Everyone, including carers, have a right to time off in emergencies under the Employment Relations Act 1999. You are entitled to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off if you have worked for your employer for at least a year (if you have not worked for them for this long, most employers would still negotiate this with you) and there is an emergency relating to the person you care for.

It is at the employers’ discretion whether this is paid or unpaid leave.

The emergency could be:

  • A breakdown in the care arrangements
  • The person you care for falls ill or has an accident – this can be physical or emotional
  • Your child has an incident during school hours
  • Making longer term care arrangements
  • Time off following the death of a dependent

To use this correctly, employees must inform their employer as soon as possible after the emergency has happened.

Other leave arrangements include offering sick or compassionate leave or a system of planned leave. Your organisation may have a Carers’ Policy, which might entitle you to extra leave. These will be outlined in your employment contract, the organisation’s policies or staff handbook. For example, you may be able to use leave arrangements, paid or unpaid, at the discretion of your employer to cover intensive or difficult periods of care

Read our Fact sheet on Holiday Leave and Public Holidays to make sure you know what your holiday entitlement is.

If you are thinking of giving up work, a career break (or sabbatical) would allow you to keep your options open, ensuring you could go back, and keeping you in touch with the world of work. Some employers offer paid and/or unpaid career breaks, often after a specified period of service with them, so check your organisation’s policies.

If you are unsure what option would be best for you and would like to discuss it with someone contact Carers Bucks and talk to one of our Carer Support Workers.