Caring for someone while working

If you're working for an employer when you start your caring role, it's important to tell them about your situation and your new responsibilities.

Talking to your employer

Caring for a relative with disabilities is often unpredictable and care arrangements can be complex. You need to talk to your employer about your concerns and commitments.

If you want to work, it is in your employer's best interest to consider making reasonable changes to your work pattern to help you work and continue caring. Many employers offer help to carers in various  ways.

Think about how your employer could help you and talk to them about your needs. You and your employer might consider different arrangements including flexible working and special leave in emergencies. 

Working arrangements

There are different ways to work flexibly. You could work from home or have flexible start or finish times.

Other working arrangements are: 

  • compressed working hours (where you work your normal number of hours in a short time - typically fitting five days' working time into four days)
  • term-time or annualised working hours (the amount of hours you are contracted for per month or year are worked in a flexible way)
  • job-sharing or part-time working
  • flexible holidays to fit in with alternative care arrangements

Support at work

When you discuss your caring role and responsibilities with your manager, they should give you support.

You could also:

  • talk to a welfare officer or occupational health adviser who knows about carers
  • get in-house information and advice, counselling or go to support or networking groups
  • receive a subscription to carer organisations or employee services

Special leave arrangements and time off in emergencies

Most carers know they can get emergency leave (paid or unpaid), but there are other leave arrangements that your employer might be able to offer. These include:

  • carer's leave (paid or unpaid)
  • compassionate leave
  • borrowing/buying leave
  • career breaks

You are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off if you have worked for your employer for at least a year and there is an emergency with the person you care for.

The emergency could be:

  • a breakdown in care arrangements
  • the person you care for falls ill or has an accident - this can be emotional or physical pain
  • your child is involved in an incident during school hours
  • you need to make longer term care arrangements
  • you need time off following the death of a dependant

Flexible working

One way to help manage your caring responsibilities may be to request flexible working from your employer.

All employees have a right to ask their employer for a change to their employment contract to work flexibly.

Your right is a ‘right to request’ but not a right to be granted flexible working. Your employer must seriously consider your application and can only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so.

Requesting flexible working

To be eligible for flexible working, you must have worked for the employer for 26 weeks continuously at the date you apply. You can only make one request in any 12 month period.

Other help from your employer

Other help from your employer could include:

  • access to a telephone so that you can call the person you are caring for
  • a reserved car parking space, to make getting in and out of work quicker and easier
  • reasonable notice if overtime or working from home is necessary

Carer's assessment

If you need help in your caring role, you can ask the health and social care trust for a carer's assessment. The assessment considers your needs (for example, what help you might need if you want to work) and the needs of the person you are caring for.

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