My post last week provided an update on three new pieces of legislation which have been given royal assent. Many will be of the view that it is a very positive thing that carers, whether paid or unpaid and the care that they provide, are being recognised as important and valuable to our society. Most people will not be disagreeing that it is a good thing that there is now going to be a legal right to unpaid leave for carers who have dependants outside of work. 

However, lots of employers, particularly those in the health and social care sector, will still have questions and concerns about how this new right will work in practice, bearing in mind that they have their own legal and regulatory responsibilities to provide sufficient staffing levels and good quality care.

So, with this in mind, we have prepared a list of the things that we do now about the new right to carer's leave and put it into this blog for you:

  • The Carer's Leave Act was given royal assent on 24 May 2023.
  • We are currently awaiting a commencement date for the legislation. We have seen some suggestion that it will come into force sometime after April 2024.
  • The Bill amends S.80 Employment Rights Act 1996 to allow an employee to take at least 1-week unpaid leave in any period of 12 months to provide or arrange care for a dependent with a long-term care need.
  • A dependent is classed as:
    • a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee, 
    • someone living in the same household (apart from a lodger or tenant), or 
    • someone who would reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care – so a very wide definition.
  • A dependant has long-term care needs if:
    • they have an illness or injury that requires or is likely to require, care for more than three months, 
    • they have a disability under the Equality Act 2010, or
    • they require care for a reason connected with their old age.
  • Employees will be protected from dismissal or detriment for taking carer's leave.
  • Employees will be able to bring an Employment Tribunal claim if their employer unreasonably postpones a period of carer’s leave or prevents or attempts to prevent an employee from taking the carer’s leave. We await further details about what is likely to constitute as postponement or preventing.
  • This will be a 'day one right' meaning no need for qualifying service.
  • The right is only available to employees, however.
  • At the moment, we understand that a week will mean up to five days and that the leave may be flexible, meaning can be taken in one block, or separate individual blocks.

We await further regulations which will cover the detail that many employers are currently looking for, such as the amount of notice to be given by the employee and how the leave can be taken.

We will be blogging more about this topic as soon as we know further details. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss any draft policies or how this new right might affect your organisation, please get in touch with Hannah Bollard or another member of the team.