I'm currently caring for my husband, who lives with me. Do I have any rights to work flexibly?

As long as you are an employee and have worked continuously for your employer for at least 26 weeks, you have the right to ask to work flexibly. You can only make one application in 12 months and this right does not apply to agency workers.

It is a right to ask to work flexibly. It is not a right to have your request granted. However, your employer can only turn your request down for one of a list of specific business-related reasons. Browse the rest of our Flexible Working section for tips on how to go about making your request and speak to your union rep, if you have one.

Where terms and conditions are changed following a statutory request, the change is normally permanent, unless you make it clear during the application, that you would like the change to be time limited and the employer agrees. If your husband’s care needs are temporary while he recovers, you may be better off asking for a more “one-off” arrangement. Check whether your employer has a policy in place for time off to care for dependents. 

Remember also that you have a basic statutory right to reasonable emergency time off to care for your husband, known as dependants’ leave. This kind of leave is unpaid, unless your employer has agreed to something better. Check the rules and policies where you work. It would cover, for example, the time you need to accompany your husband on an urgent trip to hospital or a breakdown in his care arrangements. 

You should tell your employer, as soon as reasonably possible, that you are taking this kind of leave, why you need it and when you hope to be back at work.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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