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Balancing work and caring

If you’re working as well as caring for someone, it can be a lot to handle at once. But knowing your rights at work could help.

The right to flexible working

If you've been working for your employer for six months, you have the right to request flexible working arrangements to help you fulfil your responsibilities. It could help you find a working pattern that suits your caring role and give you more time to take care of yourself, too.

You can make one request for flexible working per year. Though your employer doesn't have to say yes, they need a sound business reason for saying no – and, if needs be, you can ask again the following year.

Flexible working might involve:

Working compressed hours

This is when you work the same number of hours but over fewer days – such as 8am to 6pm over four days rather than 9am to 5pm over five days.

Changing your working hours

Perhaps you could start work earlier or finish later to help you with your caring responsibilities.

Part-time working or job sharing

This is when you share your job with another colleague and split the hours between you.

Location flexible working

Perhaps you could work from home all or part of the time, be on call from wherever you want to be based, or work in different branches of your organisation if you sometimes need to be near a relative, care home or hospital.

Interested in flexible working?

The right to time off in an emergency

You also have the right to time off in an emergency when it involves a person who is dependent on you – for example, your partner, your parent, or your child. If someone else relies on you for help, they may also count as a dependent.

Examples of when you might need to use this right include:

  • when your normal care arrangements have been cancelled or changed
  • if the person you care for dies, is ill, or has an accident
  • when you need time off to organise long-term arrangements for the person you care for

What should I do next?

If you're finding it hard to juggle work and caring, why not talk to your employer to see what they suggest? You might be able to do a trial of flexible working.

We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.

Please help us be there for older people in need

By donating today, you could help us answer more calls to our advice line, campaign harder for older people’s rights and fair treatment and provide regular friendship calls to people who are desperately lonely.

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Last updated: Apr 28 2022

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