Crucial details relating to the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 have been published, after the draft regulations were laid in Parliament on 11 December 2023. This includes the announcement that the Act will come into force on 6 April 2024.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 will give employees who are unpaid carers up to five days unpaid leave from work a year in support of their caring responsibilities, something that Carers UK has worked towards for years.
The draft regulations set out important detail relating to the Act, confirming previous Government documentation published as the legislation was introduced into Parliament.
The draft regulations confirm that to be entitled to the provision, employees need to be providing long term care – the definition of which is clearly set out in the law – and that the appropriate notice period an employee needs to give to take the leave is twice the length of time that needs to be taken in advance of the earliest day of leave.
The explanatory note to the draft regulations also confirms that the legislation does not require an employee to notify their employer in writing regarding their request to take Carer’s Leave, although they can do so if they wish to.
As expected, leave will be able to be taken in half or full days, up to and including taking a block of a whole week of leave at once. The draft regulations set out how to calculate a week’s leave, including for employees with less regular working patterns.
The draft regulations confirm that the legislation will cover employees in England, Wales and Scotland.
Importantly, employees taking Carer’s Leave will have the same employment protections as associated with other forms of family related leave (i.e. Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Parental Bereavement, Shared Parental and Parental Leave). This includes protection from dismissal or detriment as a result of having taken the leave.
The draft regulations still need to be passed by Parliament and Carers UK will provide further updates when this happens. We also expect guidance to be made available in advance of the legislation coming into force on 6 April 2024.
Responding to the publication of the draft regulations, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “It’s really exciting to get the implementation date set out in the draft regulations, as well as the other details that we’ve been waiting for. Next April, we’re expecting over 2 million employees to be entitled to the new rights contained in the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 – something that we’ve been working towards for a long time.
“Our most recent research with carers builds on our strong evidence base to show that this will make a significant difference to their lives – helping with some of the stresses which come when juggling work and care.
“Employers we work with through our Employers for Carers forum, like Centrica, have demonstrated that supporting unpaid carers makes a real difference to both retaining staff and to the productivity of their business. Within a tight labour market, this makes all the difference to also be able to recruit from the widest possible pool of talent.
“I urge employers to get in touch and work with us to make the most of this new legislation – which is good for employers and good for employees alike.”