Employment is vital for carers in particular, for their well-being and sense of self-worth, for maintaining income and as a way of maintaining social contact and combating isolation.
Carers have statutory rights at work and employers can also 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.
- with 26 weeks service have the right to request flexible working (in Northern Ireland this right is limited to carers and those with child care responsibilities)
- caring for a disabled child have a right to 18 weeks unpaid leave in the period up to the child’s 18th birthday
- have the right to time off in emergency to care for a dependant.
The carer’s employment status can affect entitlement to statutory rights.
For examples of good practice, visit the Working Families website.
Carers may be entitled to certain social security benefits, like Carers Allowance, even if they do some work. However, 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.
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.