Are you thinking about leaving work or do you want to know more about combining work and a caring role?
Thinking of leaving work
- Whilst some people feel that leaving work is the best option for them when a family member needs care or support, it may not be the only option. Sometimes people leave work to care for a family member or friend and it is only later that they realise what they have lost by leaving. If you haven't already thought about some of the following, it may be worth thinking through or talking to someone about these points in order to help you better understand what decisions you are making:
- How will leaving work affect your income? Does this have any impact on your rent, mortgage, relationships or your dependents? What could you do to manage this?
- How will leaving work affect your pension and retirement savings? Will you still be able to make contributions for your old age pension?
- Will you miss the friendship or companionship of your colleagues? Do you have other routine social contact?
- How long will you be out of work for? Could your career break end up being longer than you expect? Will taking a career break have a long term impact on your career or your skills that will make it hard to return later?
- Does work help you to maintain your independence and sense of 'self'?
- Do you want to be able to work as well as care? What would your best option look like?
- Who else can help you?
- It may be possible to adjust your working hours or the kind of work you do to make this more compatible with your caring role. For example, you might want to think about whether it is possible to change role or position at work to something which can accommodate flexible working or part-time hours - see "combining working and caring" below.
- You may be entitled to some financial support in relation to your caring role that could help you manage the financial aspects of leaving work or working less - see "Thinking through your finances" below.
- You may wish to seek advice or information about caring and your work options from an information and advice provider such as the Citizen's Advice Bureau or Health information Guernsey.
- If you are looking for information and advice on employment rights and best practice in the workplace the Employment Relations Service may be able to assist.
- If you do feel that you need to care full-time and are considering leaving work it may be worth a discussion with your employer or HR department about whether any of the following could be alternative options to resignation:
- A career break or sabbatical - this would allow you to return to your role at a later date
- Voluntary redundancy - if your employer is looking to make redundancies this may offer a better financial option for you than resignation.
- Early retirement - this may give you access to some pension income (if you have a work pension) which could make your finances easier to manage whilst caring.
Thinking through your finances
- You can find out more about the benefits which might be available to support you in the 'Tell me about financial support' section.
- You can receive Carer's Allowance and work at the same time providing that your household income remains below the upper threshold and that you continue to meet the eligibility for Carer's Allowance, which includes caring for 35 hours a week. However, you cannot currently claim Carer's Allowance at the same time as Sickness Benefit or Unemployment Benefit. More information is available in the Severe Disability Benefit & Carer's Allowance leaflet here.
- You may wish to speak to your private pension provider, your mortgage provider or an independent financial adviser about how to manage your long-term financial commitments whilst caring.
- Some benefits (including sickness benefit and unemployment benefit) and your Old Age Pension can only be claimed by people who have paid a certain amount of Social Security Contributions. The amount you receive when you claim may also be affected by the number of contributions you have paid. Whether or not you work whilst caring may affect your eligibility:
- If you claim Carer's Allowance you will get a credit towards your Social Security Contributions which will mean that you maintain your contributions towards your Old Age Pension and your eligibility to benefits such as unemployment or sickness benefits without needing to pay.
- If you work you will be paying these contributions from your earnings.
- If you leave work and are not eligible for or do not claim Carer's Allowance you will be classed as 'non-employed' for Social Security Contributions, as 'non-employed' you can contribute towards your pension and some other benefits but not to sickness benefit or unemployment benefit.
- If you have income over a certain lower income limit threshold (see here) you will be required to pay contributions on a certain percent of your income.
- If your income is less than the lower income limit threshold then you will have the option of paying a minimum weekly rate of contributions towards your Old Age Pension. If you do not pay this it may have an impact on the amount of pension you receive once you have passed State Pension Age.
- You can find out more about your Old Age Pension online, or the Pensions and Allowances helpdesk will be able to help you on (01481) 732506. You can find out more about Social Security Contributions online, or by calling Social Security on (01481) 732500.
Combining working and caring
- If you are already in work, your employer may be able to support you to remain in work. Some employers already have company policies about supporting people who care for family or friends. It might be worth discussing your situation with your line manager, HR department, union or staff association representative to understand if any support is available.
- Depending on the type of work you do, it may be possible to ask for a flexible working arrangement to help you to balance your work and care responsibilities. This could include (but is not limited to):
- Flexible start and finish times
- Compressed working hours (where you work less days but for longer each day)
- Annualised hours (where you work a certain number of hours over a year but work longer hours some weeks and shorter hours others)
- Job sharing or part time working
- Home or remote working
- Phased retirement (you may be able to reduce your hours and possibly even receive some of your occupational pension if you are close to State Pension Age but do not want full retirement yet)
- In some cases it might be possible for your employer to modify your role so that what you do is more compatible with your needs as a carer (perhaps they could find a role that allows you to be more flexible in your hours, for example). Varying your hours or role will not always be possible. In some circumstances, you might feel leaving your current job to find a job that is more compatible with your caring role could help you.
- If you are looking for information and advice on employment rights and best practice in the workplace the Employment Relations Service may be able to assist. They provide a factsheet on 'Varying Terms & Conditions of Employment' which might help you if you are considering asking for a change.
- If you want to talk through your options and what you could do, you can find out careers information from the Careers Guernsey website or contact Careers Guernsey to speak to an adult careers adviser on (01481) 706565 or via emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Care support whilst you are at work
- Community services may be able to provide services in your own home or at a day centre to help with the care and support needs of the person you are looking after. As well as assessing the needs of the person you are supporting you are entitled to an assessment of your needs (including your need to work) in your own right as a carer. For further information contact Adult Community Services on Tel: 01481 725241 ext. 3313
- There are also some private care agencies available.
- Contacting you in an emergency
- If you are concerned about the person you support needing to call for help in an emergency whilst you are not there, the Lifeline telephone system provided by Sure can assist someone to call for help. Pressing a button on a telephone or a wearable pendant will put them directly through to an operator who will either call an ambulance or a named contact, which could (with the agreement of the individual) be you. Application for the service can be via a health and social care professional or directly via Sure on (01481) 700700.
Going back to work after a career break
- The Job Centre is a good place to start looking for work. You can contact the team at the Job Centre who will be able to help you identify what support might be available for you to get back into work
- If you want to talk through your options and what you could do, you can find out careers information from the Careers Guernsey website or contact Careers Guernsey to arrange an appointment to speak to an adult careers adviser on (01481) 706565 or via emailing email@example.com.
- Recruitment agencies or temp agencies might also be able to provide you with some advice or may be able to help you to find work that suits your circumstances.