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Know your rights at work

1 in 7 employees are juggling work alongside a caring role

As many of us consider setting resolutions and taking on new challenges, it’s no wonder that job boards see a surge around this time of year. Many carers juggle employment alongside their unpaid caring role and can feel unsupported in the workplace.

It can be difficult to know exactly what your rights are and what you can ask of employers. Before you send out the C.V’s, make sure you’ve got all the facts first:

  • With more people than ever being forced to work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, flexible working has never been more prevalent. However, all employees have had a right to request flexible working, even before the pandemic. Whether it’s home working, flexi time or working compressed hours, there are many options to make it work for you.
  • When caring for a loved one, life can be uncertain and plans change at a moment’s notice. If there’s an emergency regarding the person you care for, you have the right to take some time off.
  • People that have been caring for children with additional support needs have been massively impacted due to the pandemic, struggling to manage it all. It’s important to know that all employees are entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave, for each child under 18 years old. You must be employed by the same employer for 12 months and this time off is usually unpaid, unless otherwise stated in your contract.
  • Talk to someone. Whether it’s your manager or HR representative it’s important to have a conversation about your needs. It’s important to note that carers are protected against any form of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

We’ve focused on the practical steps you can take to ease your working day, but what about the emotional and mental impact? Our Wellbeing Facilitator, Carmen shares her favourite grounding techniques to help you feel more confident and in control:

"One of the best ways to settle into the here and now is to focus on your breathe. If you’re feeling under pressure try the ‘5-2-7’ breathing exercise. You can do it anywhere and anytime. Simply inhale and count to five. Hold your breath for two counts, then exhale for a count of seven. Relax and repeat.

Another technique is to let your thoughts come and go. If your mind is racing, close your eyes, breathe naturally and visualise a brilliant blue sky with fluffy white clouds. When you have an unwelcomed thought, simply place it on a cloud and watch it gently drift away.

If you’re holding tension in your body, mentally scan yourself from head to toe. Bring awareness to every part of your body, noticing any tension or discomfort. Then breathe into these sensations allowing the body to relax.

These techniques can be used to help you connect with yourself and your surroundings if you’re in a stressful situation."

Carmen runs regular mindfulness sessions. If you are seeking advice regarding your employment please call our Freephone Support Line on 0800 0388 885 and ask to speak with our Employment Support Officer. 

Need to talk? Call our Freephone Support Line on 0800 0388 885 (Mon-Fri, 9am – 1pm)