WORK AND THE CARING ROLE
Whilst caring for someone it is often beneficial to take on or continue working in some capacity, although not always easy it can help maintain relationships and interests outside the caring role and provide financial security.
Finding a balance with your work and caring responsibilities should also include time for your own health and wellbeing. Think about how much time and energy you spend on others and compare that to how much work you put into your own physical and mental health. Even just a little time out each day can help make a difference, looking after your own health and wellbeing is the most important thing you can do to continue helping those who matter in your life.
With caring responsibilities traditionally performed by women, it can be difficult, awkward and uncommon for men who have caring responsibilities to approach an employer with a request for varied work hours, time off or other changes to his work role. Many employers are understanding of caring responsibilities and will try to accommodate requests however some are less willing to help which might create anxiety and stress for the employee and prevent conversations from ever taking place.
The Fair Work Act 2009 and Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 provide working carers the right to fair treatment in the workplace and reasonable time off work for caring responsibilities when needed. These acts, along with the NSW Carers Recognition Act 2010, encourage working carers to negotiate with employers so that understanding and flexibility can be reached between employer and employee.
It might be difficult or awkward but asking questions and speaking with your employer is an important first step to find a balance between your own work and caring responsibilities. It may also be a catalyst for other men in caring roles to gain confidence from your example.
As a working carer it is important to be aware of how income affects Centrelink payments. If you qualify for carer income support or supplement from Centrelink please be aware of the following:
The Carer Allowance is not income or asset tested so income from work will not impact on the rate of payment.
The Carer Payment is income and asset tested meaning the amount of money you earn and the time spent away from your caring responsibilities (including travel time) each fortnight can affect payment rates.
Reporting your income and hours worked could include completing an online form or a phone call to confirm details with Centrelink. Whilst for many this process is simple, sometimes the system can be a source of frustration largely due to the lengthy wait times on the telephone. The phone number for carers to contact Centrelink is 132 717 and is open from 8am to 5pm Mon to Fri. The best advice is to call at a time most convenient to you and be prepared for a wait time.
For more detailed information Carers Gateway is a helpful website with plenty of news, links and advice focused on the needs of working carers.