A new Private Members' Bill which could see millions of unpaid carers – those looking after older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends – better supported in the workplace, has gained wide-ranging support from politicians, employers and carers' organisations.
The Carer's Leave Bill, brought forward by Wendy Chamberlain MP, would introduce a landmark new right for UK employees with caring responsibilities of up to one week of unpaid Carer's Leave each year.
A number of MPs on a cross-party basis have come out to say that they will be backing the Bill, including Dame Caroline Dinenage MP (Conservative, Gosport), Sally-Ann Hart MP (Conservative, Hastings and Rye), Steve McCabe MP (Labour, Birmingham Selly Oak), Stuart C McDonald MP (SNP, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East), Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion), Sir Ed Davey MP (Lib Dem, Kingston and Surbiton), Marion Fellows MP (SNP, Motherwell and Wishaw), and Liz Saville-Roberts MP (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd).
In total, 21 Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have already pledged their support for the Bill. In addition, 100 organisations are publicly supporting the intention of the Bill, including major employers, employer representative groups, trade unions and national and local carers' organisations – demonstrating its wide-ranging appeal.
The second reading of the Bill will take place on Friday 9th September 2022
Speaking about the support for the Bill, Wendy Chamberlain MP said:
"It is fantastic to have support from fellow MPs as well as a wide range of organisations, for my Bill.
"A right to Carer's Leave would relieve some of the pressure on millions of people up and down the country juggling paid employment with unpaid care for a family member or friend.
"It would give them flexibility to attend routine hospital appointments, for example, or help the person they care for recover from a planned operation. Sadly, more than half of employees with caring responsibilities do not currently have access to Carer's Leave to enable them to support their loved ones in this way.
"Carer's Leave also brings significant benefits for employers, through lower recruitment and retention costs, as well as better staff planning and engagement. It will help to keep many more skilled people – the majority of whom are women – in work and contributing to our economy."
A carer is defined as anyone who provides unpaid care to a relative or friend due to illness, disability or frailty. It is estimated there are 2.4 million employees juggling work and unpaid care across the UK who would benefit from the passing of this Bill.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
"We are delighted Wendy Chamberlain MP has brought forward the Carer's Leave Bill. With huge swathes of the working population now juggling their job and caring for a loved one, there has never been a more important time to introduce Carer's Leave.
"Our research shows us that every day in the UK, at least 600 carers make the difficult decision to leave the workforce because it becomes too much – a decision made at a great personal cost, as well as at a detriment to the economy.
"Add to that the spiralling cost-of-living crisis, it is vital that unpaid carers are properly supported to stay in work. By supporting the Carer's Leave Bill on 9th September, we can signal to carers that they are visible and valued, and help millions to better balance work and care."