Carers Rights at Work
There are currently over three million working carers in the UK. Employment is vital for carers in particular, for their well-being and sense of self-worth, maintaining income and as a way of maintaining social contact and combating isolation.
Carers have statutory rights at work and employers are also able to offer additional flexibility through their own policies and procedures. Carers often need to be proactive in highlighting their needs, although increasingly employers are realising the business case for introducing flexible working and supporting carers.
Individuals, employers and statutory agencies can all help to support carers who are in work, or who would like to be in work. Working carers may need a range of support and planning in the workplace, depending on their circumstances.
The Work and Families Act 2006 and the Employment Rights Act 1996 give working carers rights to help them manage work and caring, including the right to request flexible work and leave entitlement. In Northern Ireland the equivalent legislation is: the Work and Families (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996).
The carer’s employment status can affect entitlement to statutory rights. These rights always apply to employees, but those who are self employed, on a short-term contract or employed through an agency may not be covered. Carers who are not employees should seek independent advice.
For an example of good practice, see Working Families.co.uk - case study of BT as a carer friendly employer.
The good news is that carers can get certain social security benefits, like Carers Allowance, even if they do some work. The bad news is that the rules around hours worked and amount of pay they can receive are quite complicated, so it is always best to get professional advice about the regulations and allowances. Find more information on financial matters on the DirectGov website.
Where there is not sufficient resource or expertise within the organisation to support carers effectively it may be useful to buy this in or to work in partnership with an external organisation, such as Carers Trust or another local agency. Some organisations are listed below.
Scottish Employability Pilot for Young Carers
This report highlights young carers and employability.
Employability Report (1.2 MB)
Direct Gov guide to parental leave & flexible working
Worksmart (TUC website) guide to family friendly working
Working families: support on employment rights, childcare and flexible working
Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR)
Carers UK financial information pages
Crossroads Caring for Carers
Local Carers' Centres and projects are listed on Carers.org