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Your rights in the workplace as a carer

Protection from discrimination

If you are looking after someone who is older or has disabilties you are protected under the Equality Act 2010 against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities. This is because you are counted as being 'associated' with someone who is protected by the law because of their age or disability.

Direct discrimination is where you are treated less favourably than someone else because you are caring for an elderly or disabled person. This could include your employer:

  • refusing to offer you a job because of your caring responsibilities 
  • treating you less favourably because of your caring responsibilities

If you think you are being discriminated against at work because of your caring responsibilities, contact Carers UK Advice Service or the ACAS Helpline which provides free and confidential employment advice.

Support from your employer

It's a good idea to check your employer's policies for supporting carers.

Find out what support and/or policies your employer has by checking your contract, staff handbook or intranet. You can also speak to your line manager, the personnel department in your organisation, or your trade union.

You do not have to tell your employer about your caring responsibilities, but you might find that if you inform your manager or personnel officer about your situation they can help you manage your two roles.

For example, you may be able to use leave arrangements, paid or unpaid, at the discretion of your employer to cover intensive periods of care.

It may also help to discuss your situation with someone whom you can trust at work. You may find that other colleagues are also carers, and that together you are more able to talk to your employer about how they can support you.

Other information and advice

Contact the ACAS Helpline which provides free and confidential advice on all aspects of employment rights.

Carers UK have advice and information on your rights in the workplace as a carer, and maintaining a balance between work and your responsibilities as a carer.
The also run an advice service and telephone advice line on all carer issues.

The Carers Trust offer advice to carers on employment issues.

The Employers for Carers organisation is committed to promoting the rights of carers in the work place, and stresses that it makes good economic sense to look after employees who are also looking after someone away from the work place.

The Working Families website provides information on your financial and employment rights when looking after a disabled child or adult.