New Right to Carer’s Leave April 2024


On 6 April 2024, the UK’s new Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 come into force, introducing a new employee entitlement. This legislation allows employees to take one week of unpaid leave each year to provide or arrange care for a dependent with a long-term care need. This leave can be used in flexible increments of half or full days, totalling up to a week, and does not require consecutive days.


Who can take Carer’s Leave?


A ‘dependent’ is defined as the employee’s spouse, civil partner, child, parent, or someone living in the same household (excluding a boarder, employee, lodger, or tenant) who reasonably relies on the employee for care. A ‘long-term care need’ includes conditions where a dependent has an illness or injury (physical or mental) requiring care for more than three months, disabilities recognised under the Equality Act 2010, or needs associated with old age.


How is Carer’s Leave taken?


Employees must provide notice of their intention to take leave, either verbally or in writing, which must be either twice the length of the intended leave period or at least three days in advance, whichever is greater. Employers have the discretion to waive this notice requirement if all other conditions are met.

Employers cannot demand evidence before granting the leave but can postpone it if business operations would be significantly disrupted. In such cases, employers must provide written justification for the delay and reschedule the leave within one month. During Carer’s Leave, employees retain their usual terms and conditions of employment, except for remuneration, and remain bound by their employment obligations.


Protection and contractual rights


Employees are protected from any detriment or dismissal related to taking, or attempting to take, Carer’s Leave. Additionally, some employers might offer better contractual rights to leave for caring responsibilities. In these instances, employees can choose the more favourable option but will still enjoy the protections of the statutory scheme.


Implications for employers


Employers must ensure they take account of the new right and meet their obligations under the new rules. Organisations with family-friendly policies will need to revisit these to ensure they include this new entitlement, particularly advising against one-size-fits-all leave policies. Update them to account for this new right.

Employers will also need to understand what constitutes unpaid care and raising awareness of this in the workplace. Employers will also need to establish procedures to approve and monitor carers’ leave requests.

This new legislation represents a significant shift towards supporting employees with caregiving responsibilities, ensuring they have the necessary time to attend to their dependent’s needs without fear of job loss or employment penalties. However, as this is an unpaid right, the extent to which the new carers’ leave will be adopted remains to be seen. Inclusive employers may even consider offering carer’s leave an additional paid leave, enhancing the statutory provision in line with other types of leave.


Need assistance?


For specialist advice on the new rules and how they impact your organisation, contact employment law and HR experts.


Carer’s Leave FAQs


Who qualifies for Carers’ Leave?

Employees who are caring for someone who needs support due to illness, disability, or a terminal condition can apply for Carers’ Leave. They must have 26 weeks’ service with your company.


What about caring for a child?

Currently, Carers’ Leave is not intended for childcare. However, existing parental leave options like Paternity Leave or Shared Parental Leave might be more suitable in such cases.


How much Carers’ Leave can an employee take?

Employees are entitled to one week of unpaid Carers’ Leave per year.


How much notice do employees need to give?

Employees must give notice in writing at least notice 28 days before the first day of their intended leave.


Do we need to pay employees for Carers’ Leave?

No, Carers’ Leave is unpaid. However, you are encouraged to consider offering company sick pay or other benefits during this time.


Can we reject a Carers’ Leave request?

Yes, but only on specific grounds like insufficient notice or if it would have a negative impact on the business that cannot be reasonably mitigated. Consultation with the employee is essential before refusing a request.


What documentation should we request?

You can ask for evidence that the employee is caring for someone who needs support, but it shouldn’t be overly intrusive.


How do we handle workloads during employee absence?

Consider discussing alternative work arrangements during the leave request process. Encouraging open communication and task delegation within teams can help manage workloads.


Last updated: 6 April 2024


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

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Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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