New entitlement to carer’s leave to be introduced

Alongside the announcement of the right for flexible working requests to be made from day 1, the Government last week also published their intention to introduce an entitlement for unpaid carers to 1 week of carer’s leave per year, following an earlier consultation process.

Figures suggest that around 5 million people in the UK provide care on an unpaid basis, and that of those 5 million, almost half do so in addition to being in full or part-time employment.

Some of the key points regarding carer’s leave include:

  • The leave will be unpaid
  • It will be available from the start of someone’s employment (so a ‘day 1 right’)
  • Eligibility for the leave will be broadly based on the current definition for dependant’s leave, so the employee would need to be the carer for their:
    • Spouse or civil partner
    • Child
    • Parent
    • A person who lives in the same household as the employee (unless it is by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder)
    • A person who reasonably relies on the employee for care
  • Subject to some limited exemptions, the person being cared for would be required to have a long-term care need, defined as:
    • A long-term illness or injury (physical or mental)
    • A disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010; or
    • Issues related to old age
  • It can be taken flexibly from half day blocks to a whole week
  • As the leave is intended for planned caring responsibilities, and not emergencies as covered by dependants leave, there will be a minimum notice period to take the leave of twice the length of time being taken plus one day
  • Employees will be able to self-certify their entitlement to carers leave

 

The Government are looking to introduce the right “when Parliamentary time allows” so there is no clear timeframe for when this new form of leave will be available, but employers should begin preparing for it coming into effect by creating a policy and ensuring managers and employees are aware of the impending changes.

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