Caring and paid work - your rights

Balancing caring responsibilities with the demands of paid work can be a challenge. You may need extra support and access to flexible work arrangements. It is important to know your rights.

Importance of paid work

Many carers of working age want to continue in paid employment. Working allows carers to:

  • earn extra income and build up superannuation for retirement
  • take advantage of the personal challenges, independence, self-esteem and important social connections that the workplace provides
  • gain respite from their caring responsibilities and a life outside of caring.

    Workplace discrimination

    In NSW the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 provides protection for carers if they have been unfairly treated or harassed in the workplace because of their caring responsibilities. 

    If you have been harassed or unfairly treated because you have caring responsibilities you can make a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW. If you would like more information or would like to make a complaint you can call the Anti-Discrimination Board's General Enquiry Service on 02 9268 5544. People in regional or rural areas can call toll free on 1800 670 812. You can read more about the complaint process on the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW website

    Right to take leave

    The Fair Work Act 2009 (Standard 5 of the National Employment Standards) grants you the right to annual leave entitlements to cover sickness or caring responsibilities, including:

    • ten days of paid personal / carer’s leave (paid pro rata for part time employees)
    • two days unpaid carer’s leave on each occasion that you need to provide care to someone in your immediate family or household. Unpaid carer’s leave can be taken as 2 working days in a row or in separate periods as agreed between the employee and employer (e.g. 4 half days in a row). 
    • two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casual employees) as required

    For further information, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website or call 13 13 94.

    Right to request flexible working arrangements

    If you are a carer (within the meaning of the Carer Recognition Act 2010- Part 1, Section 5) you have the right to request flexible working arrangements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Standard 2 of the National Employments Standards).

    Flexible working arrangements may include:

    • changes to hours of work - such as a reduction in hours or changes to start and finish times
    • changes to patterns of work - such as 'split-shifts' or job sharing arrangements
    • changes to the location of work - such as the ability to work from home.

    Full-time and part-time employees can make requests after 12 months of continuous employment. Casual employees can also make requests for flexible working arrangements as long as you have worked on a regular and systematic basis for 12 months and have a reasonable expectation that your employment will continue.

    There are rules governing how your request must be made and how your employer must respond.

    Your employer must seriously consider a request for flexible working arrangements and may only refuse it on reasonable business grounds such as increased costs of or no capacity to accommodate the new working arrangements. For further information about what ‘reasonable business grounds’ might be, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website or call 13 13 94. 

    If you feel that your employer has discriminated against you, you can pursue a number of options through the Fair Work Ombudsman, including investigation, mediation or litigation. The Fair Work Ombudsman will cover the cost of your claim if they decide to proceed with it. More information is available on the Fair Work Ombudsman website and the Workplace discrimination factsheet.

    Right to negotiate an individual flexibility agreement (IFA)

    The Fair Work Act 2009 grants you and your employer the right to negotiate an individual arrangement that changes the conditions of your modern award or enterprise agreement to meet a genuine need.

    If you can put forward a good business case to your employer, you may be able to negotiate an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA) for flexible work arrangements to help you cover your caring responsibilities.

    Your employer is obliged to make sure that your IFA does not undermine the minimum entitlements of your workplace and that you are better off overall compared to the existing modern award or enterprise agreement.

    Find out more on the Fair Work Ombudsman website or by calling 1300 799 675.

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    Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.