Around five million people across the UK are providing unpaid care by looking after or helping a family member, relative or friend. Unpaid carers face particular challenges in balancing work and caring responsibilities and nearly half do this while also working full-time or part-time. Juggling caring responsibilities and work can be challenging and can limit the participation of unpaid carers in the labour market. Women, who are often still the primary carers within families, tend to be disproportionately impacted.
The Government is committed to delivering on the manifesto commitment to introduce a new right to an additional week of leave for unpaid carers. This will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows.
A consultation on carer’s leave ran from March to August 2020 setting out detailed policy proposals to create a new employment right for one week’s unpaid leave. The Government has responded to the consultation, highlighting that there were over 800 responses from a range of stakeholders and individuals.
The Government response details that employees with caring responsibilities for a dependant with long-term care needs will be entitled to one working week of unpaid Carer’s Leave (per employee, per year). This right will be available from the first day of employment and the leave can be taken flexibly (i.e. from several half day blocks to a single block of whole week). The full eligibility criteria will be defined.
I am encouraged that the Government has designed the proposals to balance the needs of employers and employees, ensuring that employers are able to plan and manage the absence created by Carer’s Leave. This includes a minimum notice period and enabling employers to postpone, but not deny, the request for Carer’s Leave where the employer considers the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted.