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Carer's Leave Act 2023 will come into force on 6 April 2024!

On 11 December 2023, the draft regulations for the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 were laid in Parliament, and confirmed that the legislation will come into force from 6 April 2024.

The draft regulations set out important detail relating to the Act, including that:

  • the legislation will cover employees in England, Wales and Scotland.
  • to be entitled to the provision, employees need to be providing long term care
  • the leave will be able to be taken in half or full days, up to and including taking a block of a whole week of leave at once.
  • the notice period an employee needs to give to take the leave is twice the length of time that needs to be taken in advance of the earliest day of leave.
  • an employee does not need to notify their employer in writing regarding their request to take Carer’s Leave, although they can do so if they wish to. 
  • importantly, employees taking Carer’s Leave will have the same employment protections as associated with other forms of family related leave. This includes protection from dismissal or detriment as a result of having taken the leave. 

The draft regulations still need to be passed by Parliament and Carers UK will provide further updates when this happens. We also expect guidance to be made available in advance of the legislation coming into force on 6 April 2024.

The draft regulations come following the Act’s successful passage through parliament earlier this year – please see more details below:

  • On 24 May 2023, the Carer’s Leave Bill, brought forward last year by Wendy Chamberlain MP, gained Royal Assent and became the Carer’s Leave Act 2023.
  • The Bill originated in the House of Commons in 2022. On Friday 21 October 2022, the Bill passed through its first crucial step and secured Government support. On Wednesday 9 November 2022, the Bill went through more detailed examination and was successful at Committee Stage. The Bill was also successful at Report Stage and Third Reading on Friday 3 February 2023.
  • The Bill then moved across to be examined by the House of Lords. It successfully passed its Second Reading on Friday 3 March 2023, and on Wednesday 19 April 2023, the Bill was also successful at Committee Stage. The Bill finished its passage through parliament on 19 May 2023 when it was successful at Third Reading in the Lords.

About the Carer's Leave Bill - and Carers UK's support

A right to Carer's Leave is an issue that Carers UK has campaigned on for a long time. Last June, this took a firm step forward with the introduction of a Private Members' Bill on Carer's Leave, by Wendy Chamberlain MP, the Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife. Carers UK has worked closely with Wendy in the passing of the Bill, which gained Royal Assent and became the Carer’s Leave Act on 24 May 2023.

 

The Bill's support

Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign we have run over the past year to ensure the Carer’s Leave Bill was successfully passed. Your interest and support has been invaluable.

We were delighted to gain the support of leading employers such as Centrica, TSB, Phoenix as well as small employers such as Agenor Technology, industry bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, unions such as Unison, local government such as the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Social Services and Portsmouth City Council, national charities such as Age UK, MS Society and Stroke Association, medical bodies such the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, and local and national carers organisations such as Caring Together, Sheffield Carers Centre, York Carers Centre, The Coalition of Carers in Scotland, Carers Trust, Gaddum, Wales Carers Alliance and many more.

 

The need for Carer's Leave

Passing this Bill will provide much needed employment rights for people who juggle their unpaid caring responsibilities with paid employment.

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, almost 5 million people were juggling paid work alongside caring unpaid – about 15% of the UK’s population. In 2020, the number of people in paid work who were also providing unpaid care increased to over 7 million. The stresses and strain of having to juggle paid work alongside unpaid care has led to hundreds of thousands of people having to leave the labour market entirely. On average, 600 people a day leave work to care – with over 500,000 people leaving work to provide unpaid care in the two years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As our population ages, and changes to the way we work occur as a result of COVID-19, the issue of people juggling work and care is only going grow as a challenge. The UK already lags behind other countries when it comes to workplace rights for carers and it’s time our workplaces reflect the reality of our lives.

 

What would the Act do?

The Act will help support unpaid carers to remain in work alongside their unpaid caring responsibilities – and, given the current cost of living crisis, there has never been a more important time to do so.

Carers UK’s evidence from employers, through Employers for Carers, is that a right to Carer’s Leave supports retention and recruitment, as well as the health and wellbeing of employees with caring responsibilities.

Although our ultimate goal remains up to 10 days' paid leave from work for all carers in employment, Carers UK believes unpaid leave will deliver a number of different benefits. 

The Act will:

  • Give rights to at least 2 million employees who are carers.
  • Prompt employers to whom this applied to think about their employees with caring responsibilities, and for many, create carer-related policies for the first time.
  • Mean that more forward-looking employers will go further than the legislation required and introduce paid Carer’s Leave, to help them stay ahead with recruitment.
  • Support carers' health and wellbeing. Research shows that having a supportive employer and the ability to take time off work to provide care (Carer’s Leave) can help to mitigate the pressures carers face.
  • Recognise and value carers, which is critically important to them.

 

Economic and social impact of Carer's Leave

Our research shows that giving carers the right to take Carer’s Leave would:

  • Improve finances for carers in the short and longer term as they are more able to juggle work and care.
  • 37% of working carers said they needed unpaid Carer’s Leave, and a further 1 in 7 said if they didn’t get it, they would have to reduce working hours or give up work altogether.
  • Particularly support women, who are more likely to be juggling work and care, and who are much more likely to be in part-time work rather than full-time.
  • Bring increased productivity for employers, who would improve their employee retention rates and reduce their recruitment costs. One employer estimated that they saved around £1.8 million per annum through the application of carer policies in terms of preventing unplanned absences and presenteeism and a further £1.3 million per annum in retention savings.
  • Save UK companies up to £4.8 billion a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4 billion in improved employee retention by adopting flexible working policies to support those with caring responsibilities.
  • Bring economic gains for the Treasury, through increased productivity, due to more carers being able to continue juggling work alongside their unpaid caring responsibilities, rather than having to leave the labour market. Our research in 2019 showed as many as 600 people a day were having to quit work because they were not getting the support they needed.

 

Read our latest research

 

Contact us

For more information about Carer’s Leave, please contact policy@carersuk.org

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