The Government has committed to the introduction of a new law, due to be implemented in 2022, which requires employers to provide up to a week’s unpaid leave each year for employees who are also unpaid carers for dependents. This is also referred to as ‘care leave’.
A ‘dependent’ means a spouse, partner or civil partner; a child; a parent; a person living in the same household as the employee or any other person who relies on the employee for care.
The dependent must have a long-term need for care from the employee outside of the workplace. A dependent will be deemed to have a long-term need for care if they have a disability for employment law purposes (a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse impact on an individual’s day-to-day activities) or because their age means that they require care.
The key considerations for employees and employers are as follows:-
– The employee is entitled to take care leave from the date they commence employment with the employer;
– The employee can take care leave as half days, full days or a full week;
– The notice provided to employer must be at least twice the leave period requested, plus one day;
– No evidence is required to support the request;
– The leave can be taken to make arrangements for care, not just for the employee to provide direct care themselves.
– The employer can refuse to agree a particular leave request if they consider that it will be logistically difficult or would disrupt the business, but they must allow the leave to be taken at another time.
– Whilst the statutory right will be to unpaid care leave, employers can choose to pay employees when they are taking care leave.
Whilst, subject to parliamentary time, the new law is due to be introduced in 2022, there are practical steps that employers can take now so that they are ready for when the new law is implemented. These include planning what to include in their new care leave policies, training staff on dealing with care leave requests, and considering the impact of the new law on HR policies and the business generally.
If you do have any queries in relation to care leave please do not hesitate to contact a member of the employment team – Gemma Wilson at Glaisyers ETL on 0161 833 5689 or Gemma.Wilson@glaisyers.com