The new Carer’s Leave Act 2023 amends or inserts new provisions into the Employment Rights Act 1996, providing powers to make regulations to create an entitlement for employees to take one week’s unpaid leave from work in any twelve-month period in order to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need. This will be a day one right.
A person is a “dependant” if they are a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee, or live in the same household as the employee (otherwise than by reason of being their boarder, employee, lodger or tenant), or reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care. A dependant has a “long-term care need” if they have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months, or they have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, or they require care for a reason connected with their old age.
The regulations will also set out how carer’s leave may be taken, but the aim is that it can be taken flexibly to suit the employee’s caring responsibilities and so will be available to take in increments of half-days or individual days, up to a week. The regulations will additionally set the rules around what notice must be given by an employee to request to take carer’s leave and when the employer has the right to postpone a requested period of carer’s leave. Employees won’t, however, be required to provide evidence in relation to a request for carer’s leave.
Employees taking carer’s leave will have detriment and automatic unfair dismissal protections.
Although a date for implementation hasn’t yet been set, these provisions are unlikely to come into force before April 2024 and the government has said that it will lay the relevant regulations in due course.