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For Carers Rights Day on 26th November 2020, our HR provider, Roots HR CIC, have answered some frequently asked questions about employment rights for carers.

Q Do I need to tell a prospective employer that I am an unpaid carer?

A Although there is no requirement on you to do so, it can be helpful to tell a prospective employer that you have caring responsibilities so that they understand any issues that you are dealing with outside of work and can provide support.

Q What support can I expect my employer to offer to me as an unpaid carer?

A Some employers may have policies that provide flexibility for people with caring responsibilities. Even in the absence of such policies, employers have an obligation to provide reasonable unpaid time off to enable employees to deal with an emergency involving a dependent, which includes someone who relies on you for care. Some employers may pay you for time off in these circumstances.

In addition, employees with more than 26 weeks continuous service with an employer have a statutory right to make a flexible working request to change their working hours and/or working pattern. Further details can be found on the acas website.

Q My employer has turned down my request for flexible working. Is there anything I can do now?

A If you make a flexible working request, your employer can only refuse your request if there is a legitimate business reason for doing so. Further details can be found through the above link.

You can appeal against the decision not to approve a flexible working request through either an appeals process (if set out in your employer’s flexible working policy) or via a grievance procedure. In doing so, you may want to consider whether there are any alternatives to your original request that might respond to any issues your employer has identified that have prevented them from being able to approve your flexible working request.

Q The person I care for has been shielding and I don’t feel it is safe for me to return to my current customer-facing job. Can I request to work from home or for other work adjustments?

A Many employers recognise, particularly at this time, that employees have responsibilities outside of work and will consider reasonable ways in which they can support employees in these circumstances.

In the first instance speak to your employer and let them know any challenges you are facing and what support you believe would help mitigate these; for example, temporary variation to your working arrangements. You may also wish to consider asking to use some of your annual leave or requesting a period of unpaid leave, or seeing if it would be possible to work from home.

If you are unable to come to an agreement through this informal route and you have more than 26 weeks continuous service, you have a statutory right to make a flexible working request.

About Roots HR

Roots HR is the UK’s leading specialist provider of HR services to social sector employers founded on the belief that social sector organisations of all sizes should have access to high quality, tailored, practical, legally sound and affordable human resources advice and services.