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If you are of working age, it’s quite likely you are balancing your caring role with paid employment or self-employment – and probably other family commitments.

Giving up your job to care for someone is a huge decision – and one you shouldn’t rush into in the early days of caring.

Even if you are retired or can afford not to work, you might prefer to combine your caring duties with a career, or full-time or part-time job simply because you enjoy it.

Your right to work

It’s important that you don’t feel pressurised to give up your job when you become a carer or your caring responsibilities increase.

Furthermore, the law is on your side – carers have the legal right to work if they so wish and it is illegal for employers to discriminate against someone because of their caring duties.

Giving up work

If you can afford to give up work  – or perhaps retire early – you might think it’s the best thing to do. This is your decision, but take time to weigh up all the pros and cons first.

Not only will you lose a regular income (and future pension contributions), but you’ll miss out on the social side of work.

Once you have left a profession or job you enjoy, it can be difficult to get back into work, particularly if you have been out of work for a long time or are nearing retirement age.

Support at home

If you are struggling to work and look after someone, find out if you can get support – or extra support – from social services. If the other person’s assessment was carried out some time ago – perhaps when you were able to leave them on their own – ask to have their needs reassessed.

If you have not already had one, ask your local council for a carer’s needs assessment and make it clear that you want to continue working or to return to work. 

Returning to work

When you first became a carer you may have thought that giving up your job was the only option. If you now regret this decision, do not despair.

Ask your local council for a carer’s needs assessment and tell the social worker or other professional that you intend to return to work and are unable to continue in your caring role.

You going back to work represents a significant change in circumstances, which in turn imposes a duty on the local council to re-assess the other person’s care and support needs.

More information

Carers UK offers advice for carers wishing to combine work and caring.

There is also an online course to help working carers understand their rights at work, to find sources of support and develop ways to better juggle work and caring responsibilities.