‘Carer’s leave’ to become law

Julian cole portrait.

Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411

Email jcole@bsandi.co.uk

A bill proposing that people with caring responsibilities be entitled to time off from work is set to become law, after recently receiving Royal Assent.

The Carer’s Leave Act is expected to come into force next year, bringing with it some much-needed relief for millions of employees who are struggling to juggle work and looking after dependant family or friends who have a ‘long-term’ need for care. The law will introduce a right to a week’s unpaid leave each year, which is in addition to other forms of workplace leave. And, because it sits as a standalone entitlement, it means carers can take advantage of it instead of dipping into their holiday leave, as often happens currently.  

This new law will mark a significant change for working carers, and one that we hope will ease some of the pressures that come with balancing competing needs. The right will apply from the first day of employment, so a person doesn’t have to have been working for their employer for a particular time before being entitled to take the leave. And in some cases, it may be the difference between a working carer staying in their job and progressing in their career, and leaving.

Employers are free to formulate their own leave or flexibility provisions (as long as terms at least meet the minimum legal requirements), and policies may already offer some similar form of time off, or even a paid version of carer’s leave. But when the Carer’s Leave Act comes into force, all employers will need to ensure the minimum one week’s time off provision is properly incorporated into workplace policies and is applied properly and consistently across the workforce. Note also that, as with other types of family-related leave, employees who take carer’s leave will be protected from being dismissed or from suffering a detriment because of the leave.

For advice about policies, leave, or any other workplace issue, contact us on 01264 353411 or at info@bsandi.co.uk.

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