Deciding to leave

Deciding to leave your job can be a difficult decision. You might need to spend more time with your family, your job or childcare may no longer be working out, or you might have to take some time out to look after your health or a loved one.

Once you’ve decided that you’re no longer able to work, there will be lots of changes to navigate. It’s natural to feel nervous about what will happen next, but by taking things step-by-step you can make your new situation work for your family. This guide will give you practical advice and information on what to prioritise, and how to make sure you’re receiving the help you’re entitled to.

Leaving a job

If you’re thinking about leaving your job, you should speak to your employer. You may be able to agree some time off or changes to your working hours or pattern to help you to stay in your job if you want to. Our factsheet on your rights in the workplace includes information about taking time off, your working hours, and dealing with problems at work. If you do have to leave, you will probably need to work a notice period, but this will vary depending on the terms of your employment contract. Details of your notice requirements will be in your contract of employment. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has useful information on how to terminate your employment and your work rights.

When you finish work, your employer will give you a P45 form. This gives details of your tax code, how much you’ve earned and how much tax you have paid. If you will be claiming jobseeker’s allowance, contributory employment and support allowance or universal credit, you may need to take your P45 to the Jobcentre Plus office. You may also receive a tax refund at the end of the financial year, or if you decide to move back into work, depending on how much tax you’ve paid. You can visit the HMRC website for more information about your P45 and tax.

Your finances

Making the decision to leave work may be influenced by your financial situation. You may be retiring, have savings or receive financial support from your child’s other parent. Or you may have no other financial support. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim some benefits for the first time. If you have been claiming some benefits whilst working, your entitlement will change when you leave work. The benefits you can claim may depend on the reason you have stopped working, and your individual circumstances.

You can use the Turn2us online benefit calculator to check what benefits and tax credits you’ll be entitled to. The calculation is made based on your individual circumstances, including if you have any other income or savings.

If you are receiving tax credits you’ll need to let the tax credits helpline know that you’ve left work as you’ll no longer qualify for working tax credit. You should still receive it for four weeks after you finish work. You should report the change within a month of leaving your job, but the sooner the better. You can continue to receive child tax credit when you are not working, or you may become entitled for the first time if you have not been getting any tax credits due to your earnings.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit system being rolled out gradually across the UK between now and 2022. In some areas single parents will now claim universal credit instead of the benefits and tax credits listed above.

For more information on universal credit and whether you’ll need to apply you can visit universal credit webpages or call the Helpline.