According to the NHS, carers make up more than 12% of UK employees, and more than 2 million people become carers each year. That’s a lot of people caring for a lot of friends, relatives and loved ones.
Caring is a rewarding, yet challenging, experience. You might think that continuing to work would add extra stain, but many carers find that working has a positive influence on their wellbeing. It gives them a purpose, social interaction, self-esteem, financial freedom and a break away from caring-related issues.
If you’re thinking of going back to work or already juggle employment and caring for someone, there are a range of things you can do to make things easier.
What Support Can You Expect?
If you’re a carer, you have the same rights as any other employee. You can’t be dismissed unfairly, and there are a number of employment laws designed to protect you. These include:
• Right to request flexible working
• Time off for dependants
• Unpaid parental leave
• Annual leave and pay
These all relate to your right to have time off to care for someone, whether paid or unpaid. We discuss flexible working and other options for managing your hours below.
Depending on the company, you may be able to talk to a welfare officer or health advisor, receive in-hours advice or counselling, or be recommended to a support/networking group.
How To Manage Your Work Hours
Flexible working hours are a great way to manage your work to fit around your caring duties. It can give you a better work-life balance whilst still enjoying the financial benefits of remaining in work. Options that may be suitable include working during the evenings or weekends, or working compressed hours to enjoy a day off during the week.
Other ideas include working from home, job sharing with another part-time worker, only working during term time or only working when your caree is being looked after by someone else.
It’s important to note that although workers with 26 weeks’ service have the right to request flexible working hours or to be able to work from home, employers can refuse the request if they have a good reason.
It’s important to discuss all options with your employer and come up with a personalised plan to suit both of your needs. It’s in your employer’s best interests to help you with a flexible approach to work, as it has many benefits for them:
• It ensures the organisations retains your skills and experience, and can save them time and money recruiting or training a replacement
• A successful team is kept intact
• It reduces the impact of stress and personal issues on your productivity
• It’s an opportunity for the employer to show they care, which can improve morale and encourages loyalty to the company