The government has responded its carer’s leave consultation, that it will introduce legislation to provide for five days’ unpaid carer’s leave per year for employees.

This will be a day one right that all employees can take on a flexible basis to allow them to provide care and assistance for someone with long-term care needs. There will be some notice requirements in place, but employees will be able to self-certify that they are entitled to take this leave. This right will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

Why had the government done this?

Around five million people in the UK provide unpaid support to an elderly or disabled relative or friend. Nearly half of those people combine their caring responsibilities with paid employment and try to balance both duties on at the same time. With an aging population, it means that these numbers are with no doubt going to continue to increase.

In the response to the 2020 consultation, the government has proposed all employees will:

  • Be entitled to carer’s leave as a day one right
  • Be able to take leave to provide care for an individual with a long-term care need
  • Have the ability to use the leave flexibly, in periods of half or full days up to the five-day maximum
  • Need to give their employer the same amount of notice to take leave as they would have to give to take a period of statutory holiday (generally twice as much notice as the period of leave requested)
  • Self-certify their entitlement to leave
  • Be protected against unfair treatment or dismissal because they have taken or pursued to take leave.

Who qualifies as a dependant?

The definition of a dependent is the same as for employees wanting to take emergency leave to deal wit an emergency. This includes parents, spouse/civil partner and children.

Other relatives, friends or unrelated children who live in the employee’s  home as family are also considered dependants. This would include a grandparent or other relative who lives in the family home and also includes unmarried / same-sex partners. It does not apply to someone in a commercial relationship, such as a live-in employee, lodger or tenant.

Others who ‘reasonably’ depend on the employee for help in case of an emergency also qualify as dependants. For example, an elderly or disabled neighbour whose usual care arrangements have fallen through may require assistance.

What else do you need to be aware of?

Carer’s leave also forms part of a package of new family friendly rights the government is proposing to introduce. These include an expanded right to request flexible working, extended redundancy protection for pregnant workers and new parents and finally, neonatal leave and pay. Carer’s leave will be introduced when parliamentary time allows – so, not be until mid-to late 2022 at the earliest.

4th October 2022

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