Carers Rights Day is on Thursday 23 November 2023 and is a national campaign that aims to

  • ensure carers are aware of their rights
  • let carers know where to get help and support
  • raise awareness of the needs of carers.

Carers need to know their rights wherever they are in their caring journey and regardless of setting; be that in the workplace, in accessing healthcare, when interacting with professionals or at home. This year we want to empower carers with information and support, so they can feel confident asking for what they need and can challenge things when their rights are not being met.

A big 'thank you' to Irwin Mitchell Solicitors in Sheffield for providing the details about the Carers Rights listed below.

Your Rights Now: 

1: The right to request flexible working

Flexible working requests are requests to change working hours, times of work, or place of work. Non-agency employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service can make a statutory request for flexible working once every 12 months. Employers have to rely on one of 8 grounds to refuse a request. 

Anyone can make a non-statutory request for flexible working. An employer cannot refuse on grounds that are discriminatory or amount to a fundamental breach of contract entitling you to resign (“constructive dismissal). An employer can only turn down a request if there’s a valid business reason.

2: The right to ask your GP practice to identify you as a carer

You have the right to be identified as a carer by your GP practice. Informing your GP practice about your carer status is important as it can enable the surgery to recommend available support, services, and information. 

In order to register your role as a carer, you can ask the surgery for “GP Carer Registration Form” and hand it to the receptionist. Alternatively, Carers UK have a helpful letter template here.

3: The right to request a free flu jab

The flu is an infectious virus that can lead to serious complications. The flu vaccination is a safe and effective way to help protect those who are most at risk. If you are in receipt of a Carer’s Allowance, or if you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, you are eligible for a free flu jab on the NHS from your GP surgery, or local community pharmacy. To get the flu vaccine:

  • Contact your GP surgery to book an appointment 
  • Identify a pharmacy that offers NHS flu vaccinations (if you're aged 18 or over)
  • Book a flu vaccination appointment on the NHS App (if you're aged 18 or over)

4: The right to protection against discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities (Equality Act 2010)

It is unlawful for you to be harassed or treated less favourably because you are caring for an elderly or disabled person. This is because you are counted as being 'associated' with someone who is protected by the law because of their age or disability. Examples of unlawful discrimination include:

  • An employer refuses to offer you a job because of your caring responsibilities. 
  • You’re given a worse service than someone who isn’t caring for a disabled person. 

More information is found on the Carers UK website.

5: The right to have a Carer’s Assessment

Where it appears to a local authority that a carer may have needs for support, whether currently or in the future, the local authority must carry out an assessment of those needs. The assessment should be carried out regardless of the level of the carer’s needs for support, and regardless of the carer’s (or the disabled adult’s) financial resources. The local authority should provide necessary support to address any eligible needs following a financial assessment.

More information can be found on the Sheffield Carers Centre website, Carers UK website and NHS website.

There are specific rights for carers under the age of 18 to have a ‘young carer’s assessment’. More information on the rights of young carers is available on the Sheffield City Council website and NHS website.

Parents carers of children under 18 have standalone rights for their support needs to be assessed under the Children and Families Act 2014. Sheffield City Council also offers Short Break Grants.

6: The right if the person you care for is being discharged from hospital, the hospital must identify and consult with you

Where the NHS trust considers that a person you care for is likely to require care and support following discharge from hospital, the NHS trust must take any steps that it considers appropriate to involve you and the patient, as soon as it is feasible after it begins making any discharge plans.

The legislation that introduced this requirement in 2022 removed Schedule 3 of the Care Act 2014 which required local authorities to carry out long-term health and care needs assessments, in relevant circumstances, before a patient was discharged from hospital. Government guidance on this topic is found here.

7: The right to time off to deal with an emergency involving someone who depends on you for care

You are entitled to take reasonable time off work to deal with unexpected problems or emergencies with close family members, or other people who depend on you. This is sometimes called ‘dependent leave’. It is not for things you knew about in advance, like a planned hospital appointment or taking the person you care for to a routine appointment.

You won’t usually be paid (but check your contract of employment as some employers may pay their employees in this situation). The government website gives more information about taking time off in an emergency.

Your Rights in the future:

1: Carers will have the legal right to request up to five days unpaid leave

Eligible carers are expected to have a “day one” right to up to 5 days per year of unpaid leave.
Carers will be eligible if the person they care for:

  • Is a “dependent”, including any person who reasonably relies on you for care.
  • Has a “long-term care need”, i.e. an illness or injury likely to require care for more than three months or issues related to old age.

Carers are expected to need to give notice of twice the requested period of leave plus one day, and employers are expected to be able to postpone, but not deny, a request for carer’s leave.

These rights under the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 are expected to become law at some point in 2024. The fine detail of the rights is yet to be confirmed.

2: Carers will have the right to ask their employer for changes to their working hours, times of work, or place of work, from day one

The Government has promised the statutory right to request flexible working (see above) will be extended to:

  • all employees, from day one (you currently need 26 weeks’ continuous service)
  • twice a year (currently once a year)
  • add a requirement for the employer to consult the employee before rejecting a request, and
  • reduce the employer’s decision period from 3 months to 2.

This is expected to become law in July/August 2024.