The government has responded to its consultation on carers leave and confirmed that it will introduce an entitlement to carer's leave as a day one right for employees.
The entitlement will be to take up to one week (5 working days) of unpaid leave per year. It will be available to be taken flexibly, either in individual days or half days, or in a block of one week.
The new entitlement to statutory carer's leave will rely on the carer's relationship with the person being cared for, which should broadly follow the definition of dependant used in the right to time off for dependants – a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger, or boarder) or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care. It will also depend on the person being cared for having a long-term care need. This will be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age. There will be limited exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.
Employees will be required to give notice ahead of taking carer's leave. This will be in line with that of annual leave, where an employee must give notice that is twice the length of time being requested as leave, plus one day. Employers will be able to postpone, but not deny, the leave request for carer's leave. The grounds on which they can do so will be strictly limited to where the employer considers that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted.
Evidence of entitlement to carer's leave will be via self-certification, with a false application being dealt with in the same way as a claim for false sickness absence or any other disciplinary matter.
The government has also announced its intention to protect those taking carer's leave from detriment, and has said that dismissals for reasons connected with exercising the right to carer's leave will be automatically unfair.
The government states in its response to the consultation that legislation to introduce carer's leave as a day one statutory employment right will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.
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