Carer’s leave – information for employers
Published: November 12 2021
Following a consultation last year, the government has announced that it will be introducing Carer’s leave, which offers ‘day one’ rights for people who are balancing working alongside caring responsibilities.
Currently, it is not clear when the new right will be introduced, but we expect that it will be in 2022.
What is Carer’s leave?
The aim of this legislation is to ensure that Carer’s leave is widely available to those who need it, while making sure that the impact on employers is proportionate.
Once the legislation is implemented, employees will have a statutory right to take up to one week (five working days) of unpaid leave per year.
It is important to note that Carer’s leave is separate to parental and dependants leave, which is designed for use in emergency situations.
What can Carer’s leave be used for?
Carer’s leave may be used for providing care or planning for the provision of care for a dependant who requires long-term care. This includes secondary carers who provide respite to primary carers.
There are no strict rules regarding the length of care, but the emphasis is on the need to focus on long-term care needs.
Carer’s leave – employees’ rights:
- Carer’s leave will be a ‘day one’ right for all workers.
- The right is to unpaid leave only.
- It will be based upon the relationship of the employee with the person being cared for and will broadly follow the definition of ‘dependant’ which is applied for dependants leave. For example, a spouse, partner, civil partner, child or parent who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger, or border) or a person who reasonably relies on them for care.
- It is dependent on the person being cared for having a long-term care need as defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), or a disability, as defined under the Equality Act 2010.
- Employees taking Carer’s leave will be protected from detriment. Dismissals for reasons connected with employees’ exercising the right to Carer’s leave will be automatically unfair.
There will be limited exemptions from the requirement of long-term care, such as in the case of terminal illness.
How to use Carer’s leave
We have summarised some key considerations for employers to be aware of.
- Carer’s leave can be taken flexibly, either in individual days or half days, up to a block of one week.
- Employees must provide you with notice of twice the length of the leave being requested, plus one day.
- You may postpone a request for Carer’s leave if it will unduly disrupt your business services, but note that counter notice will be required. However, you may not deny a request for Carer’s leave.
- Employees can self-certify their entitlement to Carer’s leave without needing to provide evidence. You may introduce your own requirement of evidence, but you must consider GDPR (evidence may involve the disclosure of medical information relating to a third-party). Falsified requests can be dealt with the same way as any other disciplinary matter.
Guidance and recommendations for employers
At this time, we recommend that you consider preparing a written policy explaining your employees’ rights regarding Carer’s leave. This should include procedures for requesting such leave, and whether evidence of eligibility will be required. You may also want to include whether your organisation will be enhancing the right by offering additional and/or paid leave to employees.
As an employer, you should also review the need for line management training to support managers in understanding how to respond to any requests submitted.
If you plan to offer additional paid leave, this must form part of the particulars of employment given to an employee on the first day of their employment. This can be either in their employment contract, or another document such as a Staff Handbook.
If you require further information on how Carer’s leave will affect your organisation, or support on the issues covered in this article, please fill out our enquiry form below or call us to discuss how we can support you.
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