Working 5 days a week

I am struggling to manage work, the home, and my husbands care and would like to ask my employer if they would let me do less days.  I just can't keep on top of his care, appointments, food, cleaning and so much more when trying to hold down a full time job.  Do you think it is an ok ask to reduce days to 3 days instead of 5 at least for a year?

  • Hi

    Thank you for contacting us here at Macmillan.  My name is Rachel and I am a Work Support Advisor on Macmillan’s National Support Line.

    I’m sorry to read that you are finding it difficult, combining working and ensuring your husband’s care needs are met.  It can be so hard striking the right balance between the two.  I’d like to give you some information which will help you understand what your rights at work are as a carer but also who you can speak to understand about how else you and your husband could be supported.  I hope that is ok.

    It will be useful for you to be aware that if you care for someone with cancer and are an employee, you do have some rights at work.  Our booklet Working Whilst Caring For Someone With Cancer provides more detail on this.

    Carers have the right to ask for flexible working, providing they have 26 weeks continuous employment and when the formal process is followed, carers have the right to make 1 request per annum and this will often mean a permanent contractual change. In this case, it might be that your employer agrees to allow you to reduce your hours, but on a permanent basis and therefore no guarantee that they will be able to accommodate you increasing them in the future.

    It may be possible to come to some sort of arrangement with your employer where your hours are reduced but that they will agree to increase those back to your normal hours after a period of time.    

    In both instances, is important to note that the employer does not have to agree to a flexible working request, whether informal or formal, if it adversely affects their organisation. 

    Carers also have the right to take a reasonable amount of time off for emergencies to deal with the person they are caring for (carers don't have a statutory right for this to be paid but may have a contractual one).  This type of time off does not cover planned appointments but is for those occasions where you might suddenly need to leave work to deal with your husband’s needs.  

    Some employers have a carers' policy (though they do not have to have one) which is more generous than the statutory minimum required by law.  It would be worthwhile asking whether your employer has such a policy.  If you are in a union, you could also contact them to understand how you could be supported.

    I would also like to make you aware that the Equality Act 2010, if you live in England, Scotland or Wales or Disability Discrimination Act 1995, if you live in Northern Ireland protects carers from discrimination by association, as the person they care for is disabled due to their diagnosis. 

    If your proposal to reduce your hours at work is accepted and this causes you any financial worry, or if you just want to explore what might be available to you, we do have a team of Welfare Rights Advisors who can help. The team can explore any welfare benefits or help towards costs which might be available to you and are available on 0808 808 0000, options 1, 2 and 2.  They can also be contacted via LiveChat and by Email.  Their opening hours are 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

    From your message, it sounds like you are managing all your husband’s care and I thought it might be useful for me to let you know that we have a team of Information and Support Advisors on our Support Line who can be contacted every day of the year between 8am and 8pm on 0808 808 0000, options 1, then 1 again.   They can help you explore any additional care support that might be available for your husband, as well as providing you with that all-important space to talk.  They can also advise on accessing emotional support, if you felt it would help you.

    I hope this has helped but please do contact us again if there is anything else we can help you with. You can either reply to this message, email us, or contact us on the Macmillan Support Line directly. We are available on webchat or via phone from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. To call us, our number is 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 2, then 3.


    Rachel, Work Support Advisor 

    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.