Employment rights for carers

If you are managing a job alongside looking after someone, you are not alone - there are three million working carers in the UK.

Juggling work and care can be very challenging, so it’s important to find out about your rights.

Continuing to work while caring can help you feel good about yourself and provide you with social interaction outside of your caring role. But sometimes staying in work as your caring role increases might be difficult. You may find it helpful to take some time off or to ask your employer if you can work flexibly.

It can also be daunting if you've had time off work to care and you're now planning to go back. In all these situations it's important to know you're rights.

Your rights in work come from two sources:

  • the law gives you ‘statutory rights’ which everyone in employment are entitled to
  • your contract of employment gives you ‘contractual rights’ which can be more generous than statutory rights depending on your employer's employment policies.

Statutory rights

Statutory rights that are likely to be of interest to carers include:

  • the right to request flexible working
  • the right to time off in emergencies
  • protection from discrimination
  • the right to parental leave
  • annual leave and pay.

Taking time off in an emergency

It's a statutory right to be able to take time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. This includes someone who depends on you for care. The amount of time you are able to take is described as 'reasonable amount of time' - usually one or two days but it depends on your employer. Some employers pay employees for emergency leave while others don't.

You can find further advice and information on juggling working and caring in our blog.

Citizens Advice will be give you advice on employment rights. You can find your nearest branch by using the Carers Directory (search for advice / drop in services)

Carers UK have further information about rights at work for carers. They also provide advice about managing caring and employment, leaving work or reducing working hours, education and returning to work as a carer.

You can find further general information about statutory employment rights on the gov.uk website.

Contractual rights

It is always worth checking your contract of employment, staff handbook, HR policies or letter of appointment to see if you have any contractual rights on top of your statutory rights. Many larger employers offer staff extra rights and benefits as a way of minimising staff turnover and keeping valued employees.

Derbyshire Carers Association

Derbyshire Carers Association (DCA) have teamed up with The University of Derby, the Chamber of Commerce and other major employers and SMEs to help support unpaid carers in employment. 
Their Carers in Employment initiative aims to support and encourage businesses to recruit and retain those staff who, due to their unpaid caring responsibilities, are at risk of leaving the workforce as a result of stress, ill health, lack of understanding and/or simply lack of time. 

Legal advice

Rothera Sharp Solicitors are working with Derbyshire Carers Association to provide free legal advice clinics to carers in Derbyshire and may be able to help you with employment law, as well as other legal issues you may face as a carer. The clinics will happen on a monthly basis from June 2017 onwards. More clinics / venues are planned as the scheme progresses. Dates and venues are detailed in the news section.

Employment Rights Factsheet

Creative Carers have developed a factsheet about employment rights for carers. It details information about flexible working, protection from discrimination, time off in emergencies and more. It also has a section about parent carers. 

Other helpful information

This information was last updated on 29/06/2022

Search the Carers Directory

Look for services and groups in Derbyshire to help support you in your caring role


Signup for updates


Get our carers newsletter and blog posts delivered to your inbox