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Work and caring – what support can I get from employers?

Woman with her hand on the shoulder of another woman offering support

Talking to employers about support

Deciding to talk to an employer about caring can be daunting. But many people find that when they do, it can benefit them and their employer. Most employers are eager to support employees at work and may be able to provide support that you’re not aware of. You can find tips for talking about your caring role at work on Carers NI (external website) and nidirect (external website).

Flexibility at work can be one of the most important things when you’re caring for someone. Most types of work allow for some level of flexibility. Consider speaking to employers about what flexible options they could offer. Some types of work can allow for more flexibility than others. So, if you’ve explored all support options in your current role but need more help, you could look at different roles to see if they’re more flexible. You can get free and impartial advice about support you may expect from your employer from Law Centre Northern Ireland.

Support options

Here are some options you may want to discuss with employers.

Flexible working is a way of working that suits your needs and the business needs of an employer. For example, having flexible start and finish times, or working part-time. If you’re an employee and have worked for the same employer for a continuous period of 26 weeks, you can make a statutory request for flexible working. Find out more about the benefits of flexible working on Carers NI (external website)

Taking time off in emergencies – if you’re an employee (no matter how long you’ve been in employment), you’re allowed to take a reasonable amount of time off work for an emergency involving someone who depends on you for care. For example, if they have a fall and are hurt, or if other care support is cancelled suddenly and you need to step in. You should discuss with your employer whether any time you take off for an emergency will be paid. Find out more about time off for family and dependants on nidirect (external website).

Support networks and policies – your employer may offer extra support to help you at work. For example, some employers have support groups for employees who look after someone or may agree for you to take a career break. Ask your employer what they offer and check your employment contract and handbook (if you have one).

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