The Government has confirmed that unpaid carers will now be able to take up to one week of unpaid leave per year.
To be eligible, employees must provide care for someone with a long term care need such as an illness or injury covered as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Leave can be taken flexibly either in individual or half days, up to a block of one week. Employees who care for a dependent, as classed by employment law, will get this right from day one of employment.
A spouse or civil partner, child, parent, or person who lives in the same household all fall under this category. Exemptions include tenants and lodgers or someone who relies on them for care such as an elderly neighbour.
Although the new law has not been passed yet it will be introduced soon, so employers should begin preparing now.
Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, says: “Employers need to ensure that they understand how the right to carers leave works. Employees are entitled to many different rights to leave, including parental leave, shared parental leave and time off to pension trustees, so it’s important to know who can take what.
“There will be limited scope for refusing a carers leave request so employers should ensure they put new policies in place to cover it. They will also need to implement processes to record time off as carers leave and keep a tally of how much is taken per year.
“Managers and HR staff will need training on this newest employment right so that they are aware of how a request should be dealt with and ensure they don’t deny a request from an employee who meets the criteria.”