Carers in employment

Caring is often a hidden issue in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be. Talking to your employer about your caring role could lead to better support in your workplace. However, it is up to you whether you tell your employer you are a carer and what information you share.

Seeking support 

Your employer might offer support to carers in your workplace. Talk to your employer or line manager about your caring role and ask what support is available to you. You may also want to check your company handbook, intranet, or speak with your HR department to ensure you are aware of your organisation’s carer policies and any internal carer support groups in your workplace

Your statutory rights

The right to request flexible working

The Work and Families Act 2006 gives carers the right to request flexible working. You have the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks continuous employment.

Flexible working patterns could include:

  • flexible starting and finishing hours
  • compressed hours
  • annualised working hours (e.g. hours are calculated over a year and you work some fixed shifts but have flexibility over some of your hours)
  • term-time working, job sharing or part-time working
  • homeworking
The right to time off in emergencies

All employees have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. Whether the time off is paid or not is up to your employer. This is a statutory right from the Work and Families Act 2006.

Protection from discrimination

Carers are protected from discrimination because of their role as a carer. The Equalities Act 2010 is applicable to carers because they are associated with the protected groups named in the Act.

Support from VOCAL for carers in employment

VOCAL offers tailored support for carers in employment. You can join in with training and events aimed specifically at carers who balance employment alongside caring for someone.

Working Carer Lunch Sessions

These informal sessions are a chance for carers to come together in a safe environment to discuss challenges, learn from others and seek support.

The sessions feature a different theme each month and each session features a short presentation and an interactive discussion.

Carers@Work Facebook group

This closed Facebook group is managed by VOCAL. We offer carers a chance to speak to other carers in Edinburgh and Midlothian. You can join the group by searching for Carers@Work on Facebook and requesting to join.

Training and events

VOCAL provides informative and social training and events on topics that carers may find interesting or relevant to their caring role. There is a range of dates and times available including evening and weekend courses. You can browse the programme, and register here.

Wee Breaks – Time off from caring

VOCAL’s short breaks service focuses on carers taking time for themselves to relax, recharge and unwind. Visit for help with planning a break and identifying funding. You can also find out about the free break opportunities which have been gifted by the hospitality and tourism sector.