Working and Caring

If you’re juggling work with looking after someone, you’re not alone – there are thousands like you across the West Midlands.

This section takes you through your rights at work, including flexible working, taking time off and protection from discrimination.

What are my rights as a working carer?

Requesting flexible leave

If you need to combine work with your caring responsibilities, it may be possible for you to request a flexible working arrangement to help. Examples of such arrangements are:

  • Flexi-time – employees may be required to work within set times but outside of these ‘core hours’ have some flexibility in how they work their hours.
  • Working from home or remote working – where employees spend part or all of their working week away from the workplace. Home-working is just one option.
  • Job sharing – usually two employees share the work normally done by one person.
  • Part-time working – employees might work shorter days or fewer days in a week.
  • Term-time working – employees don’t work during school holidays and either take paid or unpaid leave or their salary is calculated pro-rata over the whole year.
  • Staggered hours – employees have various starting and finishing times meaning that goods and services are available outside traditional working hours.
  • Compressed hours – employees work their total hours over fewer working days eg, a 10 day fortnight is compressed into a nine day fortnight.
  • Mealtime flex – employees take their lunch break when it suits them during the work day. Some employees may choose to take a shorter break instead and leave work earlier.
  • Annualised hours – employees work a specified number of hours over the year but have some flexibility about when they work. These employees usually have a set number of ‘core’ hours they work each week and work the remainder of their hours flexibly.

When requesting flexible working it’s important to:

  • State that this is a flexible working request
  • Outline the working pattern that would work for you
  • Explain how this might impact your role and how you would manage any negatives
  • The date on which you would like the change to start

Flexible Working Template

Taking Time Off

If you’re managing work alongside your caring responsibilities, finding a good balance isn’t always easy and can become quite a juggling act. But taking time off from work when you need to prioritise someone’s caring needs shouldn’t be a source of stress or worry.

Employees have the legal right to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving someone who relies on you for help (as a dependant). This could include your spouse, partner, child, parent, or others who depend upon you.

Carer’s Leave Act

The Carer’s Leave Act, which came into effect on the 6 April 2024, has opened up many more possibilities for carers who are employed in England, Wales and Scotland.

Employees are entitled to one week’s unpaid leave per year if providing or arranging care for someone with a long-term care need. This leave can be taken flexibly (in half or full days) for planned and foreseen caring commitments.

It is available from the first day of employment and provides the same employment protections to employees as other forms of family-related leave, including protection from dismissal. Whether the time off is paid or not is at the discretion of your employer.

Visit Carers UK website to find out more about the Carer’s Leave Act.

My employer isn’t making it easy for me to take off time when I need it

There is professional advice you can seek if you feel that you are being treated unfairly or if your employer is making this difficult for you. Citizens Advice provides good guidance on this, as well as outlining your options for other scenarios where you might need to take time off.