Leave for Unpaid Carers
A new family-friendly right that is expected to make its way into the Employment Bill is leave for unpaid carers. The government has started a consultation on the proposal to give employees, who are also unpaid carers, one week’s additional unpaid leave a year.
The consultation states that the aim is to “make things better for working families”. “Carers” in this sense is taken to mean “a person providing unpaid care to family members, friends, neighbours, or others because of long-term physical or mental health, disability or problems related to old age”. The definition of the caring relationship will likely mirror that which we are used to in respect of the right to time off for dependants.
In terms of the individual that is in need of care, it may be due to a physical or mental health problem, a disability or issue related to old age. It is anticipated that the care is likely to last for a longer period of time, such as “six months or a year”. The government is consulting over whether certain conditions should automatically qualify as meeting the threshold for carer’s leave, by taking a similar approach to conditions which are deemed disabilities under the Equality Act 2010. However, the consultation document only refers to cancer, HIV infection and multiple sclerosis, and no other deemed disabilities.
Other issues that remain subject to the consultation include:
- Should there be a minimum qualifying period of service that the employee must have before they can take advantage of carer’s leave?
- What reasons are acceptable reasons for taking carer’s leave?
- What can the leave not be taken for?
- What evidence must an employee submit to show they are eligible to take carer’s leave?
- Should there be restrictions on how the leave can be taken?
- How much notice should an employee give of their intention to take carer’s leave?
- The government proposes that an employee taking carer’s leave would enjoy similar protection against suffering any detriment or dismissal. It is also proposed that a new right would be introduced for an employee to bring a claim if their employer has unreasonably refused to permit them to take carer’s leave.
There is no planned date for implementation of this new right as yet but is likely to be in or around 2023.
The consultation closes on 3 August 2020.
If you have any questions please call me on 0114 360 0626 or simply email me at email@example.com.
Up-to-date information for individuals and employers on the spread of the coronavirus can be obtained from www.hpa.org.uk
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