Carers Rights in Employment
As a carer in employment you have the rights at work:
- Your Right to Flexible Working
- Time off in Emergencies
- The Right to Parental Leave
- Protection from Discrimination
Flexible working gives you the opportunity to manage both your work and caring responsibilities. As a carer or parent you have the right to request flexible working if you are an employee with 26 weeks continuous employment at the time you make an application. You have the right not to be treated less favourably or dismissed because you have made the request.
The request can cover changing hours, times or places of work. We recommend that you check your contract of employment as it may detail your entitlements. Flexible working can include:
- Working from home
- Job sharing
- Part-time working
- Term-time working
- Shift-swapping or self-rostering
- Staggered hours
- Compressed hours
How to Request Flexible Working?
The law gives you the right to make one application a year for flexible working. If you would like support with your request, please contact the Centre on (0191) 643 2298. The request to work flexibly must be made in writing, dated and include:
- an outline of the working pattern you would like
- an explanation of the effect, if any, you think the proposed change might have on your job and, how you think this could be dealt with. You should think about how the proposed change could meet the needs your employer
- the date on which you would like the proposed change to start
- a statement that it is a flexible working request
- whether you have made any previous requests, and if so the date of that request
You are not required to give reasons why you are making the request, but it may help your application if you give as much information as possible. Nor do you have to provide proof of your circumstances, ie that you are a carer, but again the more details you can give the better your chances of success may be.
Can my Employer Refuse my Request?
Your employer must consider and make a decision on your request within three months of receiving it from you, unless you agree to an extension. Your employer has a duty to deal with your request within a reasonable time, in a reasonable manner, and must give careful consideration to your request. Your employer can refuse your request but they must have good business reasons for doing so and this should be communicated to you in writing.
All employees the right to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. Whether the time off is paid or not is at the discretion of the employer.
A dependant includes your husband, wife or 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. Examples of where leave might be taken are:
- a disruption or breakdown in care arrangements
- to deal with the death of a dependant
- if a dependant falls ill, has been assaulted or in an accident
- to make longer term arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured (but not to provide long term care yourself).
- to deal wth an incident involving a child during school hours
To use this right to time off, you must inform your employer as soon as possible after the emergency has happened.
If you have at least one year's continuous service with your employer and are responsible for a child aged under 5, or under 18 if your child is entitled to Disability Living Allowance, you are entitled to:
- 18 weeks (unpaid) leave per child to look after your child
- 18 weeks (unpaid) leave per child to look after your disabled child
To qualify for parental leave, you must be a parent (named on the birth certificate), adoptive parent, or have acquired legal parental responsibility for the child. The leave must be taken by the child's fifth birthday, or for a child who is entitled to Disability Living Allowance, by their 18th birthday. For parents who have adopted a child, the leave must be taken during the five years from the date of placement or before the child's 18th birthday, whichever is the sooner.
Leave can be taken in blocks of a week (and usually up to four weeks in a year), or blocks of a day if the leave is to care for a disabled child (again, usually up to a maximum of four weeks a year). You must give at least 21 days' notice to your employer in order to take parental leave.
Parental leave can be postponed by employers if taking leave at the time requested would cause particular disruption to the organisation, e.g. during a seasonal peak in work or if multiple requests for parental leave are made at the same time. If leave is postponed, employers must inform you within seven days of the request for leave being made, and the leave must be granted within six months. Parental leave cannot be postponed if it has been requested for the time immediately after the birth of a child or the start of an adoption placement.
The Equality Act 2010 will protect you against direct discrimination or harrassment because of your caring responsibilities in employment. This is because you are counted as being 'associated' with someone who is protected by the law because of their age or disability.
Direct discrimination is where you are treated less favourably than someone else because you are caring for an elderly or disabled person. This could include your employer:
- refusing to offer you a job because of your caring responsibilities
- not offering you a promotion because of your caring responsibilities
If you would like to find out more information about your rights as a carer in employment, please contact the Centre on (0191) 643 2298.
If someone depends on you, you can depend on us.