Am I a Carer?

3 in 5 of us will become a carer at some point in our lives

If you look after someone you love or care about, you may not consider yourself a carer. Caring is something we do as parents, partners, family and friends, often without question or the need for a label.

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a family member or friend who could not always manage without their support. They might look after someone with a physical disability, long term health condition, mental health issue or a problem with substance misuse.

It can happen at any time and have a huge impact on a person’s life, not only affecting them, but the whole family. You might be juggling caring with looking after the rest of your family and holding down a job.

What’s it like being a carer?

Caring for someone can be positive and rewarding, but it can also be challenging, tiring and isolating. It may also affect your finances and ability to work or study.

Caring can:

  • be physically exhausting
  • be mentally exhausting
  • be increasingly isolating
  • lead to financial hardship
  • feel like a constant battle to access the help you need
  • affect your career and future prospects

Watch our short video to hear what it’s like first hand…

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If you are a carer, you are not alone. Find out where to get free support available in your area.


Juggling work and care

1 in 7 workers is a carerLady at computer feeling stressed

Holding down a paid job whilst caring for a loved one is something that more and more people are having to cope with. A caring role on its own can be extremely demanding and exhausting – add in the demands of a paid job alongside that and it’s no surprise that 1 in 5 carers ends up quitting work altogether.

You shouldn’t have to put your chance of a career on hold, or never have the opportunity to have one and reach your full potential. We work with employers to create carer-aware workplaces where working carers are supported to stay in work and continue to develop professionally whilst caring for someone at home.

Help to manage your caring role alongside your job

Local carer support services exist to help you find the advice and support you need, both to help you in your caring role and to help you to continue living your own life. Take a look at our Support Services page to learn how you can find out how to access free support and advice in your area.

Is your employer Working for Carers?

If you feel your employer doesn’t understand or recognise your caring role, or is unwilling to be supportive or flexible to enable you to continue working, we can help them to make a positive change and be recognised for their efforts. By signing our charter and becoming a Working for Carers accredited employer, they will have access to a range of online resources and e-training to help them implement better policies and develop a carer-aware management team.

On the other hand, if you think your employer is doing a great job in their understanding of and support for the carers in their workforce, why not tell them about our accreditation? It’s a great way to show other staff and customers that they value and treat their employees well, giving their reputation a well-deserved boost!

Requesting flexible working

Any employee with at least 26 weeks’ unbroken employment can make a written request for flexible working. This could be a change to the hours they work, the times they work or the location in which they work.

Making your request

To exercise your right to request flexible working, your request must:

  • Be in writing
  • Be dated
  • State that it is an application made under the statutory procedure
  • Specify the change that you’d like to make and when you’d like this to start
  • Explain what effect, if any, you think the change would have on the business and how this could be resolved
  • State whether you have previously made an application and, if so, when.

In return, your employer must:

  • Deal with your request in a reasonable manner, considering the potential benefits and the possible adverse impact on the business, and
  • Inform you of their decision in writing as soon as possible, and no later than 3 months after the request is made.

Taking time off in an emergency

All employees have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off work without notice to deal with urgent situations affecting their dependants. This is called emergency leave or time off for dependants. You don’t need to provide any evidence before taking the time off and there is no limit on the number of times you can exercise this right.

You are entitled to take emergency leave in the following situations:

  • To provide assistance if a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted
  • To make care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • In the event of the death of a dependant
  • To deal with the unexpected disruption of care arrangements for a dependant
  • To deal with an unexpected incident involving your child during school hours

Other events, such as the boiler breaking down or needing to take the dog to the vet, aren’t covered.

Remember too that this only applies to unexpected events and doesn’t include pre-arranged events, such as taking the person you care for to a pre-arranged medical appointment.

Protection from discrimination at work

The Equality Act has made it unlawful for employers to:

  • treat a job applicant or employee less favourably because of a disability
  • apply a workplace policy which applies unfavourably against employees with a disability
  • fail to make reasonable adjustments for employees with a disability
  • subject a job applicant or employee to harassment related to disability
  • victimise a job applicant or employee because they have made a complaint about disability discrimination

The Equality Act also protects job applicants and employees from associative discrimination. This means it is unlawful to subject a non-disabled person to direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of their association with a disabled person.

Getting expert advice

Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides free and confidential advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations.

Visit the advice and guidance section on the Acas website, or ask them a qustion via their online helpline.

Looking for work?

Not sure where to start?

If you need help to make a career decision, advice on how to write a CV or just need to talk to someone about your future, contact the National Careers Service. The service provides information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. The service is supported by qualified careers advisors. The helpline is 0800 100 900. If you are using a mobile they will call you back!

Help for carers

Work preparation support for carers provides help and support whilst you make a successful move into work, including access to training and advice on job hunting and applications.

You might be able to get help with the cost of replacement care while you take part in training or attend interviews. Visit their website to find out more.

Help to find flexible work

Timewise Jobs is an organisation which champions part-time and flexible work. They specialise in advertising vacancies across the country and in a wide range of sectors, for both part-time work and flexible hours/location. Through their website, you can also find tailored advice for carers, on how to find work to fit with your caring responsibilities, as well as guidance for those wishing to return to work after a break.

Ten2Two is a recruitment agency dealing only in flexible roles and part-time jobs. They’ve supported hundreds of highly skilled people fulfil their ambitions and needs through flexible working, often with part-time jobs or reduced hours. They will support you with career help and advice, as well as free local personal development events, including CV and interview workshops. Although their coverage is growing, they are currently based mainly in South and Central England.

Work experience & volunteering

There are many work experience and volunteering opportunities available. It could be something that only takes up a few hours a week, or runs for a set number of days or weeks. No matter the level of time commitment involved, this is a great way to gain new skills and add valuable experience to your CV.

The Do-it Trust and Reach Volunteering are both great sources of volunteering opportunities.

Working Links provide a range of specialist services, aimed at helping people to improve their skills and find fulfilling employment. If you are currently out of work, they may be able to help you access funded training and skills development programmes – including via their range of self-service online tools.

You can also contact your local Job Centre Plus to find out about opportunities that can improve your chances of finding work including work experience and work trials.