January’s Employment Law Digest – Carer’s leave regulations
23rd January, 2024
Whilst the Carer's Leave Act 2023 came into force in May 2023, it still required regulations to set out how the entitlements would work. In December 2023 the Carer's Leave Regulations 2024 were laid before Parliament.
These regulations set out a new statutory right to take 1 week of unpaid carer’s leave in any 12-month period. The new entitlement is expected to come into force from 6 April 2024.
The key aspects of the regulations are:
- It is a day 1 right, meaning that it does not require a particular length of service.
- It applies to employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need, and want to be absent from work to provide, or arrange care, for that dependant.
- Employees are protected from detriment and dismissal because they take, or seek to take, carer’s leave (or the employer believes they are likely to do so), meaning employers will not be able to penalise any employee choosing to take advantage of carer’s leave.
A person is a ‘dependant’ of an employee if they are a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee, and they live in the same household as the employee, otherwise than by reason of being the employee’s boarder, employee, lodger or tenant, or they reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care.
A ‘long-term care need’ is an illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than 3 months, a disability under the Equality Act 2010, or issues relating to old age.
- Employees are only entitled to a maximum of 1 week carer’s leave, regardless of how many dependants they have.
- Requests can be in consecutive, or non-consecutive, half-days or full days.
- Employers can’t require employees to evidence or prove their entitlement.
- Employees are required to give notice in writing of their intention to take carer’s leave. This notice should confirm their entitlement to take it and give either at least twice the amount of notice than the period of leave requested, or 3 days’ notice, whichever is the longest.
- Employers cannot deny a request for carer’s leave, however they are able to delay a request if the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted. Where this is the case, the employer must give a counter notice of the delay before the leave was due to begin, and must explain why the delay is necessary. The employer must then allow the leave to be taken within one month of the start-date originally requested.
- Employers should consider creating or updating policies and record keeping processes to cover and track this new right. It is also advisable to educate managers about the rights, particularly around the protections afforded to employees.