Regulations have been made bringing the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 into force on 4 December 2023. The Act adds new provisions to the Employment Rights Act 1996 to give employees a day one right to one week’s unpaid leave (pro-rated) each year to provide or arrange care for a dependent with a long-term care need. However, further regulations are needed to implement the detail so the employees will not be able to exercise the new right yet (the expected implementation date was April 2024). Employers will need to be ready to draft or update existing policies to reflect the new right once further regulations are published.
The leave can be taken either in one block or as single individual or half days. Employees will be able to self-certify eligibility and will not be required to provide evidence; the fact that leave will be unpaid is thought to reduce the risk of abuse.
The right will be available where an employee provides care for a dependant (broadly following the definition of dependant in the right to time off for dependants, which includes “a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care”) who has a long-term care need (ie, a long-term illness or injury, disability, or issues related to old age, with additional coverage for specific cases such as terminal illness).
The leave will be available for providing care or making arrangement for the provision of care (and may also include providing care for someone who reasonably depends on the employee for care while their primary unpaid carer is taking respite). This may cover personal and practical support (including accompanying to medical and other appointments), helping with official or financial matters, and providing personal or medical care.
Employees will be required to give notice of taking leave of twice the duration as the time being requested plus one day. Employers will be able to give a counter-notice to postpone (but cannot deny) the request where the employer considers that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted.