Carer’s Leave Law: What Employers Need To Know

example of carers leave at work

In this article, we will explain what carer’s leave is, who’s entitled to it and what steps employees need to take to get it.

Key Facts

  • Carer’s leave law is on its way to becoming law in the UK.
  • Carer’s leave law, once passed, would protect one week of unpaid leave for every employee in the UK.
  • Until the law is passed, it is recommended to follow NHS guidance regarding carer-related leave for employees.

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What Is Carer’s Leave?

Carer’s leave is when an employee takes off or leaves work to care for a loved one with a long-term illness. According to Carers UK, millions of those living in the UK juggle work and caretaking responsibilities at the same time.

In March 2020, the UK government moved forward with a recommendation to implement a carer’s leave law that would provide qualifying employees with one week off annually of unpaid carer’s leave. But there remains uncertainty about when the right will become a law. As of August 2022, the parliamentary bill that would make this law is in its second reading.

How Is Carer’s Leave Regulated by Law?

Since the bill hasn’t become an official law yet, uncertainties remain when it comes to carer’s leave entitlement. According to gov.uk, while protected time off is available for family and dependants, the time off afforded is determined by the employer. This is different from the regulations surrounding maternity leave in the UK. Also, according to Carers UK, the Queen did not mention the bill relating to carer’s leave in her speech this year, which means that the government didn’t bring it forward.

Ultimately, the NHS recommends that employers mind the government’s response to the consultation, understanding local policies and learn how they would be affected by the statutory carer’s leave.

Who Is Eligible for Carer’s Leave?

Here’s who would qualify for carer’s leave in the UK:

  • Only employees would be eligible for carer’s leave, with employees being eligible starting on their first day of work.
  • It would apply to dependants only. This includes spouses, partners, children, parents, siblings, grandparents or someone who lives with the employee who is dependent on them for care.
  • The dependant is required to have long-term care needs, whether physical or mental.

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Do I Have To Pay Employees Who Are on Carer’s Leave?

No, the time off is unpaid for the proposed carer’s leave bill. But an employer may pay for the time off. This should be in the employer’s contract or the organisation’s handbook.

Necessary Steps To Use and Take Carer’s Leave

To take carer’s leave, an employee has to provide double the amount of notice. For example, if an employee needs one day off, they would need to provide two days’ notice. The one week allotment can be used at once or separated throughout the year. You cannot reject a request if it meets the eligibility criteria; you may be able to move it, however.

Evidence Employees Have To Provide

The employee won’t be required to present evidence. They would self-certify that they qualify for carer’s leave.

Carer’s Leave Protections

Carer’s leave protects employees from repercussions for requesting or taking carer’s leave. If the employee is let go, their dismissal would be considered unfair.

Frequently Asked Questions About Carer’s Leave

Is There Carer’s Leave in the UK?

Currently, there is no carer’s leave law in the UK, but Parliament is considering a bill to help it become law. Click here to read NHS recommendations in the meantime.

What Evidence Do Employees Need To Provide To Obtain Carer’s Leave?

Employees do not have to provide evidence in order to obtain carer’s leave.

Is Carer’s Leave Statutory?

Carer’s leave is not statutory yet. There are still uncertainties when it comes to carer’s leave entitlement. While protected time off is available for family and dependents, the time off is determined by the employer.

Can Carer’s Leave Be Refused?

Carer’s leave cannot be refused if you’re given enough notice. In general, employees are protected from repercussions for requesting carer’s leave.

Keep Your Organisation Up to Date

While carer’s leave has not yet been introduced, you can take action to ensure your organisation follows all policies as they become applicable.

Personio makes it easier to keep track of time off, absences and attendance, including personal time to care for an ill family member. Book your free demo to learn how Personio helps you manage everything in one place.

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