Your Rights as an Unpaid Carer when Working

If you are an unpaid carer as well as a Personal Assistant, you have certain rights when it comes to your job.

Your rights in work come from two sources:

  • The law gives you ‘statutory rights’ which everyone has
  • Your contract of employment gives you ‘contractual rights’ which can be more generous than statutory rights.

The right to request flexible working

All employees have a right to request flexible working after they have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks (six months), as long as they haven’t already made a flexible working request within the last 12 months.

From 6 April 2024, the law will change and this will mean you have the right to request flexible working from day one of your job. You can also make formal requests for flexible working twice in every 12 months (previously you could only do it once every 12 months).

Flexible working requests should be made in writing and should include:

  • Details of the revised working pattern you are seeking
  • How you think this may affect your employer/ the person you support
  • How you think this can be dealt with.

Employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting any request. From 6 April 2024, if an employer rejects your request they must also discuss the reasoning behind the decision with you, as well as the impact that any flexible working with have on your role and how this could be limited.

Examples of flexible working include:

  • Home working
  • Part-time working
  • Term-time working
  • Working compressed hours
  • Working staggered hours
  • Working annualised hours
  • Flexi-time
  • Shift working
  • Job sharing.

The right to time off in emergencies

All employees have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency or an unforeseen matter involving a dependant. This may be your partner, child or parent, or someone living with you as part of your family – others who rely on you for help in an emergency may also qualify. The time off is unpaid unless your employer is willing to give paid time off as a contractual right.

Examples of emergency situations include:

  • A disruption or breakdown in care arrangements
  • The death of a dependant
  • If a dependant falls ill or is in an accident
  • To make longer-term arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured (but not to provide long-term care yourself)
  • An incident involving a child during school hours.

Protection from discrimination

In England, Wales and Scotland, 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.

The right to parental leave

If you have worked for the same employer for 12 months and you are responsible for a child aged under 18, you are entitled to 18 weeks’ leave per child, which must be taken by the child’s 18th birthday. This time off is unpaid unless your employer is willing to give paid time off as a contractual right.

Next steps

Take a look at the resources available below from Carers UK to guide you in more detail on your rights in work.

Part of
Last Updated
26 January 2024
First Published
13 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.