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We explain what to do if you need a longer period of time off work, perhaps to care for someone 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 the person you care for needs continuous support for a while, and you feel that you need a temporary break from work, you’ll need 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 contract, or it can be something that your employer deals with on a case-by-case basis.

Career break

If you are struggling to manage work and caring, speak to your employer about your options. They might be willing to give you a temporary 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 claim Carer's allowance or other Benefits for carers. If you go back to work after your break be sure to notify the different benefits departments of your change of circumstances. This must be done before you return to work to prevent any overpayment of benefits.

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 partner, relative or friend’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 last reviewed: October 2017