Around 7% of the UK population are carers, and 36% of them are juggling full-time employment and caring responsibilities¹. The government responded to the Carer’s Leave Consultation (2021)² stating they will introduce a new employment right which provides carers with one week (5 working days) of unpaid leave to carry out caring responsibilities as suggested in the Carer’s Action Plan (2018-2020)³.
The leave will be accessible to working carers as a day 1 employment right and can be used flexibly. Those eligible to take this leave must care for someone with long term needs covered as a disability under the Equality Act (2010)⁴. Those under the responsibility of the carer must be one of the following:
- Parent or child
- Spouse or civil partner
- Living in the same household, excluding tenants/boarders
- A person who reasonably relies on the employee for care
Appropriate reason’s for taking Carer’s Leave are:
- Personal support, such as keeping an eye on someone, providing company and staying in touch.
- Practical support, such as making meals, shopping for them, laundry, cleaning, gardening, maintenance, and other domestic jobs.
- Aiding with official or financial matters, such as helping with paperwork, dealing with ‘officials’ in person or over the phone and internet, paying bills/rents/rates, collecting pension/benefits.
- Personal and/or medical care, such as collecting prescriptions, administrating medications, changing dressings, aiding with their mobility, getting dressed, feeding, washing, bathing, using the toilet.
- Planning arrangements, such as contacting social services or the voluntary sector, moving someone into a care home, making home adjustments or adaptations.
Those who use their leave will be required to give a notice period of twice the length of time requested off, plus one day. There will be no need to provide evidence to justify their leave, reasons will be self-certified.
Employees will be protected from prejudice and dismissal connected to Carer’s Leave as it will be judged unfair. However, if employees falsely use their leave, it will be treated as a dishonesty offence which could be used as grounds for dismissal. As staff are not legally required to provide evidence to justify leave then it may be difficult to prove it has been falsely used.
To avoid confusion and/or tribunals, it would be wise for employers to create a policy that protects both themselves and employees by clarifying their rights regarding carer’s leave. There is no set date as to when this employment right will take effect, but we always keep our clients abreast of updates in employment law and help ensure they are adequately prepared and protected. Contact our HR experts for information and guidance on how to ensure that you are prepared for this and all other upcoming legislation changes.