Carers in the UK have access to a number of legal regulations to support them in the workplace. These include the right to flexible working, time off for emergencies, access to parental leave, and protection from discrimination.

Flexible working

Most working carers now have the legal right to request a flexible working pattern from their employer to help them to balance their work and caring responsibilities. From 30 June 2014 the right to request flexible working was extended to cover all employees with 26 weeks service or more. The request can cover changing hours, times or place of work.

A flexible working pattern might be the difference between a carer continuing to work or having to resign and yet flexible working opportunities benefit everyone – employers, employees and their families. There is a duty on employers to deal with requests in a reasonable manner, considering whether the request can be accommodated on business grounds.

Further information is available in the Carers UK document A guide to requesting flexible working” or you can find out more on the Carers UK website.

Time off in emergencies

All employees have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. This right also includes some protection from victimisation and dismissal. It is at the employer’s discretion whether the leave is paid or unpaid. Find out more at www.carersuk.org/timeoff

Parental leave

If you have worked for your employer for at least a year and are responsible for a child, you are entitled to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave (per parent per child) before your child’s fifth birthday or before your child’s eighteenth birthday if they receive Disability Living Allowance. Find out more on the Carers UK website

or in the Carers UK Carers rights guide or Supporting working carers fact sheet.

Protection from discrimination

If you are looking after someone who is elderly or disabled, the law – under the Equality Act 2010 – will protect you against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities. This is because you are counted as being ‘associated’ with someone who is protected by the law because of their age or disability. For more information about this and other rights at work please visit the Carers UK website .