Know your rights at work

Know your rights at work

There is some support available that may help alleviate the stresses of working and caring. The following may be of help:

Flexible working

All employees have a 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.

Flexible working requests should be made in writing and should include details of the revised working pattern you’re seeking, how you think this may affect your employer’s business and how you think this can be dealt with. Only one request is allowed in a year. You can download a sample letter here.

Employers must make their decision within three months of your request and if they choose to reject the request, they must have a sound business reason for doing so.

Some employers offer flexible working from day one of employment, so it’s worth finding this out.

Some organisations promote their flexible working options on their websites and in recruitment packages. Working Families encourage the use of the ‘happy to talk flexible working’ strapline so keep an eye out for this if you’re looking for work.

There are a number of ways you can work flexibly; this visual displays a few of the options.

Update as of September 2021:

The Government has set out new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement for every employee in Britain. It looks unlikely for this new law to come into play before mid- to late 2022 at the earliest.

Find out more about flexible working here.

The right to time off in emergencies

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 dependant. This may be 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.

Each workplace will have different rules on what they see as acceptable reasons for absence and what/if they will pay. 

Reasons could include:

  • Arranging care for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • A disruption or breakdown in care arrangements
  • Bereavement
  • Emergency medical appointments

You can’t have time off if you knew about a situation beforehand. For example you wouldn’t be covered if you wanted to take your child to hospital for a pre-arranged appointment. You might be entitled to parental leave instead.

Parental leave

If you’ve worked for the same employer for 12 months and are responsible for a child aged under 18, you’re entitled to 18 weeks’ leave per child, which must be taken by the child’s 18th birthday. This time off is unpaid unless your employer is willing to give paid time off as a contractual right.

Find out more about this here.

Protection from discrimination

If you’re looking after someone who is elderly or disabled, the law – under the Equality Act 2010 – will protect you against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities.

Find out more about this here.

Carers Leave

A number of organisations now offer carers leave – either paid or unpaid. It’s worth speaking to your HR department or line manager to find out if this is available to you.

Update as of September 2021:

The Government has set out new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement for every employee in Britain. It will also introduce a day one right to one week’s unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities. 

Carer’s leave will be introduced when parliamentary time allows, which looks unlikely to be before mid- to late 2022 at the earliest. Organisations such as Carers UK have been campaigning on the introduction of carer’s leave for years and see this as an important step forward for carers who balance work and caring.

Read more.

Carers Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is currently paid at £67.60 a week (April 2021-22). It’s not based on your income and capital (or any partner’s). However, there is a cap on how much you can earn from work and still be entitled to Carer’s Allowance.

If you’re in paid work (including self-employment) you cannot get Carer’s Allowance if you earn more than £128 a week (after deductions).

Find out more about this here.

Resources for carers

Your Rights In Work factsheet – Carers UK

ACAS website

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