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Carer’s leave – the new law explained

Amy Knowles

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 came into effect on 6th April 2024 and gives carers the right to apply for carer’s leave from their first day of work.

If you are a carer, you can now take up to one week of leave every twelve months to help a dependant that requires long-term care.

Who is classed as a dependant?

A dependant does not have to be a family member. It can be anyone that has a long-term care need that relies on you for care. If you have more than one dependant to care for, you will still only be entitled to one week of carer’s leave every twelve months. You cannot take one week for each dependant.

A long-term care need includes care needs related to old age, disabilities as defined under the Equality Act 2010 and any illnesses or injuries which need care for at least three months.

Taking carer’s leave

Carer’s leave can be taken as half days, full days, or a full working week. As a carer, you are entitled to leave that is equal to your usual working week. So, if you work four days per week, you are entitled to four days of carer’s leave.

Employers can pay you during carer’s leave, but they are not required to. You should check your employment contract or your organisation’s work policy to see if you would be paid when taking carer’s leave.

Unless it is an emergency, you must give notice before you take carer’s leave. The amount of notice varies depending on how much time off you need to take. Your notice must be at least three days in advance if you are requesting a half day or a full day of leave. For more than one day, your notice must be at least twice the number of days’ leave you are requesting. For example, if your request is for three days’ leave, you must give six days’ notice.

Your employer cannot refuse your request for carer’s leave, but if your leave would cause the organisation serious disruption, they can ask you to take it at another date within one month of the date you had originally requested. Your employer must put the reason for the delay and new date of your leave in writing within seven days of your request.

You do not need to give any evidence of your dependant’s care needs in order to take carer’s leave.

Returning to work after carer’s leave

Carer’s leave provides the same protection to your employment rights as other forms of leave. This means that after taking carer’s leave you will return to the same role and not be subject to any detriment as a result of taking leave. It is against the law for an employer to dismiss you because of something related to carer’s leave.

If you think you have been discriminated against for taking carer’s leave, contact our employment law team on 0151 236 8871 or submit a website enquiry here.