Help for carers and parents who work
For parents and carers, juggling work and home can be a difficult balancing act. TheSite finds out what options and support are available.
Is it possible to care for someone and work at the same time? If you get the right support you can.
Can I fit work around my parental/caring responsibilities?
- Have, or expect to have, parental responsibility for a child under 16, or a disabled child under 18
- Care, or expect to be caring, for an adult, including a non-relative who lives at your address
- You must be an employee, not an agency worker or member of the armed forces
- You must have worked for your employer for 26 weeks in a row
Anyone can ask for flexible working but if you fit these criteria, your employer is obliged to consider your request and can only reject it for a good business reason.
Employees can also take emergency time off if there's a sudden or unexpected problem relating to someone they look after. Your employer doesn't have to pay you for this time but they may choose to. They can't penalise or dismiss you for taking it.
What's the definition of a carer?
This doesn't refer to a paid worker but to someone who provides "regular and substantial care" for another person. This may be a relative or a friend, and could be due to them having a physical or mental illness, disability or because of their age.
I'm a carer. Will my local council help me?
Your local authority has a duty to assess your needs. The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 says they should:
- Tell carers they have the right to an assessment
- Consider carers' work, study and leisure interests
- Provide a written care plan
- Redo the assessment every year
I'm under 18, am I still entitled to a carer's assessment?
Yes. You should be offered an assessment as a 'child in need' and your work, education and leisure needs must be considered as part of this.
"These are cash payments to buy support services including help with your health and wellbeing, such as a holiday to give you time out."
What financial help is available for parents and carers?
Carers may get direct payments. These are cash payments to buy support services including help with your health and wellbeing, such as a holiday to give you time out. The amount depends on your individual assessment and won't affect other benefits.
If you're 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a person who receives certain disability benefits, you may get Carer's Allowance, which is currently £53.10 a week. You can't get this if you're in full-time education, or if you earn more than £95 a week (after deductions such as income tax).
Can carers get help to study?
Some colleges run courses especially for carers, and many provide discounts or help with course fees and transport costs. You may be entitled to funding, such as a Local Authority Carers Grant or Princess Royal Trust for Carers bursary.
You could also consider home study. For example the National Extension College provides home study courses and carers may be entitled to a discount.
How can I make sure I look after myself, too?
It's hard work looking after other people, so it's important to stay healthy and active by:
- Eating a balanced diet with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Exercising regularly to combat stress.
- Thinking about how you manage your time - would being more organised help you get more time to yourself?
- Letting friends and family know if you're stressed out. If you need someone else to talk to, organisations that support carers include Carers Trust, Young Carers and Carers UK, and help for parents includes Family lives.
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