Flexible working, time off and leave

Flexible working, time off and leave

As a working carer, you are entitled to make a request for flexible working. The pressures of caring may affect your ability to do your job. You may need to reduce how much you work, or at some point give up work.

Your right to request flexible working

All employees who have worked for their employer for a minimum of 26 weeks may request a flexible working arrangement. The request can cover changing hours, times or places of work.

You could ask your employer for any of these options:

  • flexible start and finish times
  • compressed working hours
  • annualised working hours
  • job sharing or part time working
  • working from home
  • term-time working.

What you’d need to do

Have an informal conversation with your line manager, often flexible working arrangements are agreed without following a formal process.

If you decide to formally make a flexible working request, ask your employer for a copy of their flexible working policy.  You’ll then need to email or write to your employer asking for the changes you would like and saying why these would help you, and when you would like them to start. You’ll need to explain how the changes might affect your work role and how this could be managed.

It is important to think carefully about any financial or practical implications before making your request. When making your request, you may wish to consider asking for a trial period.

There is no statutory right to appeal a decision, however, your employer may include the right to appeal in their policy, so if the decision is turned down, make sure you check the policy.

If you are turned down it’s still worth asking if your company has a carers’ policy.

Time off in emergencies

You also have the right to a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off to deal with emergencies involving a dependant. You need to tell your employer as soon as possible that the emergency has happened.   It is at the employer’s discretion whether the leave is paid or unpaid. Situations where this leave might be taken include:

  • disruption or breakdown in your care arrangements
  • if the person you care for falls ill, is assaulted or in an accident (including simply being emotionally distressed, not physically)
  • to deal with an incident involving a child during school hours
  • to make longer term arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • when a dependent dies

Parental leave

Parental leave is unpaid. You’re entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child/adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. You have to have worked for your employer for at least a year.

The limit on how much parental leave each parent can take in a year is 4 weeks for each child (unless your employer agrees otherwise).

You must take parental leave as whole weeks (eg 1 week or 2 weeks) rather than individual days, unless your employer agrees otherwise, or if your child is disabled. You don’t have to take all the leave at once. A ‘week’ equals the length of time an employee normally works over 7 days.

More information is available on The Goverment’s website.

Returning to work

A common barrier faced by carers when they start thinking of returning to work is lack of confidence. But don’t forget that as a carer, you have probably developed many invaluable skills that will be useful in the workplace.

Some carers also feel guilty if they have to leave their loved-one in someone else’s care and are overwhelmed by the practical issues they face. These feelings can make the world of work appear very daunting.

We can provide guidance, help you to identify your strengths and work with you to put together a plan that will help you take those important first steps to achieving your goals.

Resources to help

Carers UK, in partnership with Barclays, have a guide called ‘Let’s Talk About Flexible Working’, to support those juggling work and care. Take a look at their short films about flexible working which work with the guide.

Wider help

teenager feet and legs

Young adults

If you're a young adult (under 25), our specialist YAC team are here to help you, especially with concerns about work, money and education.

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