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Returning to work whilst caring for someone

Our guest blog is from Siobhan Goodchild, an experienced HR consultant.

Siobhan owns Face2FaceHR Camberley and provides practical and affordable HR advice to small businesses and charities.

Some carers may eventually look to return to work. This may bring challenges to caring responsibilities, or carers may be worried about the increased risk of spreading the virus to those they're caring for.

Below are some of the main questions we saw from carers and my responses will offer some helpful information and practical tips on how to approach these challenges with employers.

What to tell your employer

If you are working, you should also let your employer know that you are caring for someone. Even an informal chat with your line manager and colleagues can help.

Your employer may also have policies in place to support carers in the workplace, this could include a carers network or additional leave. Ask about their carers’ policy and wellbeing support.

Carer's leave

It is also worth staying up to date with the new rights for employees to take carer's leave. Such as who can take carer's leave, how long it is and what the requirements for booking carer's leave are.

I’m currently working and caring for someone and really need to reduce my hours?

All employees have the right to request flexible working after they have been employed with the same employer for 26 weeks.

You should not have already made a flexible working request in the previous 12 months. However, I would expect in these circumstances that most reasonable employers would at least consider another request.

When making a flexible working request it’s important to think about the challenges that this might present to your employer and think about how these can be overcome. They will be far more open to accommodating your request if you can show in advance how the impact on the business will be minimised.

Don’t be afraid to make suggestions yourself about how your work might be covered, what is a priority and what might be able to be put on hold for the short-term.

It’s also worth noting that if your flexible working request is approved, this will be a permanent change to your contract. If you’re only looking for a temporary reduction in hours, make this clear when you make the request so that it can be put in place on a temporary basis rather than a permanent one.

Communication is key

The final thing to say is that communication is key. Make sure you talk to your employer about the challenges that you face and what support you might need on a regular basis. You are far more likely to get their support if they know exactly what you need.

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