New Right to Carer’s Leave Announced – Five Fast Facts

Published September 24 2021

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Following a consultation which took place last year, the government has now confirmed that a new right to carer’s leave will be introduced for unpaid carers who are balancing a job with caring for a dependant.

So, what do we know about the new right so far?

Carer’s Leave: Five Fast Facts

1. Who will be eligible?

Carer’s leave will be a day one right available to employees who have a ‘qualifying relationship’ with a person who, in most cases, has a long term care need.

It is expected that the relationship required between the carer and the person being cared for will be broadly similar to the definition of a dependant used in the right to time off for dependants. As such, that is a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger, or boarder) or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.

With regard to the requirement for there to be a ‘long term care need’, this would be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act, or issues related to old age. There will be some exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.

2. What could the leave be used for?

It is expected that it will be able to be used for providing care or making arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who requires long-term care.

3. How much leave can be taken and will there be any rules around this?

The right will be to one week of carer’s leave per year per employee. It will be available to be taken flexibly, either in individual days or half days, up to a block of one week. To take carer’s leave an employee will need to give notice that is twice the length of time being requested as leave, plus one day.

To enable employers to manage and plan for absences, they may be able to postpone but not deny the leave request for carer’s leave, although the grounds on which this can be done will be strictly limited.

As you would expect, employees will be protected from being subjected to a detriment or being dismissed for reasons connected with carer’s leave.

4. Will carer’s leave be paid or unpaid?

There will be no statutory right to pay when taking carer’s leave, although employers could choose to offer pay for this time if they wish to do so.

5. When will the new right start?

We do not have a date for implementation yet. The government has said that legislation to introduce carer’s leave as a statutory employment right will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.

We will keep you updated on developments in this area. In the meantime, if you have an employment law matter which you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.