What rights do I have at work?
I’m looking after my mum/dad/special needs child, and it’s difficult to manage this together with my work. Is there anything I’m entitled to from my employer?”
These are questions that I have been asked many times from people that are juggling work with unpaid caring responsibilities. We call them Working Carers.
There is a great deal more awareness and understanding of caring issues and how to support working carers by employers today, compared to a few years ago. Through learning during the Covid Pandemic, caring issues have been highlighted and many employers have a completely new understanding of flexible working and how to support employees.
So what should you do if caring and working clash or if the pressure builds up?
Here are a few pointers:
- Read up on your policies. Do you have access to any extra time off as a carer? Is there anything in place for emergencies? What are the policies around flexible working?
- Think through what support you would like from work. What would be helpful in the short term and long term? Make sure you think long term and consider what is best for you.
- Have a conversation with your line manager, making sure you are clear in what you are asking, if needed there is the possible to involve HR or a union at a later stage.
- Remember that your employer is ultimately interested in supporting you as that is in their interest as much as yours.
For any support with your caring role outside work please contact the Advice Line at Carers Leeds. Getting the right support in place for you and the person you care for will also make a huge difference to juggling work and caring.
The Right not to be
The most prominent right we have as carers is the right to not to be discriminated against. Under the Equality Act 2010, we cannot be discriminated against based on our association with somebody who has a disability, which is a protected characteristic.
This means our caring roles cannot be the reason that we are treated less favourably than colleagues. This also applies outside the workplace.
The Right to request
All employees have the right to request flexible working if we have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks.
In our request we can include asking for flexible working conditions such as allowing a phone on the desk or answering calls from the work phone. Or adjustments to work times and flexibility to allow us to take the person we care for, to appointments. We must be really clear about what it is we want – such as if this is a permanent or temporary change.
Find out more about Flexible Working
The Right to time off to
CARE FOR DEPENDENTS
One of our employee rights is time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent – which is covered by the Employment Rights Act 1996.
A dependent could be our child, partner, spouse, parent or someone else who depends on us to provide care. There is no set amount of time which we can take off, as it depends on the situation, but the law states that we’re allowed ‘a reasonable amount of time’.
This can be paid or unpaid leave and will depend on the employer.