What Do Employers Need to Know About Carer’s Leave?

Julian cole portrait.

Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411

Email jcole@bsandi.co.uk

From next year, employees will be able to take statutory unpaid leave to care for a dependant.

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 introduces one of several changes to apply from April and will be welcomed by those struggling to balance their work and their unpaid caring responsibilities towards friends and family. More details about the right and how employees can exercise it will be released soon. In the meantime, what do we expect carer’s leave to look like?

This is separate from the existing right                                                                      

Currently, employees have the right to take time off to care for dependants in an emergency – where their child falls ill, for example. The new right extends beyond these unforeseen situations.

It’s the right to take one week’s unpaid leave per year

The purpose of the leave is to care for a dependant who has a long-term care need.

‘Dependant’ includes a spouse, civil partner or child; someone who lives in the same household as the employee but isn’t a boarder, employee, lodger or tenant; or someone who reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care.

A dependant has a ‘long-term care need’ if they: have a physical or mental illness or injury that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months; have a disability under the Equality Act 2010; or require care for a reason connected with old age.

 he leave doesn’t have to be taken all at once                                                                                  

The employee can choose to take parts of the leave at various points in the year or to take the five days in one go.

They’ll need to give notice                                                                                                           

Notice needs to be at least twice the length of time they want to take, plus one day. So, if the employee wants to take two days, they’ll need to give their employer at least five days’ notice.

The employer may be able to postpone the leave

Carer’s leave is a statutory right and so employers must allow it. However, the employer may likely be able to postpone the leave if ‘reasonable’.

There’s protection from dismissal or detriment

Carer’s leave must not lead to the employee being dismissed or subjected to a detriment at work.

 It’s a day one right

Employees don’t have to have worked for their employer for a certain amount of time before getting the right to take carer’s leave. It applies from the first day of their employment.

Employers should have a carer’s leave policy

Employers will need to put in place a policy before employees start exercising their right to carer’s leave. We can help.

Between now and April 2024, we’ll see the intricacies of the new right emerge and we’ll all have a far better picture of how carer’s leave will work. For now, it’s a case of getting to grips with the framework of the new right and gearing up to hit the ground running when it all comes into practice.

For advice about carer’s leave, or any employee or workplace-related issue, contact our team on 01264 353411.

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