Juggling work and care presents particular challenges to carers and employers. Employers are increasingly under pressure, both from within organizations and from recent government legislation and policy, to develop family-friendly policies to support informal carers in the workplace. Yet existing ‘family-friendly’ schemes and services are still primarily designed for working parents of young children and rarely address the needs of employees who care for older or disabled adults. This paper reports on a study which investigated how working carers and managers in two public sector organizations — a Social Services Department (SSD) and a National Health Service (NHS) Trust — combined their work and caring responsibilities. A multi-method approach was adopted consisting of five phases. First, a profile of the two organizations was established, followed by a short screening questionnaire to all employees to identify who was caring for an older adult over the age of 60. Third, a lengthier postal survey was sent to the 365 carers who had indicated a willingness to participate further. In the fourth and fifth phases, carers and managers were interviewed in depth about their experiences. This paper reports briefly on the survey, but then concentrates in particular on what was said in the interviews about what helps and hinders working carers of older adults. Despite the existence of policies to support carers, our findings suggest that these were far less important than informal support from colleagues and a sympathetic manager in the workplace. Commuting distance between work, home and the older person also posed difficulties for carers, along with inflexible schedules and work overload. Employers are urged to explore these issues further if they are serious about recruiting and retaining employees, and developing the work – life balance agenda to meet the needs of those caring for older and disabled adults.