Making a flexible working request when you’re caring for someone with dementia

Advice about finding more flexible working arrangements with your employer to help balance work with supporting a person who has dementia.

Question:

‘I’m struggling to combine working full time with caring for my mum at home. What rights do I have to change how I work so that it’s more manageable?’ 

Answer:

There are many people in this very difficult position, and your employer might be able to help.

Your basic rights 

If you’ve worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks, you have the right to make a flexible working request. This can include to work part time or with flexible hours. 

Your employer must consider your request reasonably and can only refuse it if they have good business reasons. These could include cost, impact on other staff, inability to recruit additional staff and effect on customer service. 

You only have a right to make one request each year, and your employer needs to respond within three months. 

Making a request 

Put your request in a letter or email with the date you’re sending it, stating that you’re making a ‘statutory flexible working request’. 

Explain the change you want and when you’d like it to start. Say how any effects the change could have on your work or the business might be dealt with. If you’ve made any previous requests, include the dates of these. 

Try to make the best case you can. Once you’ve made the request, it can help to have a meeting with your employer to discuss it.

Options for more 

Some employers offer packages over and above your basic legal rights – check your contract or staff handbook. 

Even if there are no arrangements in those, you could talk to your employer and see what they’ll agree.

The pandemic has made many people more aware of what can be achieved by flexible working, and perhaps more open to ideas about it. 

Will this disadvantage me? 

It’s worth knowing that the Equality Act 2010 in England and Wales, and similar legislation in Northern Ireland, gives protection to carers from being discriminated against at work because of their caring role – for example, by being passed over for promotion. 

What if my employer says no? 

If you’re in Northern Ireland, you can contact the free Labour Relations Agency helpline on 03300 555 300 – they help to resolve workplace issues and can also explain your legal rights and other options. 

In Wales or England, you could speak to ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. They have a free helpline, 0300 123 1100, and lots of useful online information.

You could also think about getting some support for your mum or yourself from your local council’s social services team. 

See our factsheets about getting assessed for local council support:

We need your help

We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without urgent financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.

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Dementia together magazine: Apr/May 21

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now

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