In October 2022, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Action announced the possibility of a new law emerging for carers. They mentioned in their announcement that millions of people provide unpaid care to their dependants alongside other work responsibilities. In order to assist them in their care duties, the Government plans on offering unpaid leave, aka carers leave.
The Carer’s Leave Bill passed it’s second reading way back in October 2022 and has now finally made its way into the House of Lords. The first reading at the House of Lords was on 6th February 2023 and it was passed to the second reading which is due in March 2023. Sponsored by Wendy Chamberlain MP, the aim of the bill is to create the provision of unpaid leave for anyone with caring responsibilities. The total duration of the leave and details on how it can be taken will be set later, however, a one-week leave entitlement is expected.
According to Carers UK, around 15% of the UK’s population was juggling work and providing care prior to Covid. From about five million pre-covid, this number increased to about 7 million in 2020. Carers UK believes this that bill would give at least two and a half million carers-related rights and allow them to be able to carry on with their responsibility without jeopardizing their primary source of income.
Moreover, research conducted by Carers UK has shown that making this bill a law could financially help carers as they will be able to juggle work and care better. This is because around 37% of carers expressed their need for leave and some even said they may have to cut down their working hours if they cannot be granted leave.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, feels that passing this bill is crucial and the bill going forward shows that Carers are being given more recognition. This recognition, support, and carer’s rights is something she and Carers UK have been actively working towards for decades. She also looks forward to the bill passing through the House of Lords.
Bill sponsor, Wendy Chamberlain, also expresses her joy regarding the bill making it to the House of Lords. And while she is delighted about this milestone, she does believe this is just the starting point. It’s a point from where more recognition will be offered to carers and more employers will come forward to support carers as well. Ms Chamberlain believes this can be a point from where people can start campaigning for paid leaves as well.
Carers leave will be eligible for anyone who has a dependent that requires long-term physical or mental care. Employees will be eligible to ask for leave from the first day of work which can be used for any kind of dependent, i.e., spouse, parent, child etc. While Carer’s Leave talks about unpaid leave only, it may be up to the employer if they want to pay for the time employees take off.
The only thing to remember is that while employees do not need to offer evidence for leave, they will need to provide notice in advance. Keep in mind, in most circumstances, the carer’s leave will not be refused, however, not giving enough notice could lead to a refusal.