What to consider before returning to work

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Returning to work

Returning to work after taking time off to raise a family is never easy – but don’t let it frighten you! Here’s a simple guide to the things you should consider before applying for jobs.

It’s easier to find the ‘perfect’ job if you have a clear idea of what ‘perfect’ means for you and your family. Take a look at this checklist to help you decide.

1. Full time or part time?

Before embarking on a job search, think carefully about whether you would like full or part-time work, and what current commitments you have that need to be fitted around your new job.

The job market is changing – employers now tend to be more flexible about working hours and understanding of family commitments. There are many employers who are happy for people to work three or four days a week and many employers now allow employees to work from home.

Think about how many hours a week you can work to get the ‘work/life’ balance right for you and your family.

2. Working environment

What kind of environment do you enjoy working in? A job which keeps you outdoors will be great in the summer – but would you still be happy when it is a cold winter’s day? Do you thrive as part of a big team – or do you prefer to work by yourself?

returning to work to consider3. Cost of commuting

Before you embark on looking for work, write a quick list of your income and outgoings. Also, make a note of extra potential costs which you might incur once you are working.

For example – a 40 mile a day car journey will cost just under £6 a day; if you work five days a week it’s going to be around £120 a month just on petrol.

You will also be eating at lunch time. Will you take a packed lunch (which will increase the weekly household shopping bill) or will you buy your lunch from a shop daily?

Use this savvy spending calculator to see how costs add up – and what you can cut.

4. Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits

If you’re returning to work after being on certain benefits, some of your benefits could continue for a short while. Benefits linked to housing costs e.g. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit can continue for up to four weeks.

If you’re returning to work part-time you will need to declare your change in circumstances so that your benefit entitlement can be adjusted accordingly.

5. Childcare

If you have children, you will need to consider childcare. Finding the right kind of childcare that works for all the family is essential. However, there are any practical factors to consider:

  • What type of childcare fits in best with the demands of the new job?
  • How much will it cost, and how can you keep childcare costs down?
  • What would your back up option be if your child was sick and unable to attend childcare?
  • What would happen if you child’s carer was unwell?
  • Do you need different childcare for school holidays?
  • Can you use childcare vouchers to pay for this form of childcare?
  • Will you be entitled to working tax credits to pay for part or all of your childcare costs?
  • Do you need to be home by a certain time for your children? What would you do if you couldn’t get home in time to take the children to Scouts? 

6. Your perfect job

Securing a new job is very exciting – and is often the start of a new chapter in someone’s life. If you find a job that makes you happy and adds no stress to your life, it will not only give you greater wellbeing – but also your family. So before you apply for ‘the perfect’ job – make sure it really is!

Rebecca Spencer is head of campaigns at Turn2Us, a UK charity that helps people in financial need. As mum to a beautiful and active little boy, she knows how precious time and money is – there never seems to be enough of either! Here, she shares her practical tips to help MyFamilyClub readers in everyday money matters.