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We let you know what to do if you need a longer period of time off work, perhaps to care for a loved one when they come out of hospital, to provide end-of-life care or to cope with a bereavement.

On this page we give you information about:

1. Compassionate leave
2. Career break
3. Benefits while on leave

Compassionate leave

Unlike time off for emergencies, there is no right in the law for a carer to take a longer break from work to deal with on-going situations. So if your relative or friend needs continuous support for a while and you feel that it would be best for you to not work at that time, the best thing to do is to talk to your employer and see if you can come to an arrangement.

Many employers offer discretionary leave in special circumstances. This is often known as ‘compassionate leave’ or ‘special leave’ and can be either paid or unpaid. Your right to compassionate leave might be detailed in your work contract, or it can be something that your employer deals with on a case-by-case basis.

Career break

If working and caring is getting too much for you, speak to your employer about your options. They might be willing to give you a sabbatical from work. This is usually unpaid, although some employers might continue to give you full or part wage.

Taking a sabbatical or career break allows you to focus 100% on your caring duties, safe in the knowledge that you can go back to your job later. It can help you to recharge your batteries, plan for the future and work out the practicalities of juggling work and caring responsibilities.

Benefits while on leave

If you take unpaid leave from work, you might be entitled to Carer's allowance or other Benefits for carers. But don’t forget, if you go back to work you must notify your local authority of your change in circumstances so you don’t get paid too much benefits and end up having to pay it back.

After a sabbatical, you might decide to give up work and become a full-time carer, or you could choose to go back to work and make alternative arrangements for your relative’s care. 

Our Care services directory can help you find care homes or domiciliary care (help at home). If you think working part-time could be the right option for you and the person you care for, have a look into requesting Flexible working.

More information

Page first published: December 2015
Next review due: August 2017