Time to read our post: 3 minutes
The questions answered in this post are:
- Current Rules Around Leave for Carer
- What is Carer’s Leave?
- Who Can Take Carer’s Leave?
- Are There Specific Ways in Which The Leave Can Be Taken?
- Does My Employee Need to Give Notice of Leave?
- Can I Say “No” to a Request for Carer’s Leave?
- How Should Employers Prepare for the Introduction of Carer’s Leave?
1. Current Rules Around Leave for Carers
Prior to the changes on 6th April, there is no automatic right to time off from work to care for a dependant other than in emergency situations.
There is “time off for dependant leave”. This is a right to take unpaid leave in an emergency situation. This leave is intended to be short-term and to allow an employee to put alternative arrangements in place. It typically lasts no longer than a day.
A “dependant” is defined as spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder), or the wider catch-all provision, of a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 introduces formal leave for carers. It comes into effect on 6 April 2024.
2. What is Carer’s Leave?
Carer’s Leave is a period of one week, which is unpaid and which can be taken each year. Carer’s Leave can be used to provide care or make care arrangements for a dependant with a long-term care need.
The definition of a “dependant” remains unchanged (spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder), or the wider catch-all provision, of a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.)
A “long-term care need” is defined as:
- An illness or injury (either physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months.
- A disability under the Equality Act 2010.
- Issues related to old age.
An employee will only be able to take one week of Carer’s Leave regardless of how many dependants they have.
3. Who Can Take Carer’s Leave?
The right to request Carer’s Leave is a day one right. This means that employees do not have to have a minimum length of service before requesting leave of this nature.
4. Are There Specific Ways in Which the Leave Can Be Taken?
The idea of Carer’s Leave is to provide employees with flexibility to deal with carer responsibilities. This could be things such as attending health appointments with an individual, being in attendance for home visits etc.
With this aim in mind, there is a great deal of flexibility around how the leave can be taken.
The rules are:
- Leave can be taken in half day blocks i.e. individuals could take ten half days rather than five full days.
- The leave does not have to be taken on consecutive days.
- The entitlement is to five days of leave in a rolling twelve-month period.
5. Does My Employee Need to Give Notice of Leave?
The new leave is not designed for dealing with emergencies; ‘Time Off for Dependant Leave’ serves that purpose.
As Carer’s Leave is for planned situations, employees are required to give notice.
The notice that an employee is required to give is twice the amount of time that they wish to take off or three days, whichever is the longest.
Notice does not have to be in writing, but it typically will be. The notice needs to include a statement that the employee is entitled to take Carer’s Leave, along with the dates and duration of the leave.
6. Can I Say “No” to a Request for Carer’s Leave?
Employers aren’t able to decline a request for Carer’s Leave outright. However, they can postpone the leave if they believe it will significant consequences for the business.
If an employer does postpone the leave then they must provide written confirmation of this within 7 days of the request being received. They also need to offer alternative dates when the leave can be taken.
These dates must be within one month of the dates originally requested.
7. How Should Employers Prepare for the Introduction of Carer’s Leave?
The legislation comes into effect on 6 April 2024 so you do have some time. However, you will be want to take steps now so that you’re ready.
This is entirely new legislation so you will most likely need to create a policy that covers this type of leave specifically.
You may also want to consider whether you want to go beyond the statutory requirement when it comes to Carer’s Leave, for example:
- Do you want to offer paid Carer’s Leave rather than unpaid?
- Do you want to offer more than 5 days (one week) of Carer’s Leave?
You are clearly under no obligation to do more than the law requires but this is something you may want to consider.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider what systems will need updating in order to track Carer’s Leave. If you’re using HR software then you may need to create a new leave type to allow individuals to request and track their leave.
If you would like help in creating a Carer’s Leave Policy or have any questions regarding the legislation and how to implement it, do contact us.
Read the full list of employment law changes for 2024, with individual posts on each topic, providing all the information you need.
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