be found at Carers UK.