Unpaid carers to be entitled to five days leave

Unpaid carers for a person with long-term care needs will be entitled to up to five days annual unpaid leave under new legislation from tomorrow.

The law is designed to protect and assist employees with care responsibilities and is effective from the first day of employment.

Notice to the employer for paid leave has to be given to employers and has to be for twice as much time as the leave required – or at the employers’ discretion for shorter notice.

Employers can postpone leave when certain conditions are considered.


Kerry Hudson, personal injury and employment solicitor at Coventry and Warwickshire law firm, Brindley Twist Tafft & James (BTTJ), said: “I am sure there are many employees who have the worry of juggling jobs and the responsibility of caring for someone. The new legislation acknowledges that there is a need to help those employees. Importantly if an employee needs that leave, the legislation is designed to give them protection from being dismissed or suffering detriment simply because they have exercised that right.

“If an employee previously felt vulnerable asking for time to help someone for whom they had caring responsibilities, the introduction of this legislation hopefully gives them new comfort affording them new statutory rights and protection.”

Chris Denny, partnership director at Curam, said: “While this is an improvement on current employment law, which doesn’t offer any benefits for those who need to provide care, it still falls short in supporting those who need to spend more time caring. Employers must do more to destigmatise caregiving, balancing diversity issues and creating better working policies for caregivers.  

“With an ageing population and a broken care system that can make securing government funding for care difficult or privately hiring a carer a slow, expensive ordeal, more people may be forced to step away from work to become an unpaid carer which can lead to debt. The new legislation has brought unpaid care onto the HR agenda. HR departments must provide open dialogue and support for caregivers, along with more flexibility, to enable them to care without negatively affecting their careers.  

“Organisations must employ an employee benefits strategy that is reflective of the pressures in today’s society and provides access to effective, ethical and affordable care services to help bridge the gap left by statutory support. This can minimise the impact of caregiving on people’s careers and reduce productivity loss for companies.” 

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