The Carer’s Leave Act 2023

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 aims to help millions of workers who need to provide or arrange care for a dependant. This important act received Royal Assent in May. It will be a day 1 right, so employers need to be aware of the Carer’s Leave Act and update in-house polices.

Carer’s Leave

The Carer’s Leave Act applies to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Act introduces an entitlement to 5 working days of unpaid leave per year for an employee arranging or providing care for a dependant.

Who can be classed as a dependant?

A person is a dependant of an employee if they are a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee. A person living in the same household as the employee also qualifies as a dependant providing they are not the employee’s lodger or tenant.

Carers leave

What is a long-term care need?

The Act makes it clear that a dependant must have a long-term care need. This is deemed to be,

  1. An illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than 3 months
  2. A disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010
  3. Care for a reason connected with their old age

There isn’t a need for an employee to furnish the employer with proof that a dependant needs long-term care. However, an employee needs to give adequate notice of their intention to takes carer’s leave. While an employer cannot deny a qualifying request for carer’s leave, they can postpone it. That being said, any unreasonable postponement could result in a tribunal claim – more on that a little later.

Caring for a spouse

The UK’s unpaid carers

The Office for National Statistics crunched the numbers to a question posed in the Census of 2021 – “Do you look after, or give any help or support to anyone because they have long-term physical or mental health conditions or illnesses, or problems related to old age?” How many people do you think answered ‘Yes’? Half a million, 2 million? 5 million responded in the affirmative.

Those who normally resided in England or Wales, aged 5 years and over categorised the number of unpaid care hours provided each week.

1.8 million people provided 9 hours or less, 678,000 provided 10 – 19 hours, 483,000 20 – 34 hours, 552,000 people 35 – 49 hours and 1.5 million people provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week. Compared to the Census of 2011, the proportion of people providing the most amount of care increased. These are sobering statistics.

The penalties for ignoring the Carer’s Leave bill

If an employer unreasonably postpones or prevents an employee from taking carer’s leave, they could well find themselves attending an employment tribunal. Compensation could be payable and the amount would reflect the employer’s behaviour and any consequential loss sustained by the employee.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023 key points

  • The Act applies to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
  • An employee providing or arranging care for a dependant is entitled to 5 working days unpaid leave per year
  • It is a day 1 right
  • An employer can postpone a qualifying carer’s leave request but not deny it

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