Carers leave


i worked for my employment for 5 years, it’s a very big retailer in UK.  I was put on furlough in March this was until the end if June but extended until 31 October. 
At the beginning of March my brother was diagnosed with bladder cancer and it was at a advanced stage when treatment started, he’s had a operation to break down the cancer and 40 treatments of Radiotherapy & weekly chemotherapy, and has been very unwell 

I was contacted by my employee and asked to return at the end of July, I asked due to the carers responsibility I have I asked if I could stay on furlough or take unpaid carers leave until the end of September this would of given me the time to look after my brother and chemotherapy & radiotherapy would of ended hopefully and I could see how my brother responded to treatment.

i also take care of my mother who is 89 and has been very unwell and is unable to leave her house, she suffers from vergio and is unstable on her feet, and is deat

My employee holds a carers policy that states you can take up to 9 months off if needed, I asked if I could have unpaid leave and was rejected and told I need to return or resign.

i had to leave my job of 5 years because I could not look after my brother and hold onto my job, I’ve became stressed and depressed my this, also there is still other employee that are still on furlough until 31 October, and they have no responsibility’s for anyone and have contacted me asking why I left my job, and they are getting paid to stay at home 

Have I made the right or wrong decision 

  • Hi ,

    Thank you for contacting us on the Work Support Team and I am so sorry that you have had to leave your job due to the options presented to you whilst caring not only for your brother but also your mother. It sounds like an incredibly difficult time for you.

    Unfortunately, it falls outside our remit to tell you whether you have made the right or wrong decision. What I can do is advise you on your rights as a carer as those rights may be helpful to know about in any future employment.

    As your brother has a cancer diagnosis, he is considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This means that he should neither be discriminated against because of his cancer nor treated less favourably because of it. This protection is lifelong and does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis.

    Under Equality legislation carers also have some protection against discrimination “by association” with a disabled person. Here is a link to our booklet “Working while caring for someone with cancer” which explains more about this and carers options.

    You mention in your query that you were able to obtain a copy of your employer’s policy for carers and that this stated the possibility of 9 months’ carers’ leave. I cannot tell from your question whether this is the same as the unpaid leave that you asked for or not. If this 9 months’ leave is what you were turned down for your employer should have given a reason as to why your request was declined and ideally, an opportunity to appeal the decision (if the policy says that this is the case). The employer should not treat somebody who is associated to a cancer patient less favourably compared to other employees without the same association.

    In your question you explained that you were put on to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) which you asked to be extended. This is something that you had every right to do but, ultimately, it is up to each employer as to whether they agree to this. It sounds as though your employer refused your request and gave you the options of returning to work or handing in your resignation. An employer is within their rights to ask an employee to return after a period of furlough and there may have been limited options available as an alternative.

    If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your association to a disabled person then you should seek further advice. If you were dismissed by your employer, then you would need to ensure that your claim to Employment Tribunal is submitted within 3 months less one day of your dismissal. If you resigned because your employer forced you to leave your job against your will because of their conduct then this could potentially be constructive dismissal if you have at least two years’ service, please see this link here for further information. The same time limits to tribunal apply for constructive dismissal. If you are a member of a trade union you may want to ask your representative for support, alternatively you can contact us on the Work Support team on 0808 808 00 00 using the options detailed below or contact us by email.

    People who are on a low income and are considering taking a case of discrimination to an Employment Tribunal may qualify for legal aid. To check on eligibility and how to apply ring the Civil Legal Advice line on 0345 345 43 45 or access the GOV.UK website on:  

    As you are no longer in employment it may be beneficial to speak with the financial side of our Money and Work team who can ensure you are receiving all the financial support to which you are entitled. Again, the team is available on 0808 808 0000. See below for options and opening times.

    • Welfare Rights advisors: Monday to Friday, from 8am until 8pm and Saturdays and Sundays between 9am and 5pm selecting option 1, then 2, then 2.
    • Work Support advisors: Monday to Friday, from 8am until 6pm selecting option 1, then 2, then 3.

    The Equality Act also covers recruitment and therefore you have the same protection when applying for work in the future.

    I hope you find this information helpful to your situation if you need further support please do not hesitate to contact us again.

    Work Support Adviser
    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.