The Government has published its response to the consultation on carer’s leave, which was launched back in March 2020. The aim of the consultation was to look at ways of supporting the estimated 5 million people who provide unpaid care to an elderly or disabled relative or friend. Approximately half of these unpaid carers also work.
As a result of the consultation, the Government has confirmed it plans to introduce a right for unpaid carers to take up to one week (five working days) of unpaid leave per year. Some points to note:
- The new entitlement would be a day one right (no qualifying service required)
- The carers relationship with the person requiring care is likely to broadly follow the definition of dependant used in the current right to time off for dependants (which includes a spouse/civil partner, child, parent or someone who otherwise reasonably relies on the employee for care)
- The leave will be available to be taken flexibly, in blocks of one week or in individual day or half days
- Employees will need to provide twice the length of notice as the time off for carer’s leave to be taken, plus one day
- Employers will have a limited ability to postpone the leave to manage and plan for absences, and only where business would be unduly disrupted by the carer’s leave
- No evidential requirements will introduced – any false applications could be dealt with as a disciplinary matter
- There will be protection for employees who suffer a detriment or are dismissed as a result of exercising the right to carer’s leave
The Government has said that legislation to introduce Carer’s Leave will be brought forward “when parliamentary time allows”. Given this fairly non-committal timetable, it is possible that these planned changes may not be implemented for some time.