In Australia the policy balance has shifted away from institutional forms of health and aged care towards supporting people in their own homes. This change presupposes a significant and growing supply of informal caring labour. A large proportion of informal carers (40–60 per cent) currently combine paid employment with their caring responsibilities. Using the longitudinal Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, the paper examines the effect of caring on employment, hours worked and earnings. The analysis shows that working age carers experience disadvantage. Carers are more likely than non-carers to reduce their hours of work or exit from the labour force, and earn lower levels of income. In planning for an ageing population, policies will need to address these negative effects and privatised costs of caring if the supply of informal care is to be sustained in the future.