Carers’ rights

Many carers are unaware of their rights and entitlements, therefore missing out on the financial, practical and emotional support available to them. Some of the key policy, rights and legislation affecting carers are detailed below.

For information about benefits and financial entitlements for carers, visit the Managing Money section.

Carers’ rights in Scotland

The Carers’ (Scotland) Act 2016 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 4th February 2016. It extends the rights of adult and young carers in Scotland, placing a duty on local authorities to provide every carer with a carer support plan and to provide support to all carers who are eligible. The Act is now in effect and local authorities are still consulting some aspects including hospital discharge and local eligibility criteria.

The Act provides for:

  • A new right for carers to receive an Adult Carer Support Plan (ACSP) or Young Carer Statement (YCS), setting out their personal outcomes, identified needs and the support to be provided to meet these needs. The adult carer support plan must also contain information about whether a carer has an emergency plan in place.
  • A duty for local councils to provide support to carers, based on their needs which meet the local eligibility criteria. They also have a power to provide information and support through local organisations to meet carers’ needs.
  • A requirement for local councils to establish and maintain an information and advice service for carers. They must also publish and review a short breaks services statement.
  • A duty for local councils and health boards to ‘take such steps as they consider appropriate’ to involve carers and carer representatives in the planning and evaluation of services that support carers, including the preparation of the local carer strategy.
  • A requirement for the responsible local authority to consider support in the form of a break from caring, and the desirability of breaks from caring provided on a planned basis.
  • A duty on health boards to inform the carer and to invite their views before a cared-for person is discharged from hospital. These must be taken into account before the discharge of the cared-for person.

Other legislation relating to carers’ rights

  • Scotland’s carer strategy (2010) was launched and for the first time recognised carers as equal partners in care.
  • Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002
  • Carer(Recognition and Services) Act 1995

Carers and employment

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. Carers in employment now have more statutory rights to help them manage their work and caring responsibilities. Find out more in the Carers in employment section.

Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003

The Act states that the rights and views of carers must be taken into consideration as much as possible when any decisions about the service user’s care and treatment are made. Anyone involved in the care and treatment of the person using mental health services must provide carers with the information they need to provide effective care. A carer may not receive information that the service user does not want to share.
For more details of carers’ rights and the role of a named person under the Mental Health Act (2003) contact the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland:

Equalities Act (2010)

The Equalities Act (2010) brought new legislation to protect carers from direct discrimination or harassment because of their caring responsibilities.
For more information contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS):