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Two million employees set to benefit from Carer’s Leave as final details of new law go through Parliament

Final legislation passed in Parliament yesterday seals a groundbreaking new right for two million employees with unpaid caring responsibilities to take up to five days of Carer’s Leave.

It sets out the final working details of how employees will be able to request Carer’s Leave from their employer when the law comes into force in just over one months’ time on 6 April 2024.

The regulations for the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 make clear that employees in Great Britain with a long-term unpaid caring responsibility for a family member or friend will be able take up to five days of unpaid Carer’s Leave. They will have the same employment protections associated with other forms of family-related leave, such as protection from dismissal as a result of having taken the leave.

The regulations set out that employees can take Carer’s Leave in full or half days, or in a whole block of five days, and must give advance notice that is twice the length of time that needs to be taken.

Carers UK has led the campaign for those juggling paid work and unpaid care for loved ones to receive a legal right to Carer’s Leave, and is delighted to see the regulations finalised - with millions of people set to benefit from 6 April 2024.

Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said:

“Passing the regulations associated with the Carer’s Leave Act is a vital moment – setting in stone the process for working carers requesting Carer’s Leave from their employer.

“This brand new right will help many more carers stay in work, and support businesses to retain their staff too.

“We are overwhelmed by the support that we’ve had along this important journey – already we are seeing a step change in the way that employers are recognising unpaid carers. We couldn’t have done this without a huge number of people getting behind this legislation. We’d like to thank all of them but especially Wendy Chamberlain MP, who introduced the Carer’s Leave Act last year, MPs and Peers on all sides of the House who supported it, as well as the organisations and carers who championed it along the way.”

Wendy Chamberlain MP, who introduced the Carer’s Leave Act in the House of Commons, said:

“Becoming a carer is something that can happen to any one of us. It can take many forms: from day-to-day physical caring, making medical appointments or doing the shopping for a housebound elderly neighbour. Caring or being cared for is something that almost everyone will experience at some point in their life.

“The work unpaid carers do is unequivocally vital yet is it extremely underappreciated. This hard work should be better recognised which is a key reason why I led the Carer’s Leave Act through Parliament.

“The Act gives carers up to 5 days of unpaid leave a year. Although I would like to see this doubled to 10 days and paid, it is a great start in beginning the process for improving carer’s rights.

“I would like to deeply thank Carers UK with whom I worked closely with throughout the process of getting this bill passed. It would not have been possible without their support.

“I look forward to the new law coming into force on the 6th April and hope that it will give millions of unpaid carers a little more flexibility with their time. Carers across North East Fife told me they had given up work due to caring responsibilities. I hope this Act will help encourage some of those people to find a way back to work.”

Chris O’Shea, Group Chief Executive at Centrica, best known as the owner of British Gas, said:

“Juggling work and unpaid care can be a real struggle for working carers, not only emotionally but often financially too. Introduction of statutory carer’s leave though the Carer’s Leave Act is a tremendous step forward, which will make an enormous difference to peoples' lives. Our experience at Centrica, where we’ve gone a step further by providing paid leave, shows it’s not just the right thing to do, but that there is a clear business case for supporting carers, including savings from increased retention and ensuring carers don’t have to take unplanned absences.

“A growing number of organisations are already recognising that supporting working carers makes good business sense. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Centrica’s 2,000 strong Carers Network – and working with Carers UK through the passage of the Act we have helped demonstrate the economic case for carer positive employment practices.”

Carers UK is encouraging employers to find out more and has produced a stand-alone set of resources to support employers with the implementation of the Carer’s Leave Act. 

Posted: 5th March 2024