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Really need some advice please! - Carers UK Forum

Really need some advice please!

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
I have been a carer since I was a child and about 2 and a half years ago I started getting carers allowance. I also started work 3years ago and have never had a problem like this before...

I work one day a week and I had an agreement with my manager that because I'm a carer I didn't have to go to staff trainings and meetings as they are on a Sunday evening and I have both my disabled sister and my special needs brother that need help and I just can't make them. Anyway, a few days before Christmas he left and we got a new manager. I have explained to the new manager and the whole management team why I can't attend these meetings.

Today I had one of the deputy store managers tell me that the whole management team have had a meeting and decided that I have to go to them and if I decide not to go then I get a disaplinary and absence put on my record. I explained to them again about all the caring I have to do and that my mum can't do three children by herself, 2 of which have special needs and that I can't leave her to do it. But they still refuse to understand my situation.

I am 22 years old and have already been made to feel like I'm doing the wrong thing for being a registered carer by people I know, it really upsets me that I'm now starting to be treated differently at work.

PLEASE! Could you help me? I don't know what to do
Hi, and welcome!

This seems very harsh.
I wonder why, with modern technology, you are not allowed to attend the meetings through a Skype connection? This would constitute a 'reasonable adjustment' in law. And make no mistake about it, they are required to make reasonable adjustments, because you are affected by disability, as Sharon Coleman proved when she took her case as a carer to the European Courts. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/lega ... leman-case

My own company has regular virtual meetings using conference calls - in the past I have even taken part in these whilst driving to an assignment, using the hands-free bluetooth connection in my car.

I do suggest that you ask your local carers centre or citizens advice to provide you with advocacy and support taking this case forward.
Coleman v Attridge Law & Steve Law -The decision and its impact

Facts of the case

Sharon Coleman's son Oliver was born with a rare condition affecting his breathing and also has a hearing impairment. Ms Coleman brought a case claiming she was forced to resign from her job as a legal secretary after, she claims, being harassed by her employers and being refused flexible working which other employees were granted. Ms Coleman's case is that she was targeted because she has a child with a disability, and was denied flexible work arrangements offered to her colleagues without disabled children.

Since Ms Coleman's case relied on the application of European law (European Employment Framework Directive 2000/78/EC) to the Disability Discrimination Act, before deciding on the facts of her claim, the Employment Tribunal first asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to determine whether the Directive protects employees who are treated less favourably or harassed because of their association with a disabled person. In July 2008, the ECJ ruled that disability discrimination by association is unlawful in the workplace.

Ms Coleman's case went back to the Employment Tribunal on 30 September 2008 to decide whether the DDA as it is currently written covers associative discrimination or whether UK law will have to be amended to make it compliant with the Directive. The Tribunal's decision is expected soon.


Ms Coleman's victory before the European Court of Justice has ensured that the UK's disability discrimination law provides protection on the grounds of someone's association (including caring responsibilities) with a disabled person.
I have called head office and to be honest they don't seem like they know what to do. They said that this sort of thing is handled by each store differently and not as a whole company. They also said that my case is "unique"... I don't think it is unique at all, there are many carers who also work and I can be the only one in a company with over 100 stores all over the UK!

Thank you for your advice I will look into this.
Hi, a few thoughts -

From what I've read on other posts here, you are 'disabled by association' I believe, and then, as Scally points out, they have a legal duty to make a degree of compromise/adjustment/allowance (call it whatever you want!) or face charges of discrimination.

My first thought, though, was are you in a Union, and if not, then I would join one (probably Unison if you are in retail??) and get them 'on-side' (doesn't matter if they don't have official recognition at your company, you join as an individual, and you get their legal team to weigh in for you)(my union helped me significantly when I was made redundant, and the union rep was with me at every meeting with HR and my manager!) I'm sure union rep would be with you during any disciplinary hearings (should it come to that, which hopefully it won't!)

Secondly, no company with a nationwide reputation would welcome bad publicity! So any kind of news story about you in the local press (which may then get taken up by the national press) that says 'Carer of TWO disabled siblings threatened with the sack for not giving up her SUNDAY evenings for work!' will NOT go down well with their PR department! They will promptly appear heartless and cruel (and so they are!).

Finally, a letter to the company from an employment solicitor on your behalf may also work wonders.... (though you'd probably have to pay, alas?)

It also seems odd to me that on a matter that involves the issue of discrimination, that the company says there is NO 'company-wide' policy, and that it is left to individual store managers to determine. That sounds VERY sloppy to me!

It can be frightening to 'take on' the 'big boys' on your own (which is why I'm recommending you join a union - that's what they are for!), but it's a really, really valuble lifelesson you are having now, and learning to stick up for yourself. DO NOT do the 'easy' thing and resign or anything like that!

(You might also be so stressed by it all that your GP signs you off work if this is adversely affecting your health.)

It really doesn't say much for a company that has allowed what is a perfectly reasonable aspect of what is considered good management (getting loyal work from staff and not alienating them in petty power struggles just to make a middle manager feel good about themselves!!!), to get to this stage. Have you been a good and reliable and willing worker so far (rather than someone who bunks off whenever possible and does the least work for their money), because if so (and I hope you have!), now is the time to remind them of that! Good employes deserve good managers, and will work much harder for a good manager - bad managers get crap workers because they treat them badly!!!

All the best to you, Jenny
If you look under the help and advice section of CUK you'll find a subsection on work issues. Here's a link that you will find useful: https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advic ... y-act-2010
Your firm's human resources dept/person should know about this. A union rep will know their stuff and help tackle any issues with your employer.
Good luck!
Thank you everyone for your support. I will be looking back for a union to help with future issues. I spoke to my mum about it all and we called HR together and after being on the phone for a very long time with a women who had no idea what she was doing and kept asking me questions about if I could find someone to take over my responsibilities for a few hours on a Sunday evening and me standing my ground and saying no that's why I'm they're carer... She finally said that she would call the store and speak to them.... I waited about an hour and a half (I think she went to get more advice on the matter) she eventually called me back and said that my managers had agreed to train me during/ just after my shift.(which is what my old manager did anyway) she also said that they will talk to me on Thursday to discuss the issue.

I'm personally still really upset that this issue. I've had an issue before where a fellow college was 'slagging me off' to other workers (in front of my face without knowing) and also putting through unauthorised orders through on my account, but the manager sorted this out immediately before I had the chance to speak with him.

We have so many issues at the moment at work and this new manager is not addressing them so I'm not surprised that I had to enforce that I couldn't attend trainings, but I am surprised at just how far this had to go before i was able to resolve it.

Thanks again for all your support, I much appreciate it! :D