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Carers at Work

Rights to Flexible Working

If you find it hard to balance your work life with your caring responsibilities (and other commitments) you may want to ask for flexible working.  Flexible working could mean,

  • Compressed working hours where you work full time over fewer days
  • Flexible working times
  • Term time working
  • Job share
  • Part time working
  • Working from home

Benefits of creating policies that support carers in work:

  • —Attracts and retains staff
  • —Reduces stress
  • —Reduces sick leave
  • —Increased productivity
  • —Improves service delivery
  • —Produces cost savings
  • —Improves people management

Carers that give up work:

  • —1 in 5 carers give up paid employment
  • —Fall into financial hardship
  • —Missing out on their pension
  • —Increase stress
  • —Reduced health and wellbeing

Flexible Working:

  • —You don't need to be a carer to ask for flexible working
  • You have a right to flexible working if you have 26 weeks continuous employment
  • —You will be making a statutory request
  • Your employer has to consider your request in a “reasonable manner”
  • —You can only request flexible working once a year

The Law:

  • —Gives carers the right to make an application once a year
  • Employers may be sympathetic to further applications within the year

Flexible Working:

      1.Flexi start and finish times
      2.Compressed working hours [e.g.30 hr week over 4 days]
      3.Annualised working hours [1560 hrs a year 35 hrs week and during times of crisis 20 hrs a week]
      4.Term-time working
      5.Job share
      6.Part time work
      7.Home working

Employers rights & responsibilities:

  • Employers are not legally bound to accept the request
  • Any reduce hours agreed the employer does not have to pay
  • —Must only rejected for sound business reasons and put this in writing
  • —Requests must be taken seriously
  • Support offered to the employee during the process
  • —Keep within time scales
  • —Ensure the employee is not subject to detriment or dismissal via their application

Employers Consideration to refuse:

  • —The burden of additional costs
  • —Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • —Inability to re-organise work among existing staff
  • —Inability to recruit additional staff
  • Detrimental impact on quality
  • —Detrimental impact on performance
  • Insufficiency of work during the period the employee proposes to work
  • —Planned structural changes


  • —Meeting within 28 days of application
  • —Decision within 14 days
  • —14 days for employee to appeal decision
  • 14 days to hold appeal meeting
  • Employee has the right to complaint to Employment Tribunal

Time off in an Emergency:

  • —Everyone needs to cope with emergencies from time to time
  • —All employees have a right to take unpaid time off in an emergency
  • —As a carer you may be more likely to have a sudden emergency

What counts as an emergency?

  • —When care arrangement are temporarily disrupted
  • —When someone you look after dies
  • When someone you are looking after is ill or suffers a mishap
  • When you need to arrange long term care for the person you are looking after but not long term care given by yourself


Dianne requested to work compressed hours:Diane works as a sales assistant and care for her husband who has cystic fibrosis.  Her husband currently receives care from social services for three days a week, and his sister looks after him one day a wee.  Diane now works her 30 hour week in four days instead of five to enable her to look after her husband for the rest of the week.

Barry requested to work from home:Barry is a full time accounts manager for a large company and cares for his son with a learning disability. Barry has a 2 hour journey to and from work. Barry makes a request to work 3 days from a week from home.His manager works out the systems needed for him to work remotely and be contactable by staff.  They also agree flexibility around his working at home days to ensure meetings in the office are covered .

Conrad requested to work annualised hour:Conrad works in a call centre and cares for his wife who has been diagnosed with manic depression.  Conrad’s wife’s condition is such that her need for support varies; some months she needs very little looking after, other months is she needs someone to be with her almost all the time to make sure she is safe.  Conrad ask to work annualised hours so that he has some flexibility to meet her needs but can carry on working – from the 2080 hours a year he must work, Conrad has a set pattern of work for 1040 hours (20 hrs a week) The remaining hours he agrees on a monthly basis with his employer; during the months his wife is well, he works extra hours, when she is unwell, he reduces his hours.