HR UPDATE – Carer’s Leave Act from 6 April 2024

Apr 8, 2024 | News

The Carer’s Act makes provision for unpaid leave for employees to unpaid leave 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 by the Equality Act 2010)
  • care needs because of their old age

The dependent does not have to be a family member. It can be anyone who relies on them for care.

This leave is a day-one right, available to all employees without any qualifying period. This leave is unpaid or you may have discretion and/or a special leave policy, which allows paid carers leave. Their employment rights (like holidays and returning to their job) are protected during carer’s leave.

The maximum duration of the leave is one week every 12 months. A ‘week’ referring to the amount of time they usually work over seven days. It can be taken as individual or half days split throughout the year, or all at once. Employees need to give their employer notice before they want their leave to start. Employees do not need to give evidence of their dependant’s care needs.

While employers can’t deny an employee’s request for carer’s leave, they can ask the employee to take it at a different time. They can only do this, if the employee’s absence would cause serious disruption to the organisation if it were approved. If the employer delays the carers leave, they must:

  • agree another date within one month of the requested date for the leave
  • 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 have to give at least three days’ notice to take leave or, for a request of more than one day, double as long as the requested leave.

According to Carers UK’s state of caring 2023 survey, as many as two in five (40%) of employees with unpaid caring duties are quitting their job. 2m employees in the UK are balancing carrying responsibilities with work. Therefore, access to this unpaid leave, provides additional flexibility and support to enable carers to balance their responsibilities.

“Raising awareness with employees is key, as well as reviewing current policies and procedures to ensure that these new entitlements are offered and implemented. It’s worth noting that it can take an average of two years for someone to acknowledge their role as a carer” Samantha Hulson, Managing Director, Birch-HR

Contact Birch-HR for more information on carer’s and special leave

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