Carers Rights at Work, advice urgently needed please

Hi I am new to this site. I have received a letter today from my employer saying I have a disciplinary meeting on Friday. It doesn’t state what it’s about. I am assuming it is for my lateness.

I am a carer for my wife who has chronic depression, OCD and dilusional thoughts. She can not be left alone at home so I have to wait for my 22 year old son to come home from work before I can leave. Sometimes he is delayed by traffic work etc. So I am late for my work. I have been trying my best for 7 years but it’s taking a toll on me now.

If anyone can advise me about what to say on Friday it would be a great help. I have worked there for 9 years but the company was taking over 7 months ago. Thank you.

Look up “disabled by association Coleman case”

What you really need though is for social services to do a Needs Assessment for your wife, and a Carers Assessment for you, so that someone can provide care in the “gap”.

If your employers try to force you to leave, remind them that they have a duty to make “reasonable adjustments”. Do they know that your wife is disabled?

Hi Kevin … welcome to the canteen.

My first thought … local union representative … what’s the union’s policy on support for working carers ?

Quite a bit on the Internet on employer / working carers relationships … one of the better ones :


**_Productivity, attendance and stress levels can suffer when employees are juggling the demands of work and care. During Carers Week (9-15 June 2014), employers should consider looking at how they manage this against the competing needs of other employees and the business.

  1. How to define a carer ?

    Your employee is a carer if they look after a child, relative, partner or friend who needs help because of their age, illness or disability. Many carers do not identify themselves as such; they are “just” family or the partner. The term “carer” is, however, important in a legal context as it affords employees certain rights and protections at work.
  2. Do employees have to tell you they are a carer ?

    Carers have the same rights as other employees to privacy and confidentiality. They do not have to inform you about their caring obligations. They may be reluctant to tell anyone for fear of being stigmatised or stereotyped. Much will depend upon their role, but they should at least inform HR and their line manager. Employers owe a duty of trust and confidence to employees. You need to create a safe environment to encourage employees to be open with you, so that you can support and manage their work arrangements. Key to this is ensuring that you have appropriate controls in place under the Data Protection Act 1998 to keep their personal information secure and not process it without their consent.
  3. Do carers have the right to time off work ?

    Currently there is no legal right to “carer’s leave”. Many employees resort to using their holiday or take sick leave if the stresses of working and caring affects their own health. To avoid this situation some employers do provide paid/unpaid leave and/or career breaks or sabbaticals for the long term. Paid carers leave is very much on the campaign agenda for carer charities.

    If the employee cares for a child then they may be entitled to parental leave. Employees with one year’s continuous service can claim 18 weeks’ unpaid leave up to the child’s fifth birthday or 18th birthday if the child is disabled. From 2015 this extends to all children up to 18. The Trade Union Congress is also campaigning for “grandparents’ leave” on similar terms.
  4. What about emergency leave ?

    Employees have the right to unpaid time off for families and dependants. They can request reasonable time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. It has to be a genuine emergency to “arrange” and not to “provide” care. A “dependant” is a partner, relative or someone dependant on the employee. Some employers offer paid compassionate leave in these circumstances.
  5. Do carers have the right to work flexibly ?

    From 30 June 2014, all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment will be able to request flexible working. This will, however, remain a right to request only. Employers can reject the request for sound business reasons. Currently, to qualify, employees must also be a parent with a child under 17, a disabled child under 18, or a carer for a partner, relative, adult who lives with them. Flexible working covers flexible starting/finishing, part-time and compressed hours, term-time and home working or job sharing.
  6. Can I performance manage or discipline a carer ?

    Carers are not exempt from being performance managed or disciplined. However, you have a duty to support employees in meeting performance levels. If you pile on the work, or view carers in a stereotypical way as to their motivation or commitment, or you take disciplinary action without making allowances for the employee’s caring obligations, then you could be at risk of a grievance and ultimately a constructive or unfair dismissal, discrimination or even a stress-related claim. Employees must ordinarily have two years’ continuous employment (as of April 2012) to bring a claim for unfair dismissal, but no qualifying service is required to bring a discrimination claim or a stress claim.
  7. What about carers and redundancy ?

