A Bill that gives employees across Great Britain the right to take unpaid leave from work to care for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends has today received Royal Assent.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 will ensure that the estimated two million employees currently juggling paid employment and caring responsibilities will be able to take up to five days of unpaid Carer’s Leave to support their loved ones.
Carers UK has led the campaign for the introduction of Carer’s Leave for decades and is delighted to see it become an Act and set to become law.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“This is a historic moment for unpaid carers and Carers UK’s decades-long campaign to improve working carers’ rights - we know many of them will be delighted by this new law.
“The evidence is clear: being able to take leave from work to support an older, disabled or seriously ill relative makes a huge difference to carers’ lives and can help them stay in paid work.
“Managing these dual responsibilities is often stressful and demanding. Being able to use Carer’s Leave will remove guilt for many workers needing to take some time out to care, or having to use their annual leave - their own rest time.
“There are big benefits for businesses too – those who have already introduced Carer’s Leave have seen reduced recruitment costs and improved staff retention and wellbeing.
“With our ageing demographic, and loved ones with illnesses and disabilities living for longer, the majority of us can expect to care for a loved one in our working lives. This legislation sets us up for the future and we hope it will see employers give greater consideration to the needs of carers in their workforces.”
Carers UK is extremely grateful to Wendy Chamberlain MP and Lord Fox for all their work in making this legislation a success, as well as its long-standing vice president Baroness Pitkeathley. Carers UK is grateful for the cross-party backing it received and to Centrica and Pears Foundation for their support during the passage of legislation.
The earliest date the legislation would come into force is April 2024 but the date is yet to be confirmed.
Carers UK will now be turning our attention to working on the details of the regulations and guidance which will come in due course from Government.
We also want to make sure that employers and employees alike make the most of the opportunities and the benefits of supporting carers, and to be “Act-Ready” when the legislation comes into force.
Employers that are keen to understand more about the implications of the Carer’s Leave Act and how to better support carers in their staff teams can find out more from Carers UK’s employers forum, Employers for Carers.