Your legal rights as a carer

Protection from discrimination

Accessing services

The Equality Act 2010 (England, Scotland and Wales only) protects carers when you shop for goods or services, and when you use public transport.

Direct discrimination occurs when you’re treated less favourably than somebody else because of your caring responsibilities.

The act protects people caring for someone with cancer when:

  • you’re discouraged from using a service
  • it has been made impossible for you to use a facility
  • you’re given a worse service than you would have received if you weren’t a carer.

Harassment is when you experience unwanted behaviour relating to disability, which makes you feel intimidated, degraded or offended. It’s against the law for you to be harassed at work, and when you buy goods or services when caring for a disabled person.

Victimisation is when you’re treated unfavourably because you’ve made a complaint about discrimination or harassment. This is covered under the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland), as long as you genuinely believe your original complaint to be true.

At work

Carers are protected from direct discrimination and harassment at work under The Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). See our information about your rights at work as a carer for more details.

Making legal decisions

The person you are caring for may want to discuss what they would like to happen if their illness gets worse, particularly if they have advanced cancer. There are some legal issues you may need to think about if you are helping the person you care for to plan ahead. It’s important to think about who will make certain decisions if they become unable to.

As a carer, you may need to make decisions on their behalf or you may be asked about decisions that affect them. For example, the doctor or nurse may ask you about stopping treatment or whether the person you care for should be resuscitated or not. You may be wondering when these kinds of difficult decisions need to be made, and who should make them. Sometimes it can be difficult to make decisions because other people, perhaps family members, want to be involved. Or you may not want to be involved in making decisions at all. Every person and relationship is different. Use your own judgement and rely on the trust between you and the person you are caring for. If you talk about the options in advance, it can help if the time comes to make such decisions.

It can also help to have an open and honest discussion with the professionals involved. It’s important that you know what the procedures involve and how they will affect the person you’re caring for. It can be helpful to speak to their doctor to get expert medical information and advice.

When decisions have to be made, talk to the family and friends involved and make sure you all agree. The professionals can be a source of support as well.

Our section on planning for the future with advanced cancer has more information about the legal issues involved in planning ahead.

‘The earlier you discuss these issues, the more prepared you will be for them if they happen. It can help to put their mind at ease too.’


Carer’s assessment

Carers have a legal right to a carer’s assessment. We have more information about having a carer’s assessment.