8 Apr 2024

What you need to know about the Carers Leave Act

The Carers Leave Act was confirmed in law in May 2023 and the regulations that translate it into practical use are effective on April 6th 2024. This new piece of legislation will give employees the right to take up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave each 12 months from the first day of their employment.

The aim of the legislation is to make it simpler for employees with unpaid caring responsibilities to provide or arrange care for a dependant with long term care requirements.

What is Carers Leave?

It is unpaid leave for employees to give or arrange care for a ‘dependant’ who has:

  • A physical or mental illness or injury that means they’re expected to need care for more than 3 months.
  • A disability (as defined in the Equality Act 2010).
  • Care needs because of their old age.

What does the detail of the Carers Leave Act 2023 say?

  • It creates a new statutory unpaid leave entitlement for unpaid carers of a dependant with a long-term care need as outlined above.
  • Employees (not workers) will have a day-one right to take up to five working days of unpaid leave a year (the number of days will depend on their working week e.g. someone working 3 days a week would be entitled to up to 3 days leave).
  • Employees will be able to take this leave in single or half-days with a notice requirement of double the length of leave requested plus one day.
  • Employers are able to postpone (but not deny) leave where “the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted” by serving a counter-notice.
  • If employers do have sufficient reason to postpone, they will need to agree another date within one month of the requested date for the leave. They will need to put the reason for the delay and new date in writing to the employee within 7 days of the original request, and before the requested start date of the leave.
  • Employees will not be required to produce proof of why the leave is required.

What do I need to do?

  • Raise awareness about what unpaid caring means for employees and identifying those who would be covered by the new legislation.
  • Review your existing policies, procedures and arrangements – you may already have a carers policy in place which meets the needs (or goes beyond) the requirements. If not, providing a mechanism for employees to request unpaid leave and communicating this to them should be on your to do list.

Things to know

  • Note that it does not apply to casual workers only employees.
  • The dependant in question does not have to be a family member.
  • The maximum entitlement is one week – this is irrespective of the number of dependants covered by the legislation.
  • An employee’s employment rights (for example annual leave and the right to return to their role) are protected during carer’s leave.
  • If an employee is a parent, they can take up to 18 weeks’ leave to look after their child. This is separate to carer’s leave.

We are here to assist you to understand and adapting to these changes, ensuring a smooth transition into the new requirements. Please contacts us on info@thehrbranch.co.uk or 01522 275105.