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Flexible working for carers

If you’re employed and care for someone, you can ask for flexible working. This can help you to balance your work and caring responsibilities.

About flexible working

Flexible working usually means a permanent change to your employment contract to help you balance your work and caring responsibilities. It doesn’t just mean working reduced hours. It could be a compressed working week (fewer but longer days), a job share with someone else, finishing earlier or more time working at home.

Do you have a legal right to flexible working?

No, but you have the right to request flexible working if you’ve worked for your employer for at least 26 continuous weeks and you haven't made any other flexible working requests in the last 12 months. You also need to be one of the following:

  • A parent of young or disabled children.
  • A carer for your wife, husband, civil partner or partner, or considering becoming one.
  • A carer for someone you live with or a close relative.

Your employer can only refuse a request for certain reasons and if it’s reasonable to do so. For example, if they can show that flexible working would have a negative impact on their business.

How do you apply for flexible working?

It’s best to use the written application form available on the website  .

There is also a guide to applying on the Working Families website   and a guide for people living in Northern Ireland  

Next, your employer should meet you to talk about your suggestions. Try to remember that these meetings don’t have to be formal and they’re a chance to negotiate. You can take a colleague or trade union representative with you if you wish.

External websites  
Labour Relations Agency   (Northern Ireland)
Working Families   – a guide to flexible working
Working Families   – a guide to flexible working for employees in Northern Ireland

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