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A new right to time off for carers

In October 2022 the government stated that it would support a Private Members Bill seeking to introduce a right to unpaid time off for carers.

Following consultation, the government confirmed that it would introduce a new statutory right to time off. This would, however, be limited to one week of unpaid carers leave.

The government response to consultation confirmed that statutory leave would be available to all carers from commencement of employment.

The government confirmed that the leave would enable employees to take time off to care for a spouse, partner, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household or a person who reasonably relies on them for care. The individual being cared for would be required to have a long-term care need. The new Act refers to an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months, a disability as defined under the Equality Act, or, subject to exemptions, issues relating to old age. It is understood that the care leave can be used for providing care or making arrangements for care. It is further understood that the intention is that employees will be able to self-certify eligibility.

The government indicated that the leave, despite being a relatively short period, would be available to be taken flexibly, and could be split into days, half days, or taken in a one block.

It is understood that the provisions will provide for notice to be given to the employer, and that leave cannot be denied, but can be postponed in the event of likely undue disruption to the employer’s business.

The Act also provides protection for employees against suffering detriment as a result of exercising the right to leave carers leave.

Royal assent was granted in May 2023, and the bill became the Carers Leave Act 2023.

The government will still need to make further regulations to set out the full details of the entitlement. Those regulations will also be needed to bring the Act of Parliament into force. It is understood that this will not be before April 2024.

We will endeavour to update you in relation to developments and confirm when the Act comes into force.

This is not legal advice; It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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