Who is a working carer?

A working carer combines paid employment with unpaid personal care, assistance and support to a person who needs this help because of an illness or disability.

There are many different types of caring situations:

  • You may be a partner, relative, friend or neighbour.
  • The person you are caring for may also be employed, or you may be looking after someone who isn’t in the workforce (e.g. elderly parent, child).
  • Care can be part-time or full-time, over a short period of time or long term.
  • The support can be practical (e.g. preparing meals, shopping and managing medicines), emotional or spiritual.

Who is covered?

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, carer’s leave is available for:

  • immediate family members – an employee’s spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling (or the child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner)
  • household members – any person who lives with the employee.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 also protects carers of people with cancer from workplace discrimination, including family members (spouse, de facto partner and other relatives) and unrelated carers who provide assistance to a person affected by cancer.

State and territory anti-discrimination laws generally provide similar protection, except in the Northern Territory.


This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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