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Returning to work

  • Overview

Returning to work

If you want to start or return to work there are lots of things to consider and many schemes that can help you as a carer.

If you've been recently bereaved or your caring responsibilities have come to an end because the person you were looking after has gone into a care or nursing home you may need time to adjust to your new circumstances. The pages below summarise the options available.

There is a range of back-to-work benefits available including:

There are also rules about going back onto the rate of benefit you were on before you gave up work. This means you can try working without having to go back on to benefit at a lower rate. For more information see Back to work benefits.


Jobcentre Plus can help you access training schemes to update your skills or help you learn new ones. You may also be eligible for a 'Professional and Career Development Loan'. This is a bank loan of between £300 and £10,000 to fund the cost of learning that enhances your job skills or career prospects.

Other sources of help include:

  • The National Careers Service offers careers and skills advice on 0800 100 900. Help is available over the phone, online, or face to face.

Work schemes

In addition, Jobcentre Plus runs a range of schemes including:

  • work trials,
  • Access to Work, and
  • employment on trial.

For more information see Help getting work.

After someone goes into a care home

There may come a time when the person you're looking after can no longer be cared for at home and needs to move into a residential or nursing home to receive the care they need.

When this happens you'll no longer be involved in their care in the same way. Some carers experience a sense of loss and others lose a sense of purpose when their caring role changes.

You may need to return to work to earn money. For some carers who haven't worked for some time, this can be daunting. You may have lost your confidence, or feel you no longer have the skills you once had.

Routes into employment

There are several routes back into employment. For example:

  • part-time work,
  • full-time work,
  • job-sharing,
  • self-employment, or
  • voluntary work.

You may wish to continue some of your caring responsibilities when you go back to work. You don't have to tell your employer that you're a carer. However, if you choose to do so there are many ways in which they can help. These include offering:

Financial support

You may no longer be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if the person you look after goes into a residential or nursing home. You must inform the Disability and Carers Service about any change in your circumstances or those of the person you care for. You can report changes in circumstances for Carer's Allowance online.

If you're ready to look for a job there are benefits, such as Jobseeker's Allowance, to help you. Jobseeker's Allowance includes a payment that helps with any mortgage interest you have to pay. You may also be paid Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit to help you pay rent and council tax bills. You may also be eligible for back-to-work benefits.

Following a bereavement

You may have been a carer for a few weeks, a few months or many years. When the person you're looking after dies, you not only lose a loved one but may also lose a sense of purpose as your caring role ends.

You may need to return to work in order to gain financial security. Returning to work may also help you regain a sense of purpose and provide a new structure to your life.

If you haven't been in employment for a while you may feel a bit uncertain about returning. You may have lost your confidence or feel you no longer have the skills you once had.

However, you may have acquired new skills as a carer that may be attractive to potential employers. Some organisations actively seek to recruit carers and former carers returning to work.

Carers are not expected to go back to work immediately after bereavement. Some carers find that they become unwell after bereavement. If this is the case for you and you're not ready to go back to work you may be able to claim benefits other than Jobseeker’s Allowance. These include Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit, depending on your circumstances.

Routes into employment

There are several routes back into employment, for example:

  • part-time work,
  • full-time work,
  • job-sharing,
  • self-employment, or
  • voluntary work.

If you're returning to work after being a carer Jobcentre Plus offers a range of help and advice. Contact your local office or get more information from the Directgov website.


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Page last reviewed: 14/08/2012

Next review due: 14/08/2014

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