Following a 2020 consultation, the government has confirmed it will give unpaid carers one week’s unpaid leave per year from their first day of employment.
- The new entitlement to statutory carer’s leave will:
- be available to the employee irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer (a Day 1 right)
- rely on the carer’s relationship with the person being cared for, which should broadly follow the definition of dependant used in the right to time off for dependants – a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger, or boarder) or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care, and
- depend on the person being cared for having a long-term care need. This would be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age. There would be limited exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.
- Leave will be able to be taken either as a single block of one week or individual days or half days.
- Employees will be required to give notice ahead of taking carer’s leave. The notice requirement will be in line with that of annual leave, where an employee must give notice that is twice the length of time being requested as leave, plus one day. To enable employers to manage and plan for absences, employers will be able to postpone - but not deny - the leave request for carer’s leave. The grounds on which they can do so will be strictly limited to where the employer considers that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted. Employers will be required to give a counter-notice if postponing the request to take carer’s leave.
- Employees will be able to self-certify their entitlement to carer’s leave.
- Those taking carer’s leave will be protected from suffering from detriment. Dismissals for reasons connected with exercising the right to carer’s leave will be automatically unfair.
There is no timetable for implementation, the government simply saying that legislation will be introduced ‘when Parliamentary time allows’.