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A right to paid care leave

Carers UK has been campaigning on carers’ rights for over half a century and our aim is to ensure that carers are able to juggle work and care if they choose to do so and return to work without being penalised for caring.
Over 3 million people already juggle work and care.

With our ageing population and the need to work into later life, as well as a shortage of workers in key areas; carers’ rights in the workplace are becoming ever more important. The UK is lagging behind other countries when it comes to workplace rights and it’s time our workplaces reflect the reality of our lives.

We want all carers in employment to have a right to paid Care Leave of at least 5 to 10 days.

We would also like to see Government and employers explore longer term leave options.

What’s the evidence? Why do carers need new workplace rights?

Over 2 million people have given up work to care and 3 million have reduced their hours to care. Carers are taking a big financial hit– including the risk of financial hardship and debt and the long-term damage to their careers and pensions. Previous estimates also indicated that the cost to the economy of carers being forced to give up work to care showed had reached £5.3 billion in lost tax revenues and earnings and additional benefit payments.

The UK is lagging behind other countries when it comes to workplace rights.

There are many and often multiple reasons why people give up work to care:

  • Health, well-being and stress as a result of juggling many responsibilities
  • Insufficient good quality, appropriate or affordable care, or housing to allow their relative to be supported well
  • Lack of flexibility or understanding at work over working arrangements
  • A lack of information about what financial support they’d be entitled to
  • Inadequate leave entitlements to manage paid work and caring

What has Carers UK done so far and what will we do next?

Supporting carers

We provide expert information and advice working carers to help them get the support and help them make informed decisions about reducing hours, leaving or returning to work.

Working with employers

Our Employers forum, Employers for Carers, now has over 100 employers and develops and promotes best practice. In Scotland we’ve worked with the Scottish Government on an accreditations scheme, Carer Positive, which as another 100 employers.

Our workplace volunteers in the workplace raise awareness and help to connect working carers together for support.

Researching and influencing

We’ve published evidence on carers’ experience of combining work and care, of international evidence of how paid care leave works in other countries and what the benefits might be for business, carers, their colleagues and the economy.

We have looked at changes that would help carers receiving social security support keep in touch with the labour market without missing out on financial support.

We’ve shared our evidence to inform the Government’s Cross-Government Action Plan on Carers, the Independent Review of the State Pension Age, the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and several select committee inquiries looking at support for working carers. 

What is Carers UK doing next?

We will continue to press for a right to paid care leave.

There is a shared goal of several organisations to see a change in workplace rights going forward and we will continue to work with others to press for change.

Read our response to the Cross Party Report from MPs on support for working carers (May 2018)

Read our response to the Work and Pensions Committee's Support for Carers Inquiry (January 2018)

Further reading: Case for Care Leave - Impact on Business (2014) and Case for Care Leave (2013)

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