Carer’s Leave Bill: a step in the right direction?

October 28, 2022
Joan Pettingill


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The government has recently confirmed that it supports the Carer’s Leave Bill. We await an implementation date when the new rules will be called the Carer’s Leave Act 2022.

The Carer’s Leave Bill has had its readings in the House of Commons. It is now in the Committee stage.

Once it does become law, the rules will create a new entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave each year for employees who are providing or arranging care for a dependent with a long-term care need. This is currently defined in the Bill as a dependent with a care need of three months or more, or if they have a disability or need care due to old age.

The new leave entitlement will be available to eligible employees from day one of their employment. Eligible employees will be able to take the leave flexibly to suit their caring responsibilities and will not need to provide evidence of how the leave is used or who it will be used for. Although this will create a smooth process for employees the process is not likely to be welcomed by employers who wish to know why an employee is taking time off and that time off is genuine. That said, the legislation is fairly balanced in that it is for “just” a week.

Employees taking carer’s leave will have the same legal protections already associated with other types of family-friendly leave. This means employees using the new care leave will be protected from dismissal or detriment as a result of having taken time off for that purpose. Employers will still be able to take action if the time off is abused and not taken for this purpose so it is important that employees use the new rights properly.

There are likely to be additional regulations made about the extent of an employee’s entitlement and when the leave may actually be taken.

Although a boost for carers, those with genuine caring responsibilities may feel that whilst a step in the right direction, one week a year probably isn’t going to make a huge difference. It should not be forgotten however that this new entitlement is in addition to existing entitlements to request flexible working, unpaid time off provisions for children and emergency dependent care entitlements.

Proactive employers will wish to watch out for the legislation being implemented and in due course update contracts of employment, policies and procedures.

For further information about policies, procedures, employment contracts and employment law, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] or telephone Joan Pettingill, partner in our employment law team on 07398334777.

Please note this is a general employment law update and not intended to be legal advice. Although every effort is made for updates to be accurate, employers should take specific advice on their particular business circumstances.

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