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Northern Ireland urged to lead the way in support for unpaid carers

Carers NI welcomes the proposal within the Good Jobs Bill to give carers a legal right to access 5 days unpaid leave from work to fulfil their caring responsibilities.

This will support more people to juggle employment with their unpaid caring role. Importantly it will also give Northern Ireland parity with England, Scotland and Wales where unpaid carers have been able to avail of this right from 6 April 2024.

It is however disappointing that the opportunity has not been taken for Northern Ireland to lead the way, to build on the previous legislation and to provide paid carers leave.

Paid carers leave would ensure all unpaid carers in employment can access the right to 5 days leave to fulfil their caring duties without the worry of losing much needed pay.


Angela Phillips, Senior Policy Officer at Carers NI said:

“Many people with caring roles in Northern Ireland want and need to stay in paid work but the lack of support to juggle employment with caring often makes that impossible.

The proposal for unpaid carers leave is welcome and an important start but, in the current cost of living crisis and with 1 in 4 unpaid carers living in poverty in Northern Ireland, not all carers will be able to afford to lose pay and take up this support.

Northern Ireland has an opportunity here to lead the way and go one step further providing carers with 5 days paid carers leave. This would ensure that no carer is disadvantaged financially because of their caring role and that all are able to avail of this critical support.

The Assembly has already stated its support for that policy, and we would urge the Minister to include it in the final Bill.”





Media contact


Please contact / Richard Meade 07368970219


Notes to editors


  1. The consultation on the Good Jobs Bill was launched today (1/07/24) by Department for Economy.
  2. The Carer’s Leave Act provides a legal entitlement to five day’s unpaid carer’s leave per year for employees in England, Scotland and Wales who are responsible for caring for a sick or disabled dependent from 6 April 2024. For more information see:
  3. In Carers NI’s State of Caring survey 2023:
    • 1 in 3 unpaid carers in Northern Ireland said they have left employment to care.
  4. Research from the Carer Poverty Commission NI shows that over 1 in 4 carers in Northern Ireland live in poverty. Read more here
  5. On 12 March 2024, the Assembly unanimously passed a Sinn Féin motion on workers’ rights, which included support for the provision of paid carer’s leave in Northern Ireland. For more information:
  6. There are over 220,000 people providing unpaid care for sick or disabled family members and friends in Northern Ireland.
  7. Carers NI is Northern Ireland’s membership charity for unpaid carers. We work to represent and support the over 220,000 people in Northern Ireland who provide unpaid care for ill, older or disabled family members or friends – fighting for increased recognition and support for all carers and to ensure they have a voice in policymaking.
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