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Getting back into employment

If you have given up work (or not worked at all) because of your caring responsibilities you may want to work or return to work once your caring role ends, or you may decide you want to combine care with work.

Recognising your skills

If you are not sure what you would like to do, start by recognising the skills and interests you have.

Think about what you have learned from:

  • any paid work that you have done
  • tasks and responsibilities involved in your role as a carer, a parent, and running a home
  • any other activities that you do, for example, voluntary work, committees etc

Then identify your interests; think about:

  • what you enjoy doing
  • how you would like to use your skills
  • things you miss doing that you once did, eg previous work.

You may feel that you need to gain confidence to use your skills in new ways. There are training courses available on topics like confidence building, assertiveness training and managing stress.

Think about what employers want and value your own experience. Identify the transferable skills you have gained through caring and match these to employers’ needs. Skills you may have developed include:

  • managing a budget
  • time management
  • planning and problem-solving
  • prioritising, organising and negotiating.

Think about short and long term goals and make a plan of what you would like to do. Make sure the plan is achievable - include small steps as well as your long term goals. Once you know what you want to do, you can look for the right kind of support to help you.

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Support in returning to work

Whether your caring role has ended or you are still caring, you may need support in returning to work or training after a period out of the workplace. There are many places that may be able to help you:

  • Find out if your area has a local carers centre or project which offers advice and guidance for carers wishing to return to work.
  • You have a right to a carer's assessment, ask your local council to carry one out.  Your need or wish to work will have to be taken into account by the council when determining what support you may need.
  • Find out from your carers' organisation, local council or voluntary organisation what alternative care is available that would enable you to train or work.
  • Find out if local colleges or adult education centres give concessions to carers on benefits.
  • Call a learning helpline or careers advice service such as Next Step (England), Careers Wales, Careers Scotland, Careers Service Northern Ireland
  • Contact your local Jobcentre Plus (or your social security office in Northern Ireland) and ask what help they can give you in looking at training or work opportunities.
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Returning to work and Carer's Allowance

If you are no longer caring, your entitlement to Carer's Allowance will stop and you will need to find out about which other benefit(s) you can claim. You may also have to think about returning to work. Help is available and it is important to seek advice about what to do next.

If you are thinking of combining work and care, you may be able to do this and continue to claim some benefits. Carer's Allowance can be paid to working carers as long as you earn no more than the earning's limit (after certain deductions). You may be able to claim other benefits such as Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. You may also be entitled to extra help when you start work such as Extended Payments of Housing Benefit .

If you are thinking about returning to work or changing your hours, ask your local advice centre or Jobcentre Plus for a better off calculation so that you know how starting work will affect your income, and that you claim all the help you can.

If you are not sure which benefits you could claim or what help you can get to help you find work, call Carers UK's Adviceline on 0808 808 7777 or go to your local advice centre.

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