The government has announced this right will be introduced in response to a consultation on carer’s leave. This is intended to give workers greater flexibility and ability to manage their work lives alongside care responsibilities. The consultation stated that there are approximately 5 million people in the UK who have unpaid care responsibilities, with around 50% of those people in employment. These numbers are only set to increase given the aging demographic of the UK. The government has acknowledged that this has become even more necessary given the COVID 19 pandemic.
This right is not contingent on length of service and will be a day one right. The right will allow an employee time off to care for a dependant. This is broadly defined as a spouse, partner, civil partner, child, parent, someone who lives with the employee but not as a tenant or lodger, or a person who relies on the employee for support. The person who requires care also needs to fall within the definition of having a long-term care need.
The entitlement is very flexible. Some notice requirements will apply but the leave can be taken in half days, full days or as a block of one week. Employers will be permitted to delay a request for leave in certain situations but not deny it.
This policy has been promised since 2019 and the government is now saying that it will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows though there is as yet no indication of when this will be. Employers will need to prepare themselves for this change by familiarising themselves with this new right by arranging training or a written policy to insert into staff handbooks.
If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.