    Carers do not enjoy special protection from redundancy. An employee cannot, however, be selected for redundancy because they are a carer. There must be a genuine redundancy, a proper process followed and objective selection criteria applied where a pool of employees is being considered. If an employee is selected because of a dip in their attendance or productivity due to caring obligations they could have a potential claim for unfair dismissal or discrimination.
  8. Are carers protected from discrimination ?

    Being a carer is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. However, a protected characteristic such as sex could afford protection. For example, a single mother works part time because of childcare and is selected for redundancy because she is a part-time employee. This could be indirect sex discrimination.

    Even if a carer does not have this protection, they are protected from direct discrimination and/or harassment if they are treated less favourably because of their association with someone who has a protected characteristic. A recent example is the case of Price v Action-Tec Services Ltd where an employer told the employee “if I had known about your husband’s illness I wouldn’t have taken you on”. Her subsequent dismissal was found to have been discriminatory because of her husband’s disability, cancer.

    Harassment could arise where a carer is subjected to inappropriate emails or cold-shouldered. Carers might also be protected from victimisation where an employer subjects the carer to a detriment because of a “protected act” such as raising a grievance alleging discriminatory treatment. There is, however, no duty for employers to make reasonable adjustments for carers of a disabled person.
  9. What about health and safety ?

    Employers must provide a safe system of work. In addition to Health and Safety legislative requirements, you have a duty under the employee’s employment contract to exercise reasonable care to prevent personal injury, which extends to preventing stress or bullying at work.
  10. What can I do to protect employees and my business ?:

    “Care proof” your policies and procedures. Consider putting in place a carer’s policy or adapt your equal opportunities policy to expressly cover carers.
    Make this part of your equality training, particularly for line managers.
    Consider paid/unpaid leave to cover intensive periods of care or career breaks or sabbaticals as an alternative to the carer using up holiday, taking sick leave or having to give up work.
    Monitor work levels and carry out a risk assessment where appropriate.
    Consider whether an employee assistance programme, counselling or occupational health support can be offered to help the employee balance work and care.

    Jackie Cuneen
    Jackie Cuneen is a partner at Machins Solicitors LLP._** >

    Hopefully , there’s enough meat in the above to assist.

Thank you for replying I really appreciate it. I haven’t told my employer that my wife is Ill and I’m her carer. I suppose I keep my private life to myself. I was afraid they would look at me differently. I don’t look for help I try and do it on my own and my son who is amazing. Guess I have been forced to tell them now. Thanks for all the advice .

Your welcome.

Not unusual for a male working carer to keep the caring aspect to himself … the dreaded " Male pride " again … nothing wrong in that , it’s in our dna !!!

Let us know how things pan out.

You DO need to arrange for appropriate help at home.
It’s not really fair on your son, there are too many people here who have had their own lives severely limited by the expectations of parents.

Bowlingbun as soon as Friday is over I am looking into getting outside help. My son didn’t want us to get outside help, but I will do it for his sake. My kids are my world I would never make them do anything that they don’t want to do.

Even if there isn’t time to join a union, check out what the union sites say about disciplinary hearings, and mug up as much as possible on the internet as to what your rights are (Is there a union where you work by the way??)

I would urge you to tell them you are there to ‘hear what they say’…NOT to give any assurances or undertakings etc.

Does your wife get ANY medical attention (ie, is she known to the GP for mental illness, or she hiding that from them). Is she getting ANY ‘mental illness related benefits’…this is to ‘prove’ that she is ill and you are not ‘making it up’ for your employer etc.

Do not lose your cool, or your nerve - do not please resign or accept any redundancy package if they are trying to get rid of you. There are procedures they MUST follow to discipline or sack you.

