top of page

Balancing Work and Care

Caring duties don't stop when you're at work. Former union leader Sharon Elliott explains how your boss can help you cope

Three Generations

When our parents need us, we may try to cope by calling on favours from friends and family. especially when it comes to balancing things with the demands of work.

But sometimes that won't be enough and you may need to ask your employer for help. Don't be shy about asking. There are laws covering this.


Family emergencies

There is a statutory right to reasonable unpaid time off to deal with a family emergency. You don’t need to work for your employer for a minimum period of time to access this right; it exists from day one.

The emergency must be centred on parents, children, a spouse or partner and relate to sickness, accident, criminal injury, death, funerals, the absence of a carer for the family member or a serious issue at a child’s school.

The need to take time off should be communicated to your employer and you shouldn't suffer detriment for taking advantage of a statutory right.

Flexible Payment Planning

Flexible working

The right to request flexible working applies to all employees provided they have at least 26  weeks continuous service. You don't have to be a carer to make a request.

It’s important to stress that this law gives you the right to make the request but employers are not obliged to agree.They are obliged to listen to the case you put and treat the request in a "reasonable manner". 

Flexible working could mean part-time working, working from home, extended day working or even a sabbatical depending on the nature of the caring responsibilities you need to fulfil. Don’t rule anything out including the possibility of a trial.

Think creatively about the flexibility you need as you seek to maintain your commitment to your employer.
Some formalities apply to the right to request flexible working. For instance it must be in writing, state that it is a statutory request to work flexibly, specify the change requested and the start date, indicate what the impact of the request will have on the employer and how the employer might deal with this and confirm that no other request for flexible working has been made in the previous 12 months.

Your employer has to respond to such requests within three months and allow an appeal. The decision should be communicated in writing after discussions about the request have been held, either in person, or via another acceptable means of communication.

The employer can cite business reasons to justify any rejection of a request to work flexibly - for instance, extra costs, or worries about a possible negative impact on your ability to do your job. However whatever business reasons are given, your employer must explain why their reasons work against your request for flexible working.


The rules on flexible working change from time time. So make sure you keep up to date by checking the following websites.

bottom of page