Carers in employment

Over 250,000 carers combine their caring role with paid employment. One in five of all carers have given up work to care and for those with caring responsibilities of more than 50 hours each week, more than half have given up employment to care.

Seeking support in the workplace

Employers value skilled, experienced and committed members of staff and are keen to keep them. Your employer may be able to help in ways you have not considered. Talk to them about your situation, directly or through your HR/personnel officer or union or staff association representative.

Before you decide to speak to your employer, you should find out more about your employer’s policy for supporting carers. If you decide to leave work, make sure you check all your options before you resign, for example can you could take a career break, voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

Flexible working

The Work and Families Act 2006 gives carers of adults the right to request flexible working, building on the existing rights which were introduced in April 2003 for parents of a disabled child under 18.
You have the right to request flexible working if you are an employee with 26 weeks continuous employment with that employer at the date you make the application and you are:

  • a parent with a child under 6 or a disabled child under 18 or
  • a carer – to qualify as a carer under the legislation, you must be, or expect to be, caring for a spouse, partner (who you live with), civil partner or relative, or live at the same address as the adult in need of care.

Flexible working patterns could include:

  • flexible starting and finishing hours
  • compressed working hours
  • annualised working hours (eg. 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 and teleworking

You have the right to make one application per year and you are not required to prove the caring relationship but it may help your application to provide as much information as possible. The request for flexible working should be made in writing (your employer may have a standard form) and include the date of application, confirmation that you are eligible, an outline of the working pattern you would like, the date you would like to start the proposed change and details of any previous requests. You should also outline any effects the change would have on your job.

The right to time off in emergencies

All employees 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 at the discretion of the

Parental leave

If you have one year of service you are entitled to 13 weeks parental leave to care for a child and 18 weeks for a disabled child who receives Disability Living Allowance and is under 18. Leave can be taken in blocks of one week up to a maximum of 4 weeks leave in a year (for each child). It can be taken in single or multiple days if the leave is to care for a disabled child.


Carers@Work is a private Facebook group managed by VOCAL – Voice of Carers Across Lothian for people who work and also have caring responsibilities. The group is aimed at unpaid carers in Edinburgh and the Lothians who are also employed either full or part-time, or who are self-employed.
How To Register
Membership of the group is by invitation. Interested carers should:

  1. Visit and like the VOCAL’s Edinburgh and/or Midlothian Facebook pages
  2. email requesting membership, please remember to include your Facebook credentials

Need more information about employment issues?

If you are unsure about your employment rights as a carer or would like support in dealing with these issues, please contact the VOCAL carer support team or download the factsheet below.
Contact VOCAL