The New Carer’s Leave Act

The New Carer’s Leave Act

From April 2024, employees who balance their employment commitments with a caring role could be entitled to take up to one week of leave to provide or arrange urgent care provisions for a dependant, as a result of the all-new Carers Leave Act.

What is the Carer’s Leave Act?

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 came in force on the 6th April 2024 and has been designed to help employees to juggle their caring responsibilities alongside their employment. Under the new Act, an employee is entitled to take up to one week of unpaid leave in any 12-month period. Employees will gain this entitlement from the very first day of their employment, regardless of the length of their service. Carer’s Leave can be requested for a minimum of half a day right up to a full week, providing that the total number of days off does not exceed one typical working week in total within a 12-month period.

Who is eligible to take Carer’s Leave?

An employee is eligible to request Carer’s Leave from the first day of their employment, providing that the care they are going to be providing is to a dependant, which can include either a spouse or civil partner, parent, child, someone who lives in the employee’s household, or to any other person who reasonably relies on the employee for care, a neighbour for example. The dependant in question must require long-term care, which generally means that they suffer with a disability or an illness or injury that is expected to last for 3 months or longer.

How much notice does an employee need to give their employer to take Carer’s Leave?

If an employee is eligible and wishes to take Carer’s Leave, notice must be provided to the Employer. The minimum amount of notice an employee will need to provide is dependent on the number of days they wish to take off as leave. The notice that an employee must give ranges from a minimum of 3 days to a maximum of 12 days, unless a shorter period can be agreed between the employee and employer.

Can a request for Carer’s leave be rejected?

In short, the answer is no. An employer cannot turn down a request for Carer’s Leave. However, they may postpone the leave if it will cause significant disruption to the business. An employer is only able to postpone the initially requested period of leave for up to one month.

What does this mean in practice?

For employees, this new regime might provide a lifeline and help them to put in place urgent care provisions for a loved one. However, Carer’s Leave is unpaid unless otherwise indicated by the employer, so employees might want to consider what other types of leave, if any, might be available to them.

For employers, the Act creates new terrain which needs to be carefully navigated through. Employers will need to act cautiously in considering any requests for Carer’s Leave to fulfil their duties under the Act, while also being mindful of how the needs of their business might be affected. Employers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the new Act and review or update their workplace policies to reflect the new legislation, and to actively communicate the changes to managers and provide training where necessary.

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