Work and caring

When you're a carer, you may have questions about work and decisions to make.  

This page will help you find out more about your options and the support available from Maggie's.

Why might being a carer affect your work?

When you work and someone close to you has cancer, you might:

  • Need or want to take time off
  • Find it difficult to focus on work
  • Not want to travel away from home
  • Worry about finances as a family

Your feelings, choices and decisions about work may change over time.

Taking time off as a carer

The amount of time off you need to take will vary depending on your situation. You may want to:

  • Go with someone to their appointments
  • Leave work at short notice if there's an emergency
  • Be at home for periods of time if someone is feeling unwell because of treatment or they've had an operation
  • Care for someone at home all the time

Continuing to work when you're a carer

When making a decision about work, it can be helpful to understand what issues the person you're caring for may have over time and how those might affect your work.

You may want to discuss with them and their healthcare team what their caring needs might be. Are there specific times you'll need to be with them and how much is it possible to plan ahead.

You can then ask yourself:

  • How do I feel about carrying on working?
  • Can I reduce my workload or work in a different way?
  • What support is available from work?
  • Can I manage financially if I stop working or cut my hours?

Talking to employers

If you need time off, ask your employer or line manager to find out more about policies on carer's leave and absence from work. 

You can also discuss ways they may be able to support you to stay in work and what you would like to tell your colleagues about the situation.

You don't need to tell them everything if you, or the person you care for, don’t feel comfortable. However, talking to them regularly may help your employer understand more and support you more effectively.

Your rights at work

You do have some rights to protect you as a carer. You have the right to:

  • Ask for reasonable adjustments to make things easier – you can do this once a year, if you've been in your job for 28 weeks. Your employer does not have to agree but must give good reason for turning a request down
  • Take time off in emergencies
  • Not be discriminated against for being a carer.

If you want to learn more about your rights at work when you're a carer, just come in to any Maggie's centre to talk to one of our Benefits Advisors.

Financial support for carers

There is no legal obligation to offer any carer’s pay but check your employer’s policies and the terms and conditions in your workplace.

Big changes and caring responsibilities can all have a health impact – you can claim sick pay from your employer, if you are unwell too.

There may be also be benefits available from the government if you have to take unpaid leave.

What if I am self employed?

When you're self-employed and a carer, you don't have the same support from an employer.

Find out more about self-employment and cancer and the support available for you.

Returning to work after taking time out as a carer

If you're thinking about returning to work after taking time out as a carer, you may be worried about:

  • how the person you've been caring for will cope without you
  • your concentration or focus
  • not feeling ready to go back to work.

Ideally, you will have kept in touch with your employer, so that you can talk about coming back and decide what changes will help you ease back into work. You may need to build up your return to work gradually.

How can Maggie’s help you as a carer

If you care for someone with cancer, we're here for you too. If you're a friend, family member, employer or colleague and need support – come and talk to us.

Our Cancer Support Specialists can help you talk through issues and we have Benefits Advisors who specialise in helping you to claim the benefits you, and those close to you, are entitled to.

Get cancer support near you

To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.

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