Home / Insights / Blog / Carer’s Leave – Upcoming Changes

Carer’s Leave – Upcoming Changes

Carer’s Leave – Upcoming Changes

Carer’s Leave – Upcoming Changes

From 6 April 2024, employees will have the right to take at least one week of unpaid leave per year to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need. The new statutory entitlement, details of which are set out in The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 (“the Regulations”), will be welcomed by employees tasked with the challenge of balancing caring responsibilities alongside their paid employment.

Who is entitled to take carer’s leave?

The new entitlement will be afforded to employees that have a dependant with a long-term care need. For the purposes of the Regulations, a person will be considered a “dependant” of an employee if they:

(i) are a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee;

(ii) live in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of being the employee’s boarder, employee, lodger or tenant), or;

(iii) reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care.

In addition, a dependant will be deemed as having a “long-term care need” if they:

(i) have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months;

(ii) have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, or;

(iii) require care for a reason connected with their old age.

Significantly, there is no minimum length of service requirement limiting the availability of the right, meaning the entitlement will be available to employees from the start of their employment. Moreover, the Regulations safeguard the right to take carer’s leave by protecting employees against any detriment suffered as a consequence of them exercising their statutory right.

How can carer’s leave be taken?

The Regulations provide employees with the flexibility to take carer’s leave as a full day or as a half day. When requesting to take a period of leave, employees must ensure that adequate notice is given to their employer, which must be the greater of three days’ notice or twice as many days as the period of leave required.

An employer cannot impose a requirement on an employee to provide evidence before authorising their leave request. This preventative measure is intended to prohibit employers from engaging in intrusive practices and afford employees the privacy to deal with potentially sensitive situations.

Moreover, an employer cannot refuse an employee’s leave request. The only exercise of control that an employer can take is to postpone the leave requested by an employee. An employer can only take such a decision if they reasonably consider that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted if the employee in question took carer’s leave during the requested period. If the employer opts to postpone the leave, they must provide the employee with a written notice explaining the reason for the postponement and offer them a new date for when the leave can be taken which must be within a month of the employee’s request. This notice must be sent to the employee within seven days of their initial request.

Where an employee believes that their employer has unreasonably postponed, prevented or attempted to prevent them from taking carer’s leave, the employee will be able to bring an employment tribunal claim against their employer. If the tribunal find in favour of the aggrieved employee, they would be able to make such a declaration and award compensation to be paid to the employee based on what they consider to be just and equitable in the circumstances.

Practical considerations for employers

In readiness for the implementation of the Regulations, employers should consider taking the following preparatory steps:

  • Review all internal policies relating to carer’s leave and make necessary updates to ensure they comply with the Regulations. If no such policies exist, consider bringing in a carer’s leave policy to provide employees with information about their right and explain how they can request and take the leave in practice.
  • Ensure line managers receive appropriate training educating them on the new entitlement and have access to guidance on the considerations that they must give before responding to a request.
  • Appraise the capability of existing HR systems to manage leave requests and track the taking of leave.
  • Assess the feasibility of introducing an enhanced entitlement for employees. This may help attract and retain talent and promote a carer friendly environment, allowing employees to manage their caring and work responsibilities more effectively.

Contact our Employment Solicitors

To talk to one of our employment law solicitors, call us today on 0330 175 7619 or email employment@ibblaw.co.uk.