As the UK population ages, the rights of unpaid carers is a growing concern. With over 5 million unpaid carers in the UK,  many individuals are having to balance paid work with their caring responsibilities – so what are the rights of unpaid carers in the UK?

Existing employment rights for carers

  1. Dependants leave

In the UK, employees are entitled to dependants leave. This allows employees a “reasonable” amount of time off to be able to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

There is no set amount of time off for dependants leave- what is considered to be a reasonable will be determined by the employer.

  1. The right to request flexible working

Since 2014, all employees who have worked for the same employer continuously for the last 26 weeks have a right to request flexible working. Flexible working allows employees to work in a way that suits their needs. This may include, working part time, working from home, job sharing or working compressed hours.

Whilst employees have a right to request flexible working, there is no guarantee that employers will accept such a request. An employer is able to refuse a request if they have a good business reason for doing so.

  1. Unpaid parental leave

This allows parents a period of up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave during each year to allow them to spend time with their children.

  1. Statutory leave

All workers and employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year.

The Government’s Consultation

Juggling paid work and unpaid care can have adverse employment consequences as well as a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing. As a result of the challenges faced by carers, the government launched a consultation earlier this year. The consultation focuses on supporting carers in their employment and caring responsibilities.

One proposal is to introduce a statutory entitlement to cares leave. Carers would be entitled to one week of unpaid leave each year. This would allow them to provide care during their normal working hours and would enable employers to reduce staff turnover as a result of carers leaving the labour market.

The consultation also looked at:

  1. Who would be eligible to take the new leave?
  2. What leave could be taken?
  3. How can the leave be taken?
  4. How could the request for leave be made?
  5. What would be the impact on both employers and employees?

Victoria Tallis, Paralegal

4 September 2020

FREE first advice

Have you ever wanted to just ask an expert employment law solicitor if they can help you, without worrying about what it may cost to contact them?

Get in touch

We’d like to talk to you to see what we can do to help, so please either call us anytime for free on 08000 614 631, email us or use the form below.

Together we can work out what your next steps might confidence, at no cost and with no obligation.


* indicates required
McCabe and Co Solicitors will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.
We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.