Supports for working carers
For those caring for someone while working outside the home, it can be difficult at times to accommodate these competing responsibilities. This section explores the options and supports available to you if you are working and also provides some direction if you are entering or re-entering the workforce.
Carer’s Leave allows employees in Ireland to leave their employment temporarily to care for someone who is in need of full-time care and attention. The minimum period of leave is 13 weeks and the maximum period is 104 weeks. The legislation ensures that those who propose to avail of Carer’s Leave will have their jobs kept open for them for the duration of the leave. More information on the Carer’s Leave Act can be found on Citizens Information and the National Employment Rights Authority.
You may decide that you wish to reduce the number of hours you are working, and this will need to be negotiated with your employer. You may qualify for Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit if you work up to 15 hours a week and your earnings are under a threshold set by the Department of Social Protection.
Alternatively you might wish to seek leave of absence, and again this would need to be discussed with your employer.
If you decide that you no longer wish to remain in employment remember that you may be entitled to Carers Benefit for the first two years, and Carers Allowance for further years.
If you take Carer’s Leave you may be eligible for Carer’s Benefit if you have enough PRSI contributions. If you do not qualify for Carer’s Benefit you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance which is a means-tested payment. You can take Carer’s Leave even if you do not qualify for either of these payments.
Caring for Children
If you are caring for a child with a life limiting illness, remember that your entitlement to Parental leave (14 weeks per child) may be taken up to the child’s 16th birthday.
For parents of children with a disability Domiciliary Care Allowance may be available.
Entering or Re-entering the Workforce
For those thinking about entering or re-entering the workforce and in need of help looking for a job, registering as unemployed provides access to various training programmes and back-to-work schemes even for those not eligible for a job seeker’s payment. FÁS provides information on training and support, as well as specific guidance and information on career direction.
Grief at Work, published by the Irish Hospice Foundation, outlines how employees can be supported so that they can manage their care giving-role or the impact of bereavement as well as their work demands.