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Carer’s Leave Act Comes into Force on 6 April 2024

Do you juggle unpaid caring responsibilities with paid employment? 

The new Carer’s Leave Act provides much needed employment rights for people who juggle their unpaid caring responsibilities with paid employment. The Carer’s Leave Act will improve support to unpaid carers so that they can continue to work alongside their unpaid caring responsibilities.

From 6 April 2024 when the Carer’s Leave Act comes into force, employees will be entitled to unpaid leave to give or arrange care for a ‘dependant’ who has:

  • a physical or mental illness or injury that means they’re expected to need care for more than 3 months
  • a disability (as defined in the Equality Act 2010)
  • care needs because of their old age

The dependant does not have to be a family member. It can be anyone who relies on them for care, this could be a friend, or even a neighbour.

Employees are entitled to carer’s leave from their first day of work for their employer. Their employment rights (like holidays and returning to their job) are protected during Carer’s leave.

How Long Can Employees Take?

Employees can take up to one week of leave every 12 months. A ‘week’ means the length of time they usually work over 7 days. For example, if someone usually works 3 days a week, they can take 3 days of carer’s leave.

They can either take a whole week off or take individual days or half days throughout the year.

If an employee needs to care for more than one person, they cannot take a week of carer’s leave for each dependant. They can only take one week every 12 months. They can use the week of leave on more than one dependant.

If an employee is a parent, they can take up to 18 weeks’ leave to look after their child. This is separate to Carer’s leave. Further information about the Carer’s Leave Act is available on the Government website.

What About Emergencies?

If you need to look after someone in an emergency, you can take time off for this without giving a notice period. But what if you yourself have an emergency, and you can’t be at home to provide care?

We recommend that you register with our service called CERS – Carers Emergency Response Service. This free service is run by our partner Midland Mencap, who provides back-up support if you’re unable to care due to an emergency or planned medical appointment. The service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can provide support for up to 48 hours (72 hours on Bank Holidays), after which, longer-term care can be arranged if necessary. 

You can find out more about our CERS service or if you are registered with Birmingham Carers Hub, you can call the team on 0121 442 2960.

Is Your Employer Carer Friendly? 
If you have an employer who is very understanding about the caring responsibilities that you have and offers any kind of flexibility or has any Carer policies in place, please tell them about Forward Carers Carer Friendly Employer Commitment Mark that they can apply for.

If you feel that your employer would benefit from finding out how they can support staff who juggle a caring role, you could tell your HR department or line manger about Carer Friendly Workplace Training that is available.