Talking to your employer

You aren’t required to tell your employer that you are a carer. However, talking to your employer about your caring duties may help them be more understanding and accommodating of your needs. It may also help you to access carer’s leave and flexible working arrangements.

Before talking to your employer, investigate the policies your workplace has for employees with caring responsibilities or what your award says. For more information on your rights at work visit Workplace Rights.

You might discuss:

  • the impact of caring responsibilities on your work commitments
  • taking time off or setting up flexible working arrangements
  • if the caring role is likely to be short-term or long-term
  • ways your employer may be able to support you
  • the benefits for your employer if you stay in your position
  • who should know about your situation, and whether you want to share information with your colleagues.

If you are considering resigning, talk to your employer. They may not want to lose you and may suggest some options to help you remain at work that you hadn’t considered.

If you tell your colleagues about your caring role, they may be a source of support or provide some ideas for how the team can adapt to your changed needs. Some of your colleagues may also be working carers. However, if you prefer to keep your caring role confidential, your employer needs to respect your wishes.

Flexible working arrangements

Carers have the right under the Fair Work Act 2009 to request adjustments to their work hours, work location or pattern of work. They must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months.

  • You need to ask in writing, giving details of the change you want and the reasons for this requested change.
  • Suggest realistic and workable options that show you have thought about how the needs of the workplace can also be met.
  • Your employer needs to accept or refuse your request in writing within 21 days of receiving it.
  • Your employer should take reasonable steps to accommodate your caring responsibilities. They can only refuse your request on reasonable business grounds, and they have to tell you their reasons.
  • Talk to your manager or human resources department to see if you can arrange some flexible work practices.
  • Many employers are aware of the challenges working carers face. Your manager may try to be flexible.
  • Visit Workplace Rights for more information on protections for carers under anti-discrimination laws.

This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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