Written by: Cally Worden
Carers are often unsung heroes, diligently providing an essential service to loved ones or friends. Juggling this commitment with the demands of normal work can be incredibly stressful. The good news is that there are statutory rights employers are obliged to offer to carers. Such support for carers at work can be invaluable, and it is worth having a chat with your manager or personnel department to find out how your employer can help. Here are some of the ways in which they may be able to make your life as a working carer easier.
Establishing a Support Group
Carers come in all shapes and sizes, but many individuals keep their out-of-work responsibilities private. Sometimes just sharing your experiences with someone who understands can help enormously, and you may be surprised just how many people within your workplace are in a similar position. Working with your employer to establish a workplace support group for carers can be a good way to establish contacts and find support.
Flexible Working Hours
Life does not always run smoothly, and a particularly challenge morning in your role as a carer can result in late arrival at work. The need to check on the person you care for during the day may also be necessary, as may the need to leave early on occasions. If your role as carer involves assisting another in attendance at medical appointments, then you may also periodically need time off during the day. Many employers will be able to offer flexible working hours to carers to accommodate such demands on your time, ensuring that you are able to complete your paid work while still fulfilling your role as carer. Early starts, late finishes and longer lunch breaks are all options that you can discuss with your employer.
Not all jobs are suitable for home working, but many are and it is always worth discussing this as an option with your employer. Even if it is only one day each week, or as the need arises, knowing that you have the option to complete your paid work in your own time and without the stress of commuting can be extraordinarily helpful.
Paid and Unpaid Leave
All employees have the right to take time off in an emergency, and many employers will also consider an extension of this right. This can allow you to take additional time off when you need it, without compromising your position. While this additional leave will often be unpaid, it offers the security of job retention.
Car Parking Accessibility
If finding a parking space near to work is a daily battle, talk to your employer and see if it is possible to have access to an allocated slot. It may seem like a little thing, but knowing that you can simply drive into work without the stress of securing a parking place can relieve a huge burden in some cases.
Carers can reach a point where the demands on their time outside of work become impossible to manage alongside their employment commitments. Many employers are open to the idea of staff taking a career break or a sabbatical. This would allow you to take time out from work for an extended period to concentrate on your caring role, secure in the knowledge that your job will remain open for you.
Caring for another person can place significant emotional and physical demands on an individual. And it is more prevalent than you may imagine. Many organisations want actively to help any employees in such a situation – ultimately it is in their best interests to help you be as fresh and alert as possible for work, and supporting you in caring role can play an important role in achieving that. Talk to your boss. Their response may surprise you.