The Work and Families Act 2006, the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 give employed carers the right to request flexible working, such as changing hours or working from home. Where possible, flexible working can be arranged to maintain your normal income.
Requesting flexible working
To be eligible for flexible working, the person making the request must be caring for:
- their husband, wife, partner or civil partner
- a child under 17, or, if they receive Disability Living Allowance, a child under 18
- a near relative – this includes parents, parents-in-law, adult children, adopted adult children, siblings, brothers- and sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, grandparents, step-relatives or someone who lives at the same address as the carer (excluding tenants, lodgers and employees).
Eligible carers who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks can apply to make a permanent or temporary change to their terms and conditions. Under this legislation, they can only make one request a year. However, more requests could be made outside of the legislation. An employer can refuse a request, but must give good reasons for doing so. If this happens, an employee can appeal the decision.
The right to request flexible working could make the difference between a carer leaving or staying at work.
Flexible working arrangements
Flexible working arrangements can make it easier for you to carry on working at the same time as caring for your relative or dependant. These arrangements could include:
- working from home
- flexible starting or finishing times
- compressed working hours (where you work your normal number of hours in a shorter time, for example fitting a five-day working week into four days)
- annualised working hours (this is where the amount of hours you are contracted for per month or year are worked in a flexible way)
- job-sharing or working part-time
- flexible holidays to fit in with alternative care arrangements.