Do NOT ‘trust’ the HR department! However ‘nice’ they are to you they act ONLY on behalf of the employer, NOT YOU.

Kevin, the ‘good’ outcome of this hearing looks like it’s going to be that you finally ‘take action’ in respect of your wife. And that is really, really good.

IS she with her GP on this? Does she take any medication? Has she been to therapy, etc etc etc.

She must not ‘hide’ her problems - that gets none of you anywhere except a mess. Those with MI often try and ‘stay low’ as they don’t trust doctors, or think there is anything that can be done, and they just want ‘family’ to ‘look after them’.

That isn’t fair on your son, you or even your wife - MI has a ‘mind of its own’ in many ways and ‘likies’ being ill - it gets them a lot of attention and they don’t have to do things they don’t like! (This isn’t ‘her’ it’s the illness!)

When did she get so ill do you think? Why??

MI can ‘control’ whole families, as it is controlling yours (my mum’s MI controlled my family growing up, my niece’s controls her family)…this must not be allowed.

When you say ‘she can’t be left on her own’ …do you mean that she just doen’st like being left on her own (she becomes unhappy or fearful etc), or that she becomes a danger to herself (suicide attempts etc).

There is a vital difference!

When supporting someone with MI it’s vital to distinguish between ‘support’ which focusses on rthe person GETTIGN BETTER…and mere ‘enablement’ which allows them to stay in the same state …NOT GOOD.

However much you and yoru son loe her, you must think of what is GOOD for her…which is to GET BETTER (not necessarly totally ‘well’ but a lot better than she is!)…just ‘keeping her the way she is’ is not good for her, and it’s disastrous for you (lead you where you are now, with a disciplinary hearing!) and of course it is destroying your son’s life, and that is absolutely not on.

So, use this ‘crisis’ now, of the disciplinary hearing, to really face up to the situation, sort out proper help for your wife, and improve her life, and yours, and, most of all,your son’s!

Hi Jenny thanks for your posts. My wife has had depression since she was 18 she’s now 47. She had an abusive and neglectful childhood. She is amazing to be here living really for what she had been through. 7 years ago she was attacked by 2 males as she was walking home from work. This trauma has caused her to go downhill have OCD anxiety etc. She is getting help from the community mental health team and her GP. She is afraid of being alone as she has visions that the men are going to walk through the door and attack her. She thinks she is contaminated with something bad and is scared she will pass it on to other people. She’s done mindful classes and CBT. She is doing everything she can to get well. She is an amazing wife, mother and Grandma. I’m just praying she gets well again.

There is no union where I work. I will look now at the things you said for advice. Thank you

Kevin, glad your poor wife is ‘in treatment’…

how did the meeting at work go???

Hi Jenny it went ok I remained calm. It was about my lateness as I thought. I mentioned my wife and that I am her carer and have been struggling. He was sympathetic and said I should of told them earlier about it. I have requested Flexi time which would work that if I’m late I make the time up at the end of my shift. I probably will have a mark on my record for being late.

Unfortunately I won’t hear about the outcome for 2 weeks as the person is on holiday. I managed to get other things that have been getting me down. Colleagues who are trying to make me leave. But I won’t leave because of them.

Fingers crossed things go ok :crossed_fingers::crossed_fingers:

Kevin - it’s a relief they were sympathetic, and you now are ‘officilaly’ in their eyes someone with home life difficulties - that has to be good. But who are the colleagues wanting shot of you ,and why???

The trouble is, if they are the ones who have to ‘pick up the slack’ for your lateness (ie, do the work you aren’t there to do??) then their cause is justified in that respect at least - can you make it up to them at all, or at least show willing?

As for your poor wife, may I say the following - if she lets her own life be as blighted as it is, then her attackers and abusers have WON.

Please let her think on that. The more unhappy and anxious and fearful she is, the more ‘victory’ to them…