Understanding and Navigating Carers’ Employment Rights in the UK
Balancing caregiving responsibilities with paid employment can be challenging, and so it is essential for carers to be aware of their employment rights and protections. This article will provide an overview of the employment rights for families and unpaid carers in the UK.
Statutory Rights for Carers
Carers have the right to one request per year, to request flexible working arrangements (provided they have at least 26 weeks on continuous employment), which can include adjustments to their working hours, location, or patterns to accommodate their caring responsibilities. Employers are required to consider these requests reasonably and in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice and their own policy on Flexible Working, if applicable.
Employers can only reject a flexible working request on the grounds of one of the following eight reasons:
- The burden of additional costs;
- Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
- Inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
- Inability to recruit additional staff;
- Detrimental impact on quality;
- Detrimental impact on performance;
- Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; and
- Planned structural changes.
Employees should refer to the employer’s policy or the Acas Code which explains the eligibility criteria and the requirements to submitting a request.
Time off for Dependants
Under the Employment Rights ACT 1996, employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. This includes situations where a dependent (such as a child, spouse, or an elderly relative) falls ill, give birth, is injured, or assaulted.
On 21 October 2022, the Government announced that it was going to back the Carer’s Leave Bill, which will introduce a new and flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per annum for employees who are providing or arranging care for a dependent with a long-term care need, although a date for implementation of the provisions of the Act is yet to be announced.
Protection from Discrimination and Harassment
Carers are protected against direct and/or indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation in the workplace under the Equality Act 2010 on the grounds of a person’s association with a disabled individual.
Support for working Carers
Carers who provide regular and substantial care to a disabled person may be eligible for Care’s Allowance, a government benefit designed to provide financial support.
Further guidance can be obtained at GOV.UK.
Employers can play a vital role in supporting carers by offering flexible working arrangements, understanding, and accommodating caring responsibilities, and providing access to support networks or employee assistance programs.
Have you experienced any challenges with your carers' rights at work? If you believe your rights as a carer have been violated by your employer, don't hesitate to reach out. Our Employment team is here to provide guidance, answer your questions, and explore potential solutions.
Get in touch with us today to discuss your situation and find the assistance you need.