This page provides some basic information for working carers.
- Flexible working
- Carers' right to request flexible working
- Other Legal Rights at Work
- Other support to help you keep working
Carers often juggle work with caring. Flexible working (sometimes called work-life balance) can help make this easier. Examples of flexible working include: flexi-time, home working, job sharing, part-time and compressed hours.
All employees, including carers, can request flexible working.
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 maybe helpful. As an employee, you have some statutory rights which your employer must offer, but they may also offer additional support.
Carers and other employees have the right to request flexible working and employers have a duty to consider their request. The right applies if you have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks. Only one application to work flexibly is allowed in one year, so it is important to think carefully about any financial and practical implications. To apply, you should write to your employer asking for the changes you would like and saying why these would help you. You should include an explanation of how you think the proposed change might affect your employer’s business (if at all) and how this might be dealt with. Your manager must follow a defined procedure to consider the request.
If the request is agreed, the new working pattern forms a permanent change to your contract of employment, unless you agree a trial period or time limited change.
Your employer can refuse your request - however, they must provide good business reasons from a specific list which is set out in law and they must explain the reason in writing.
The business reasons for refusing a request are:
- Extra costs that will damage the business
- The work can’t be reorganised among other staff
- People can’t be recruited to do the work
- Flexible working will affect quality and performance
- The business won’t be able to meet customer demand
- There’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
- The business is planning changes to the workforce
The Carers UK website has put together a guide to requesting flexible working. See the Carers UK website for more information (external link).
The Employment Relations Act introduced the following leave entitlements which benefit carers.
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.
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 (external link).
As a carer providing regular and substantial care, you can ask your local council for 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.
For more information about Haringey Council’s services for carers, or if you live in Haringey or look after someone living in Haringey and would like to request a carers assessment, contact the First Response Team.