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What the Carer’s Leave Act means for employers     

22 June 2023    |    By: Nathan Bentley

Formerly known as the ‘Carer’s Leave Bill’, the Carer’s Leave Act has recently gained Royal Assent meaning that after the appropriate consultation period, legislation written in the act will soon become law and will impact employers up and down the country.

During May 2023, the Carer’s leave Bill which was put forward in 2022 by Wendy Chamberlain MP finished its final passage through the House of Lords at a successful ‘Third Reading’ which allowed the bill to become an act which will eventually become law.

The act hopes to secure new employment rights for individuals who have home caring responsibilities, individuals who currently struggle to juggle their caring responsibilities with the responsibilities of their full time, or part time employment.

According to Carers UK, in 2020 over 7 million people found themselves in the difficult position of having to balance caring responsibilities with their paid employment. A lack of supportive legislation meant that those individuals would struggle to legitimately get the time they needed off work  to deal with caring responsibilities at home. Not only is this bad for employees as individuals, it’s bad for the labour market on the whole, with an average of 600 people now having to leave work in order to take on care responsibilities at home each day.

The act aims to use legislative powers to make it easier for these individuals to get access to time off work in order to undertake care responsibilities at home. Initially the act will enable employees to take unpaid time off work, but the ultimate goal of Carers UK is for the law to allow up to 10 days’ paid leave for any UK employee who needs it.

From the outset, the Carer’s Leave Act will:

  • Improve the employment rights of at least 2 million employees who currently balance full time work with providing care to a dependant at home.
  • Encourage employers to think more about employees that have caring responsibilities outside of work and empower them to create new internal policies to support those individuals.
  • Give employers the opportunity to do more than just the legal minimum when it comes to supporting employees who are carers and will allow employers to focus on the health and wellbeing of those individuals.
  • Ensure employers allocate an approved amount of unpaid leave to employees who need it, with the end goal of creating a law which means employers must provide 10 days’ paid leave to carers.

At the time of publishing this article the finer details of the act and how it will work are still yet to be decided. It’s suggested that from inception, the act will ensure employers must give a specified number of days of unpaid leave to individuals with caring responsibilities at home. There is no official date the law will come into force however the earliest possible date it could start to impact businesses is from April 2024. It’s expected that initially, carers will be able to take up to five days’ unpaid leave.

Between now and April next year, it’s important that employers, especially those who employ staff with additional caring responsibilities, keep up with the discussions surrounding this change in legislation so they don’t get left behind when the law finally comes into force.

For wider business in general, Carers UK have compiled some research which suggests that businesses on the whole will also benefit from this legislation. According to the research, the right for an individual to take Carer’s Leave will:

“Particularly support women, who are more likely to be juggling work and care, and who are much more likely to be in part-time work rather than full-time. It will also bring increased productivity for employers, who would improve their employee retention rates and reduce their recruitment costs. One employer estimated that they saved around £1.8 million per annum through the application of carer policies in terms of preventing unplanned absences and presenteeism and a further £1.3 million per annum in retention savings.”

The research which was supported by leading UK employers such as TSB and Centrica, as well as charities like Age UK and Stroke Association finds that UK businesses could save up to £4.8 billion per year in unplanned absences and an additional £3.4 billion in improved employee retention as a result of more flexible working policies simply by spending less money on training and recruitment and putting more focus into the wellbeing of existing employees.

Whilst it’s very clear that this bill has been set up to help improve the working experience of individuals who have additional caring responsibilities, the campaign has been very focused on ensuring that this isn’t at the expense of the employer or of UK businesses, especially smaller businesses who may struggle to fund additional paid leave for employers. Above all, the research points towards this act being mutually beneficial for all parties and not just for the welfare of a number of employees and hopefully when it comes into force, everybody will be able to benefit from greater flexibility in the workplace, when they need it.

Nathan Bentley
Article by
Nathan is a content writer at Premierline with over 5 years’ experience, specialising in news and current affairs which impact small businesses across various industries. Nathan is passionate about discussing topics that affect the workplace, covering everything from human resources, to emerging and disruptive technologies. In the past, Nathan has written for a number of different businesses, working within a wide range of industries from financial technology to hospitality and even men’s fashion.
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