On 19 May 2023, the Carer’s Leave Bill had its third reading in the House of Lords, and upon receiving Royal Assent, will become law. There is not yet a date for the implementation of this bill, however it is likely that this will happen relatively quickly upon receiving Royal Assent, so is definitely one to keep an eye on.
What does the bill provide?
The bill proposes to give all eligible employees one week’s unpaid statutory leave every 12 months to provide or arrange care for dependents with a long-term care need. This leave will be available to eligible employees from the first day of their employment.
There are not yet full details on how this leave is going to be implemented but it is intended that employees will be able to take the leave flexibly to suit the employee’s caring responsibilities, and the bill stipulates that the employee will not need to provide any evidence of how the leave is used or who it will be used for.
The bill also sets out that as with other family-related leave, employees making use of this statutory leave will be protected from dismissal or any detriment as a result of having taken time off.
Who can the leave be used to care for?
A dependent in the bill is defined as a person who:
- (i) is a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee;
- (ii) lives in the same household as the employee (except for those who are the employee’s boarder, employee, lodger or tenant); or
- (iii) reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care
The dependent is considered to have a long-term care need if:
- (i) they have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months;
- (ii) they have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010; or
- (iii) they require care for a reason connected with their old age.
Impact of the Bill
Carers UK, a charity which provides support for carers across the UK, have stated that “37% of working carers said they needed unpaid Carer’s Leave, and a further 1 in 7 said if they didn’t get it, they would have to reduce working hours or give up work altogether.” Right to Carer’s Leave | Carers UK
It is clear that this bill will provide important support and protection for those employees with caring needs, and should allow those employees to stay in the workforce, with some of the burden of caring whilst employed reduced.
Many employers already have similar policies in place, often offering more, including paid leave to their employees with caring responsibilities. For those, this bill may not make a huge difference.
However, for those employers who do not already have such a policy in place, the implementation of this bill may also be causing concerns around the administrative burden of further statutory leave and the potential for misuse where no evidence needs to be provided by the employee.
If you are an employer, and are concerned about the implementation of this policy in your workplace, please do get in touch with one of our employment team who will be happy to advise and help you put in place a carer’s leave policy for your company that works for your requirements.