This year, Carers Rights Day will be held on Thursday 25 November. It is a dedicated day to remind those already in a caring role what their rights are and what support is available. It also presents an opportunity to reach out to those who have recently started to look after someone who couldn’t manage without their support. They may be at the very start of their caring journey and possibly unaware of their rights, and where and how to access support.
Carers need to know their rights wherever they are in their caring journey: whether they are in the workplace, in a healthcare setting, when interacting with professionals or at home. This Carers Rights Day, we want to empower carers with information and support, so they can feel confident asking for what they need. We also want carers to know how to challenge things when their rights are not being met.
Carers have the Right to – a Carer’s Assessment
If you care for an adult and caring has a major impact on your life, you can talk to the adult social services department at your local council about the help you may need across all aspects of your life, including your work. You have the right to a Carer’s Assessment and if you haven’t been offered an assessment, please ensure you ask for one.
A Carer’s Assessment will ask you questions about your caring situation, the impact it has on your wellbeing and explain what support is available for you. You are entitled to a written copy of your Carer’s assessment. Find out more about eligibility, the process for applying for an assessment and the sorts of support that might be available to you – on Carers UK’s website or in this factsheet.
Carers have the Right to – be recognised as a Carer
There are occasions where Carers need to prove that they are a carer for someone, for example to gain free access to a venue with the person they provide care for. Carers may have to show evidence of this with a doctor’s letter or other official documentation. Rather than carrying around confidential paperwork, Forward Carers has developed the Carer Friendly Card including photo identification to prove a Carer’s identity.
The Carer Friendly Card (physical plastic card or virtual app on a smart phone) is a convenient way to prove your Carer status as well as benefiting from displaying your emergency contacts and access to hundreds of discounts. The Carer Friendly Card has been used by Carers to show their Carer status when their loved one was in hospital so that they could be involved in consultations and discharge. And other unpaid Carers have used it during lockdown to gain priority access to vulnerable shopping hours which included NHS workers. Find out more about the Carer Friendly Card here.
Carers have the Right to – a free flu jab
Did you know that Carers are entitled to a free flu jab? If you are the main Carer for someone who couldn’t manage without you and may be at risk if you became ill; you are eligible for a free flu jab. You are also eligible if you’re receiving Carer’s Allowance. If you feel this applies to you, you have the right to request one from your GP surgery or local pharmacist. Find out more.
To ensure you receive the flu vaccine every year, make sure you notify your GP practice that you look after someone vulnerable, and they will identify you as a Carer on your patient record and add you to their Carer’s Register.
Carers have the Right to – be included in hospital discharge planning
If you are an unpaid Carer and the person you care for is being discharged from hospital, the hospital must identify and consult with you, where possible. This is where our Carer Friendly Card comes in handy as the photo ID verifies your Carer status. A Carer knows the person they care for better than any medical professional, so it is only right that they are involved in consultations and hospital discharge.
Carers UK has useful information on the discharge procedure, discharge assessments and other important things to think about if the person you care for is in hospital.
Carers have the Right to – be protected against discrimination
If you look after an older or disabled person, the law – under the Equality Act 2010 – protects you against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities.
This is because you are counted as being ‘associated’ with someone who is protected by the law because of their age or disability. The Government has set out new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement for every employee in Britain. It will also introduce a day one right to one-week’s unpaid leave for Carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities.
Carers UK has information available that explains discrimination by association and harassment, which may be useful if you feel you have been treated unfairly because of your caring role. Forward Carers has information for employers and for Carers in the workplace that you might also find useful.
Carers have the Right to – request flexible working
Unpaid, or family, Carers make up 1 in 7 workers in the UK. Currently, 1 in 7 working Carers give up work or reduce their hours due to their caring role, and many others affected by poor wellbeing and stress.
Juggling work and care can be very challenging, so it’s important to understand the rights you have both in law and with your employer.
Your rights in work come from two sources:
- the law gives you ‘statutory rights’ which everyone has
- your contract of employment gives you ‘contractual rights’ which can be more generous than statutory rights.
If you’re looking for information on your rights or how to prepare yourself to discuss flexible working with your employer, Forward Carers has some useful tips here.
If you are an employer, it’s really important to take care of your workforce as many working Carers are aged 45 – 64 years old, these are likely to be the most senior and skilled staff. If you support them to balance their work and caring commitments there will be reduced absenteeism, increased staff productivity and a reduction of valuable staff leaving. You can find out more about the benefits of supporting Carers and how Forward Carers can help you do this here.