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Currently there is no specific right for carers to take leave. However in 2023, the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 made provision for employees who have caring responsibilities to take at least one week of unpaid carer’s leave per year. This received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023 and is expected to become law from 6 April 2024.

This means that carers will have a new statutory right to take at least one week of unpaid leave right from the beginning of when their employment starts. This will allow them to provide or arrange care for a long-term dependant.

Who is entitled to carer’s leave?

Everyone who meets the eligibility requirements will be entitled to carer’s leave from day one of their service. To be eligible, an employee must:

Dependants are defined as a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee and they must live in the same household. Dependants do not include someone who lives in the same household but is a lodger, employee or tenant.

For the purposes of this Act, someone with a long-term care need could be someone with an illness or injury (physical or mental) that needs care for more than three months, they may have a disability that falls under the Equality Act 2010 or are considered to have ‘old age’ issues.

Carer’s leave can be taken either as half days or as full days equalling up to one week in any 12 month period. The leave does not have to be consecutive days, it can be odd days throughout the 12 month period.

What do employees and employers need to do?

Employees must give their employers notice before they take carer’s leave, specifying the dates or part dates that they want to take it. They must also provide the name of the dependant that they are providing or arranging the care for.

The required notice period is either twice as many days as the period of leave required, or three days, whichever is the greater. The notice does not need to be in writing and an employer cannot require evidence in relation to the request before granting the leave. An employer may waive the notice requirement where the other requirements of the regulations have been met.

From an employer viewpoint, they can not refuse carer’s leave but they can postpone it.

Next steps for Carer’s Leave

The regulations come into force in April 2024. Until that time, employers should consider and prepare to include these regulations in any procedures and policy documentation relevant to their business.

Bowcock & Pursaill’s employment law specialist, Clare Thomas, has a wealth of experience and is available to offer advice and guidance on how to do this. Clare can ensure that your business correctly applies these new regulations to your employees and can help update any policies around Carer’s Leave. If you’d like to discuss how this legislation will affect your business, how it will operate in practice, the protections offered to employees who intend to or may take the leave and what you need to do next, please get in touch.

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