As a carer of someone with an incurable illness, you have legal rights to protect you from discrimination at work. You may find that continuing to work is important to you as it gives you a sense of normality and routine, but you might need to reduce your hours or request flexible working. On the other hand, you may decide to stop working altogether to care full-time.

Whatever you decide is right for you, here are some things to be aware of.

Legal rights at work

Check your work policies and contract, which should include information on time off for emergencies and compassionate leave:

  • Emergencies: you are entitled to take reasonable time off work to deal with unexpected problems or emergencies with close family members, or other people who depend on you. It’s not for things you knew about in advance, such as a planned hospital appointment. Tell your employer as soon as possible how much time you’ll need so that it can be agreed. They may pay you for your time off, but they don’t have to.
  • Compassionate leave: this is something that your employer may offer and include in your contract. Under certain circumstances you will be granted paid or unpaid leave if a family member or friend is very ill or you are bereaved.
  • Flexible working: this could include working part time, working compressed hours or having a flexible start and finish time. if you have been working continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks you have the right to ask for flexible working. However, your employer doesn’t have to agree if, for example, it has an impact on other staff. Carers UK  has a section about the formal process on their website.

Protection from discrimination, harassment and victimisation

People with an incurable illness are protected from discrimination at work by the Equality Act 2010 in England. If you’re regularly caring for a family member or friend with an incurable illness, you have rights ‘by association’.

Your employer cannot treat you unfairly because of your family member or friend’s condition. For example, it would be unlawful if your employer said you’re not suitable for promotion because you care for someone with an uncurable illness.

If you think you are being treated unfairly, check your company’s complaints policy. If you are then having trouble resolving the issue, go to the Equality Advisory and Support Service .

Related pages

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