Working and caring
If you are keen to work alongside your caring role, or if you are already working but finding it hard to manage as well as being a carer this page should be helpful for you.
If you work and care you are eligible for support. There is further information about this from a Torbay Solicitor below and the Carers UK website offers useful information about employment, the law and carers. In addition to this you can access support through Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s Employability Hub or through the Trust’s Careers Coaching for Carers scheme. Alternatively, if you are in receipt of Carers Allowance but not also claiming Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Income Support the Job Centre offers Work Coaching for Carers.
Are you a carer in employment? Your rights explained
Caring for a loved one can sometimes be lonely and you may feel that continuing to work while caring for your dependant can help raise your spirits and provide you with the social interaction you may be missing in your role as a carer. Returning to or continuing to work might feel a little daunting and you are probably asking yourself questions such as “will I be able to take time off at short notice if my dependant needs me?”, “will I be able to work flexible times to fit around my caring duties?” or “is my job at risk”? This article is designed to help you understand your employment rights.
Q: What are my rights with regards to flexible working?
If you have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks you have the right to request flexible working. Only one request can be made in any 12 month period and so you should be clear on what flexibility will assist you the most before making such a request. Employers have 3 months from the date of your request to make a decision and must have a sound business reason to reject your request.
A request for flexibility may be to change your place of work, hours of work or working pattern. If you have less than 26 weeks service although you don’t have the benefit of a statutory right your employer may still be willing to consider reasonable requests. You should speak to your manager as soon as possible.
Q: What rights do I have to request time off to support the person I care for?
All employees have the right to unpaid time off for certain emergencies. You do not have to have worked for your employer for any minimum period of time. As a carer you are probably more likely to have sudden emergencies to deal with and therefore it should give comfort that you are entitled to take such time without risking your job.
The right is to a reasonable amount of time off, although it is not stated how much is reasonable. In most cases a day or two will be sufficient to deal with the immediate crisis, but it will depend on the individual circumstances. You must tell the employer as soon as possible the reason for the absence and how long you expect to be absent.
Q: How do I find out if my employer offers anything more for carers?
Check your employer’s staff handbook which contains all its policies and procedures. They may have a policy that time off for a dependant is paid. You should also check your contract of employment to see if there is any contractual right to paid time off. If there is no policy, whether the time off is paid or not is at your employer’s discretion.
Q: Is it a good idea to discuss my situation with my employer?
Yes. If you are struggling to juggle work and being a carer, talking to someone could help. Employers value skilled and committed staff and they may be able to help you. It may be by granting you time off work to have a think about your options or allowing you a career break. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “It’s too much, I’ll have to resign…” and carefully review your options before making any decision.
The Carers Trust provides free information, support and advice for the UK’s seven million carers. Visit www.carers.org to find out more.
This information was kindly supplied by Magdalene Bristow of Wollen Michelmore Solicitors.
Carers who are in receipt of Carers Allowance who are not claiming it in conjunction with Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Income Support have the option of voluntary interviews with a Jobcentre Work Coach. They may be eligible for help under Flexible Support Fund. This is a fund that can help people overcome the barriers that are preventing them moving into employment.
Many carers will require help with replacement care costs to enable them to participate effectively in Jobcentre Plus approved activities and interviews. Regardless of which benefit group a carer falls into, they may be able to access funding where there is a replacement care need – in the same way Jobcentre Plus fund payments of childcare costs for eligible parents.
To be eligible for replacement care costs the carer must:
- be aged 18 or over, and
- be working less than 16 hours per week, and
- spend a significant proportion of their lives providing unpaid support to relatives, partners or friends who are ill, frail, disabled or have a mental health or substance misuse problems.
Replacement care can be used when the carer is engaged in Jobcentre Plus approved activity, or attending an interview with a JC Work Coach, provider or employer.
If you want to know more please contact Torquay Jobcentre Plus on 0345 604 3719.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust offers Careers Coaching for Carers who would like to talk through their options to work alongside their caring role. The sessions will offer carers the opportunity to explore their aspirations, opportunities and limitations with a view to finding the best next step to finding appropriate work. For more information see our leaflet “What is Careers Coaching for Carers?“. If you would like to benefit from the Careers Coaching for Carers scheme please complete the Coaching for Carers Request Form and return to details on form.
There are many issues to consider if you are juggling work and caring. These links will take you to the Carers UK website.