Carer status - Flexible Work Rights

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HI there,

My husband will start treatment for Cancer in a few weeks (for 3 months of treatment in total, then surgery).

My current place of work are changing their flexible working policy from April to full time in the office. I currently work full time from home and have done so for over 7 months, with a flexible working arrangement for a year before that. This has helped immensely with my husbands health issue (as well as mental health issues we are still awaiting to be officially diagnosed).

With this new policy, I'm worried going into the office every day will put my husband at risk of becoming unwell while going through treatment. And also after he finishes his treatment and his immune system adjusts yet again.

My first question if that's ok -  Am I able to apply to officially be his carer? What would I need to prove this? I believe there are laws in place to protect unpaid carers (The Care Act) which I think also means I have the right to ask my employer if I can continue to work from home.

My second question is - I believe because I live with someone (associated) who has a disability (cancer) that I am also protected under The Equality Act 2010. What would I need to provide to my employer to secure that I can continue to work from home while looking after my husband? Which would more than likely be for the foreseeable future.

Thank you so much for getting back to me and helping clarify the situation.

  • Dear MrsBDB

    Thank you for your question. My name is Rizwana, and I am a Work Support Adviser on the Macmillan Support Line. It sounds like you have done well over  the past 7 months to balance your  work whilst caring for your husband.

    The Care Act 2014 provides adult carers of adults the right to support and protection from your local authority. The primary way to get this support is through a Carer’s Assessment and I would encourage you to contact your local authority for further information. Your GP may also be able to make a referral for a carers’ assessment.

    Carer’s Trust operates a network of local carer organisations who may offer emotional and practical support to you. Further information can be found on their website   https://carers.org/our-networks/the-carers-trust-network.

    You may also refer to our booklet ‘Looking after Someone with Cancer’ Looking after someone with cancer (macmillan.org.uk)

    With regards to work, you are already aware that you have a statutory right to formally request flexible working after 26 weeks continuous service.  Are you able to make a further request?  The process is to request once in a 12-month period. Your employer must consider the request in a fair way, and they may have a specific form to complete. If your employer does not agree with the request, there should be an opportunity to appeal or to take the complaint further. However, there is no right to flexible working, and it can be rejected for business reasons. When an employer agrees to the request the terms and conditions of the employment should be changed.

    Further information can be found about the this on the ACAS website: https://www.acas.org.uk/making-a-flexible-working-request

    You may also refer to the Working Families Template Letter when making the request  https://workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/flexible-working-a-guide-for-employees/

    I do understand your worry  about returning to the office and the potential risk to your husband. Your employer has a duty of care, and I  would urge you to speak to them about your situation.  You may also ask your GP to support your request to continue to work from home on a fit note that could state ‘stress related to caring responsibilities’.  If you have a health problem related to your care responsibilities, you could  ask your GP to support your request to continue to work from home on a fit note as a reasonable adjustment. The fit note could state ‘stress related to caring responsibilities’.  

    It is worthwhile for you to find out if your employer has a Carer’s Policy and your options with regards to taking paid or unpaid leave, compassionate leave, borrowing holiday days from the next year or buying additional days.

    You also have a legal right to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with an emergency for your husband. This would not normally apply to planned hospital appointments. Your employer has no obligation to pay you for time off unless stated in the employment contract. Please refer to the following Carers UK website for further information:

    https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/work-and-career/other-rights-at-work/time-off-in-emergencies

    As you are caring for somebody who is classed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010, you also have protection from discrimination by association. This means that your employer should not treat you less favourably because of your caring duties. You may wish to refer to our booklet ‘Working While caring for someone with Cancer’ for further information Working while caring for someone with cancer (macmillan.org.uk)

    Are you a member of a trade union? They could provide some support for you if needed. 

    Rizwana

    Work Support Adviser

  • Thank you so much for this information! It's very helpful.