Your rights: today, tomorrow and in the future
Carers Rights Day was held on Thursday 23 November 2023.
Each year Carers UK promotes Carers Rights Day where we’re joined by hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals raising awareness of caring, helping to identify carers and signposting them to information, advice and support.
Whether someone has recently become a carer, realised they have been caring for a while without support or has been caring for someone for many years, it’s important they understand their rights and are able to access the support that is available to them whenever they need it.
Carers Rights Day empowers carers with information and support. It helps them to feel confident asking for what they need and challenge things when their rights are not being met, whether that be that in the workplace or education, in accessing health or social care, when interacting with other professionals or at home.
Your rights: today, tomorrow and in the future
If you are an unpaid carer, you’re entitled to certain rights which may help you access services, look after your health and wellbeing or could provide vital information and support in looking after your partner, family member or friend.
Carers UK constantly campaigns for better rights for the UK’s unpaid carers, including securing landmark new rights for those juggling work with their caring responsibilities. And we’ll carry on working to see new or improved rights established, to help make life better for carers.
Your rights, right now
If you are juggling work with your caring responsibilities, you have the right to request flexible working. Carers UK has a range of information on what your rights are and how to make the request with your employer. Visit our website for more information.
If you provide unpaid care, you can ask your GP practice to identify you as a carer on your patient record and might be called forward for priority vaccines or other public health campaigns. Carers UK has information on how to talk to your GP – and even provides a useful letter template to download and use. You can find them on our website.
It’s essential to find ways to look after your health and wellbeing and one way is to exercise your right to request a free flu jab. If you are the main carer for an older or disabled person, who may be put at risk if you became ill, or if you are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, you should be offered a free flu jab. Speak to your GP or local pharmacist or see our website. Carers are also a priority group for accessing Covid booster jabs this winter.
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. (In Northern Ireland carers are protected under the Human Rights Act and Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act.) Understanding your rights can be useful if you feel you have been treated unfairly because of your caring role – and you may also be protected under other laws including disability or sex discrimination legislation. You can read more on our website.
Many carers find it easier to continue in their caring role if they can get some assistance. If it appears that they have needs for support, they can have a carer’s assessment. In Scotland, this is usually referred to as an adult carer support plan and in Wales it is often called a carer's needs assessment. If you’re over 18 and provide regular unpaid care for someone, you’re entitled to a carer’s assessment - it doesn’t matter how much or what sort of care you provide. Why not watch our animation on having a carer’s assessment?
If you are a carer and the person you care for is being discharged from hospital, the hospital must identify and consult with you, where possible. Carers UK has produced handy fact sheets for carers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (including a Welsh language version) which explains your rights and what you can expect, helping relieve some of the stress that can occur when someone close to you has been in hospital.
New rights, right around the corner
The Carer’s Leave Act is something Carers UK has been campaigning for tirelessly for many years and we expect it will become law in 2024. It will give employees juggling work with unpaid care a legal right to request up to five days unpaid leave every twelve months, which will help many manage some of the day-to-day challenges of being a carer – enabling them to stay in employment.
With the introduction of the new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act anyone, including unpaid will be able to ask their employer for changes to their working hours, times of work, or place of work, from day one. And being able to ask for a different flexible working arrangement more than once a year will be a huge help too. We expect the Act to become law in 2024.
We’ll continue to campaign for better rights for all carers
Carers UK is campaigning for a future where all carers are properly recognised, valued, and provided with the support they need to live a life beyond their caring responsibilities. We are working to achieve the following goals:
- Greater recognition and support to identify as a carer.
- Clear rights not to be discriminated against because of their caring responsibilities.
- A fairer social security system which supports carers to live a life free from poverty.
- Consistent recognition, involvement, and support from the NHS.
- Access to good quality and affordable social care, including the ability to take a break from caring.
- Better workplace support including a right to paid time off to care for a family member or friend.
If you want to keep up to date with our campaigns, please sign up here: carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/our-campaigns/
Carers' employment rights today, tomorrow and in the future
Our new report, launched for Carers Rights Day, looks at the impact of juggling work with care - plus the rights that carers have now, new changes to the law and what we believe would best support carers in employment in the future.
Making the most of your Carers Rights Day