Carers and employment
Know your rights at work. Some employers may be supportive, others may not be.
Stephen O'Brien, Helpline adviser
You may be working in paid employment as well as caring for someone with Parkinson's.
Paid work can provide financial independence and money to help
with caring, a break from caring, social networks and friendships,
self-esteem and a better pension. But combining responsibilities
has its own challenges.
Everyone is different and the decisions you make about work will
depend on your personal circumstances.
But the best start is to get as much information as you can
about your options.
If you care for someone with Parkinson's, it is important to have your needs
If you are working, a carer's assessment from your local
social services, social work department or health and social care
trust will take your employment needs into account. This may
give some financial peace of mind.
Should I tell my employer that I'm a
There is no obligation to tell your employer about your
responsibilities as a carer.
But carers have statutory rights at work that help to meet their
needs. And employers may also be able to offer additional
flexibility through their own policies and procedures.
You may make this decision depending on whether your employer
has a policy to support carers, or whether you think they would be
helpful to you.
Before you talk to your employer, make sure you are aware of
your rights and what's available.
As a working carer, you are likely to need a range of support.
Possible options may include:
- access to a telephone to check on the person you care for
- flexible working – you have a right to request this
- leave arrangements (paid or unpaid)
- access to advice and information, for example on a staff
website or carers’ network
- an employee assistance programme, if your workplace has
You can find detailed information on your rights and your
employer's responsibilities from Carers
Should I tell my colleagues that I'm a carer?
This is a personal choice. Colleagues can be very supportive, so
if there is someone at work you trust, you may help it helpful to
talk to them.
Statutory rights for carers
Carers gained new rights under the Equality Act 2010.
This means that people can't be directly discriminated against or harassed because they care for someone.
Carers gained new rights under the Equality Act 2010. The Act
means that people can't be directly discriminated against or
harassed because they care for someone.
This means that carers can't be treated less favourably or not
allowed the flexibility they are legally entitled to.
Your employment status can affect your entitlement to statutory
rights. If you are self-employed, on a short-term contract or
employed through an agency you may not be covered by these
If this applies to you, contact ACAS on
08457 47 47 47 for further advice.
Carers' rights at work
Your employer may already have procedures in place to support
carers. You may find this information in your staff handbook
or staff website.
It may also be useful to speak to your line manager,
HR/personnel department, welfare officer or occupational health
adviser, trade union, staff representative or colleagues.
As a working carer, you are likely to need a range of
support - such as access to a telephone to check on the person
you care for. An understanding employer can make all the difference
to whether or not you feel you can seek support.
Possible support options include:
- flexible working arrangements
- leave arrangements (paid or unpaid at your employer's
discretion, to cover intensive periods of care)
- an employee assistance programme, if your workplace has one.
This is a workplace-focused programme designed to resolve any
problems you have that may affect your ability to do your job
- access to advice and information, for example on a staff
website or carers' network
Can I get time off in an emergency?
You have the right to take a 'reasonable' amount of time off
work to deal with an emergency involving someone you care for.
You should not be victimised or dismissed by your employer for
using this right. It is at your employer's discretion whether the
leave is paid or unpaid.
Situations where leave might be taken include:
- an acute emergency, such as a fall, that results in an
- a disruption or breakdown in care arrangements
- if the person you care for falls ill
- the need to make longer-term arrangements for the person you
You should find out how unpaid time off might affect your work
rights, pension and your Working Tax
Should I leave work?
If you are thinking of leaving work altogether, think about
whether it's right for you. Ask yourself the following
- Could you manage with less money (and any effect on an
- How do you feel about the potential loss of independence,
social contact and valuable skills?
If you don't want to leave work, there may be alternatives, such
- part-time working or job sharing
- working from home
- paid or unpaid leave
There are also alternatives to resigning, such as:
- a career break
- voluntary redundancy
- early retirement
Employers can get practical advice on supporting carers in the
workplace by visiting Employers for Carers.
What about pensions?
When it comes to pensions, you should consider the
- When will you and/or the person you care for receive a
- What will your pension(s) be worth?
- Can you arrange a personal pension to suit your likely
As a carer you may qualify for National Insurance credits, which
help to maintain your National Insurance record and protect your
entitlement to the basic State Pension and some other state
benefits, even if you're not in paid employment.
Where else can I access support?
If you are a member of a trade union, ask them for help. A local
or regional union representative may be able to negotiate with your
employer on your behalf and attend meetings with you.
If you are not in a union, there is a right to have a colleague
attend certain types of meeting with you.
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