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Keeping tabs on leave for carers

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As the holiday season gets underway, employers should check they are on track with the new rules for carer’s leave and that they have a process for handling requests and recording the time taken off.

Carer’s leave is a new entitlement to unpaid time off which came into effect in April and allows for the equivalent of one working week to be taken as unpaid leave in every 12-month period.  If the time worked each week varies, then it will be the average.  The leave can be taken as a single block, one-off days or half-days, but must be wholly to support a dependant with long-term care needs and not for any other reason.

This includes providing or arranging care for someone with a physical or mental illness or injury, a disability, or care needs because of their old age.  It can be anyone who relies on them for care, whether a family member or not, but one week of leave is the maximum any employee may be entitled to, irrespective of how many such dependants they may have.  The leave can be requested from the first day of employment by both full-time and part-time employees.


Any time taken off as carer’s leave needs to be logged separately from other leave and employees will have to provide a minimum amount of notice – either double the amount of time they’ve requested off, or three days, whichever is longer.


This is a new and different type of leave that requires a separate process and separate recording. Unlike other leave that is available for those with dependants, this is not to cover emergency situations, so it should be possible to plan better within the working schedule.  A self-certification system is worth considering, for employees to confirm they have a dependant with long-term care needs, alongside an update to policies to reflect the new entitlement, and a recording system to log any leave taken.


Currently, if an employee is a parent, they can take leave to look after their child. This is separate to carer’s leave but also is unpaid, and entitles parents to a total of 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday.


Parental leave is limited to four weeks for each child in each year, and has to be taken as whole weeks rather than individual days, unless the employer agrees otherwise, or if a child is disabled.   It’s available after a full year of employment, and subject to 21 days’ notice, and is recorded and passed on to new employers, if the employee changes jobs.




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This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.




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