Working Carers

1 in 9 workers will combine working with caring for a family member, partner, friend or neighbour. Juggling the demands of caring for someone and work can be challenging.

Something which could help make things easier is flexible working. Examples of flexible working include: flexi-time, home working, job sharing, part-time and compressed hours.

Carers have the right to request flexible working and employers have a duty to consider their request. This is part of a package of family friendly measures introduced in the Work and Families Act 2006. The right applies to carers who have worked for their employer continuously for 26 weeks.

The definition of 'carer' covered by this legislation is an employee who is or expects to be caring for an adult who is one of the following:

  • Is a spouse, partner, or civil partner (who the employee lives with);
  • Is a relative of the employee;
  • Falls into neither category but lives at the same address as the employee.

The ‘relative' definition includes parents, parent-in-law, adult child, adopted adult child, siblings (including those who are in-laws), uncles, aunts or grandparents and step-relatives.

Some employers also offer unpaid leave or a career break to help carers through difficult times.

It is up to you whether or not you tell your employer about your caring responsibilities. However caring for a disabled person is often unpredictable and care arrangements can be complex, so talking to your manager about your concerns and commitments may be helpful.

Other Legal Rights at Work

The Employment Relations Act introduced the following leave entitlements which benefit carers.

Time off for Emergencies

As a carer, you may take 'reasonable' time off work to deal with an emergency relating to someone you care for.

An emergency could be:

  • An unexpected illness.
  • An accident.
  • A breakdown in care arrangements.
  • A bereavement.
  • If you have to deal with an incident involving a child during school hours.

You can only take off the time you need to deal with the emergency or arrange other care. Whether the leave is paid or unpaid will depend on your contract of employment. You should check with your manager or personnel department.

Parental Leave

If you are a parent who has been working for the same employer for a year, you may take up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave to care for your child aged under 5, or under 16 if your child is entitled to Disability Living Allowance for Children or between 16- 18 years of age if your child is entitled to Personal Independence Payment.

You can take the leave in blocks of one week up to a maximum of 4 weeks’ leave in a year (for each child). If the leave is to care for a disabled child, you can take the leave as a day or multiples of a day, again up to 4 weeks in a year.

You can take the leave up until your child’s fifth birthday, or if your child is disabled entitled to Disability Living Allowance for Children or Personal Independence Payment, until their eighteenth birthday. You must arrange it in advance with your employer.

Carers UK has produced a help and advice guide for Carers, for more information go to Carers Rights Guide – looking after someone.

Other support to help you keep working

As a carer providing regular and substantial care, you are entitled to have a carer’s assessment. This will take into account your needs (eg if you are a working carer) and the needs of the person you care for. The carer’s assessment may mean:

  • More direct support for the person you care for, such as support at home.
  • Support to participate in activities during the day.
  • Direct payments so that the person you care for can buy their own support.
  • Information about organisations or groups that support carers.

If you are thinking about giving up work, ask for a carer’s assessment or re-assessment if you have already had one. If your job is seriously at risk because of the pressures of caring, the council will need to look at what help it can provide to enable you to continue working.

To find out more about how to get a carers assessment please visit the area of our website which you live in.