As a carer, and especially a freelancer, it can be daunting to discuss your caring responsibilities with people you are talking to about work, whether this is an employer, a director, agent, head of department, designer, or anyone else. Below are some top tips to help you have these conversations and find positive, helpful, practical solutions. If you are employed, or think it might be useful for someone who is in a position to give support you might find it useful to share this resource with them before you have the conversation: ‘5 Top Tips for Supporting the Carers in Your Workforce’ 

Often we don’t recognise that we are carers, as our situation is normal to us, or maybe the process of becoming a carer was very gradual. Identifying ourselves as carers, and letting other people who we might work with know, could open the door to a number of benefits, even if you're not an employee. Organisations sometimes have a comprehensive Carers Policy in place. This is usually for employees but it's always worth asking as it will provide a good basis for a conversation and see whether any adaptations are possible.

‘A carer is anyone, including children and adults, who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.’ - NHS UK

The Carer Passport Scheme is an excellent resource. This scheme provides a framework for disclosing caring responsibilities, and participating organisations have access to resources to implement appropriate support and benefits. In general, the scheme is usually only available for employees but if it is available, could still be useful in identifying support as a freelancer.

If the organisation, or person you're speaking to, doesn't know about this you can share this ‘Carer Passport Guide’ with them so they can view the benefits of the scheme for themselves.

As a Carer, sometimes there are regular meetings that we need to attend with, or on behalf of the person we are caring for. We can also periodically be required to do urgent things at very short notice, such as if an elderly relative has a fall and we need to be with them. Having a conversation at the beginning of the contract about the type, likelihood, and frequency of your care responsibilities upfront will help you, and the people you are working with, put things in place in advance to mitigate anything that might arise. For example, what is the scope for later start times? Maybe not every day, but a couple of times a week or even just occasionally? Could hours be compressed or staggered if necessary? Are there aspects of the work that can be done from home? Is a job share an option? We have lots of examples of flexibility that have been implemented at other performing arts organisations so if you're not sure what to ask for, have a browse through our news and resources pages to see if there's anything that you think might work.  


Many PiPA Charter Partners have implemented carer-friendly rehearsals and have reported that these rehearsals were more efficient and that the supportive company ethos it provided benefitted the quality of work produced. Discussing measures that will help accommodate your caring responsibilities could benefit the company so keep this in mind when having conversations.

  • Can a rehearsal schedule be finalised and distributed as soon as possible? Emphasise that deviations from this schedule will be problematic due to your caring responsibilities.

  • Can weekend work be kept to a minimum?

  • Is there scope for truncated rehearsal days and more but shorter tech days?

Everybody needs support from time to time, and you must take care of your well-being as well as that of those you care for:


  • Stay Connected: Identify the person who has overall responsibility for your role in the company and is supportive. At PiPA we call this a PiPA Champion. So if you're at one of our organisations you could ask if they have a PiPA Champion and ask to be put in touch. You could ask for regular meetings with them to help you stay on track that your workload is manageable and that you are able to fit work around your caring responsibilities. These sessions don’t have to be long, and setting this up as an expectation from the beginning can make it easier to discuss changes in circumstances and prevent situations from escalating.
  • Stay Social: Chances are, you aren’t the only carer in the organisation. See if there is a network that you could tap into, and ask around if there is anyone who might be willing to meet for coffee and a chat. Parents also face some similar challenges and could be a source of strength, solidarity, and support.
  • External Support: Does the organisation have an Employment Assistance programme or links to other support or services for their employee's mental health and well-being? Ask if that could be something you could have access to for the duration of your contract.


If the organisation you are working for is interested in learning more about PiPA or wants to learn more about developing inclusive, accessible working practices for those with caring responsibilities, our Charter Programme will be able to help. PiPA offers hands-on support, guidance, and access to over 40 Resources, Case Studies, and How-To Guides to help them better support (and with that attract and retain) their parent and carer workforce. For more information, contact our Programmes Team.

If you have any questions about the advice given above, do contact Cassie on