The government have introduced a new right for employees to take one week's unpaid leave per year to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need. A 'dependant' will include a partner, parent, child or anyone else that relies on the employee for care, and the right will be available from the first day of employment. Leave will be able to be used flexibly across the year as required and employees will not need to provide evidence of who they are caring for or why the leave is being used.
An employee who takes care leave will be protected from being dismissed or subjected to a detriment (which can include a wide range of things such as not offering a promotion, denying an opportunity for training, ostracising an employee, or dismissing them) as a result of taking carer's leave.
Secondary legislation is required for carer's leave to come into effect and it is expected that it will not be until April 2024.
As statutory carer's leave is unpaid and limited to one week per year, it remains to be seen how regularly carer's leave will be used in practice. Age UK welcomed the change in their response to the consultation, commenting that the most important thing for carers is that their future employment prospects would not be affected. However, they noted that the financial strain of being a carer can be considerable and they hope that progressive employers would be encouraged to go further, including introducing paid leave or options for career breaks.