Work and caring
If you are trying to juggle caring with paid employment you are not alone. The UK has nearly five million working carers – 1 in 7 of all workers. You may feel under additional pressure and stress because of your caring role – and have extra needs.
It’s up to you whether you tell your employer about your caring responsibilities. You may prefer not to. However, if you do tell them, they will better understand the pressures you are under and you will be able to access any support they provide. Some companies have carers policies for example, or workplace carers support groups. The help you need could be very simple and easy to arrange – e.g. access to a private room to make calls.
There are also statutory rights you are entitled to, and you are protected from discrimination – employers cannot treat you less favourably because of your caring role.
Find out what support your employer has – check your staff handbook or intranet, or speak with your line manager or HR.
National policy change
In September 2021, the Government announced that working carers will have the right to a week’s unpaid leave and the ability to request flexible working from the moment they start their employment. This is in response to the Government’s consultation on carers’ leave, launched in March 2020, in recognition of the need to better support working carers. It is a good step forward. The Government has said that legislation to introduce the new leave rights will be brought in “when parliamentary time allows”, so as yet, we do now know when these changes will be implemented.
Similarly your colleagues can be very supportive, once they know about your caring role. It can be helpful just to have someone to chat with. You may find others who are carers too.
If you think you might need to leave
If you are finding it difficult to juggle caring and work, you may be thinking of giving up your job. Before you do anything, do think about what you may be losing:
- Occupational pension
- Companionship of colleagues
- Independence and a sense of ‘self’
Have a think about your own personal circumstances and what you need to facilitate you to stay in work. Then, talk to your employer who may be able to accommodate the changes or suggest other ways of allowing you to continue working. For them, allowing you some flexibility could be less time-consuming and more cost-effective than to recruit and train someone else.
You could also find out if it is possible to take a career break, early retirement or voluntary redundancy.