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 can provide benefits and allows carers to:

  • earn extra income and to 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 caring.

Right to request flexible working arrangements

If you are a carer (within the meaning of the Carer Recognition Act 2010) 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 location of work - such as the ability to work from home.

You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (full-time, part-time or casually on a regular and systematic basis) 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, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 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. Read their factsheet on Unlawful workplace discrimination for more information.

If you are caring for a family member of any age

In NSW the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 provides protection for carers if they have been unfairly treated or harassed 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 NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. 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.

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  or carer’s leave (paid pro rata for part time employees)
  • two days unpaid carer’s leave as required
  • two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required

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

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.

You can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for more information on 1300 799 675.



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