Carer’s Leave coming into force on 6 April 2024

A new form of family leave is to be introduced with effect from 6 April 2024 – Carer’s Leave.

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This important new right will be available to all employees, regardless of how long they have been employed. Carer’s Leave grants the right to take up to one week of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to arrange or provide care for a dependent with a long-term care need.

As the leave can be taken as a whole week or, alternatively, in half or full day increments, it provides flexibility to suit the specific care responsibilities of the employee.

To qualify for the leave, the employee must have a ‘dependent’ with a ‘long-term care need’. This means that the definitions of these terms are important when assessing eligibility.

  • A spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee
  • Somebody who lives in the same household but is not a boarder, employee, lodger or tenant of the employee, or
  • Reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care.
  • Have an illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require care for more than three months
  • Have a disability under the Equality Act 2010, or
  • Requires care for a reason connected with old age.

Although there are formal notice requirements that an employee wishing to take leave must comply with, the Regulations make clear that an employer is not permitted to require evidence from the employee when the leave is requested.

Inevitably, there will be occasions where an employee wishes to take Carer’s Leave at a time that creates substantial problems for the employer. An employer can postpone leave that has been requested if the employee’s absence will unduly disrupt the employer’s business.

However, the employer must notify the employee of the postponement, ideally within seven days of receiving the request and before leave had first been due to commence. If the leave is postponed, the employer must also consult with the employee and reschedule the leave so that it commences no later than one month after the initially requested start date.

As with most forms of leave, employees are protected from detriment or dismissal due to taking, or proposing to take, Carer’s Leave.

This is likely to provide an important additional employment right for those seeking to balance care responsibilities with their employment. Employers and employees alike should keep in mind that this right to Carer’s Leave supplements existing employment rights, such as the statutory right to take unpaid time off to care for dependents when unexpected issues arise.

To find out more about family leave rights or other types of employment law and HR advice workshops we provide, please click here.

If you have any questions or would like assistance introducing a Carer’s Leave policy within your organisation, please contact our specialist Employment Law team, who have the knowledge and experience to advise you.

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Carer’s Leave coming into force on 6 April 2024

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