New statutory rights for carers to come into force on 6 April 2024
This year will see the introduction of some new statutory rights for employees. One of these is the Carer’s Leave Regulations that will come into force on 6 April 2024.
Many of us have caring responsibilities, whether it is for an unwell child, a disabled partner or an elderly relative. Many carers don’t share with their employers the extent of their caring responsibilities and feel forced to struggle with competing demands between work and home life, which can lead to issues at work, at home, stress and anxiety. These new Regulations provide some leeway for employees to take time off when faced with a caring responsibility that they must or want to undertake for a dependant. It is a step in the right direction towards acknowledging that many of us have important caring responsibilities.
The new Regulations set out how employees can apply for up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave, in any 12-month period. The key elements of the Regulations are as follows:
- This is a Day One employment right, i.e., you don’t have to have worked for your employer for any qualifying length of time in order to apply for the leave;
- The right is for employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need and who want to be absent from work to provide, or arrange care for that dependant;
- Requests don’t have to be take in blocks, i.e., the leave can either be taken as consecutive or non-consecutive days, and half or full days;
- Employees must give notice in writing of their intention take carer’s leave, which must state their entitlement to take the leave and give at least twice the amount of notice than the length of the period of leave requested;
- Employers can postpone a request if the operation of the business would be unreasonably disrupted. In such circumstances, the employer must give notice of the postponement before the leave is due to begin and must explain why the postponement is necessary. The employer must then allow the leave to be taken within one month of the original start date of the leave requested; and;
- Employees have legal protection from being subjected to detriment and dismissal because they take, or seek to take, carer’s leave.
Under the Carer’s Leave Act 2023, employees also have the right to benefit from existing terms and conditions of employment that would have applied but for the leave such as healthcare benefits but not pay.
It will be interesting to see if these Regulations make a difference to those with caring responsibilities juggling work. The Regulations can be found here.