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Government backs Carer’s Leave Bill

The Carer’s Leave Bill has passed its second reading with government support. The Bill will introduce a new flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who are providing or arranging care for a dependent with a long-term care need.

It will be available to all eligible employees from the first day of their employment. They will be able to take the leave flexibly to suit their caring responsibilities and will not need to provide evidence of how the leave is used or who it will be used for. Employees taking their carer’s leave entitlement will be subject to the same employment protections that are associated with other forms of family-related leave, meaning they will be protected from dismissal or any detriment as a result of having time off.

The draft legislation defines carers by reference to their relevant dependant who must be closely associated with the carer: (a) a family member (b) a member of the same household or (c) otherwise must be someone who reasonably relies on the carer for care. The dependant must also have a long-term care need in that (i) they will likely require care for more than three months (ii) their condition constitutes a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or (iii) they require care because of their old age.

It is unknown yet when this will become law, however from a practical perspective, employers should put paperwork in place to provide for self-certification of absence for caring responsibilities and create a policy explaining the right and processes for exercising it.