Ashleigh Green, Solicitor at Napthens, gives more details about the Carer’s Bill and the benefits it could bring if it becomes law in 2024.
The Government recently announced its support for the Carer’s Leave Bill (‘the Bill’) which, if passed, will give employees who are also carers a new right to one week’s unpaid leave.
The Bill will allow employees to take up to 5 days’ unpaid leave per year to provide and arrange care for a dependent with a long-term care need. The proposed Bill aims to provide further support to employees who care for loved ones but are also employed as it is estimated over 2 million people who provide unpaid care must balance work alongside caring for others.
Currently, there is no right to carer’s leave in the UK and carers must rely on other forms of leave during their employment to fulfil their caring duties. Whilst eligible employees can submit a flexible working request there is no guarantee any request to adjust an employee’s contractual terms will be agreed by the employer. Therefore, the proposed Bill aims to go further in order to guarantee time off for carers as a ‘day-one’ right, in addition to the opportunity to take other employment leave entitlement.
What is a carer?
An employee may be a carer under the proposed Bill following consideration of the employee’s relationship with the dependant, as the dependant must be either:
- A family member
- A member of the same household, or
- Otherwise, must be someone who reasonably relies on the carer
It is believed the dependant must also have a long-term care need in that:
- They will likely require care for more than 3 months
- Their condition constitutes a disability under the Equality Act, or
- They require care because of their old age
When might the Bill become law?
It is likely the right to carer’s leave will come into law in 2024, however the specific detail of the Bill has not been confirmed such as how leave should be requested, restrictions on the number of days that can be taken at one time and how the right to leave will be balanced against business needs.
This Bill will give much needed support to assist unpaid carers to remain in employment, whilst fulfilling their caring obligations. Whilst this is clearly beneficial for employees, it is hoped that in providing this assistance to employees, employers will be able to retain talent within their businesses too.
If passed, the Bill will improve the financial position of carers in the short and long term as they will be more able to juggle both their work and care obligations, which during such a trying time is a welcome proposal to all.
If you have any questions in relation to any employment law issue, then please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Napthens’ Employment Team or use the enquiries form on your QCS dashboard to book a free 30-minute call back.