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Carer’s Leave Act 2023 – What Employers Need to Know.

New employment legislation!

Suzi Jordan
Suzi Jordan Marketing Coordinator
There are 2.4 million carers across the UK and they represent more than 1 in 7 of the current workforce.

Balancing work and care responsibilities can be challenging. Although many employers are aware of these difficulties and offer hybrid or flexible working to support their staff, a statutory right to carers leave is now being introduced to provide employment rights for those juggling paid work alongside unpaid care.

The Act gives employees the right to request and take one week of unpaid leave per year for caregiving purposes. This will be a ‘Day 1’ right, meaning it’s available to employees no matter how long they’ve been in the workplace.

The Carer’s Leave Act has received Royal Assent and is expected to come into force next year in England, Scotland and Wales and more information will be provided by the government in due course (though it will not come in for force in 2023 and we suspect April 2024 is the most likely implementation date). 

Staying informed about current legislation is crucial to avoid potential legal disputes and ensure smooth employee relations. Employers will need to understand what their responsibilities are under the new law, so that they are up to speed with their legal requirements and can prepare for the act’s implementation. 

What The New Law Says

  • Employees are entitled to take one week of unpaid leave per year, and this applies to those who are providing or arranging care for a relative or dependant

  • The leave is on top of their usual entitlement 

  • This is available to employees, no matter how long they’ve worked for you

  • The leave is for planned and foreseen caring commitments

  • The person being cared for must have a long-term care need

  • The leave can be taken flexibly – for instance in a block of 5 days, or in individual or half days, to suit the carer’s responsibilities

  • Employees will be required to self-certify their eligibility for carer’s leave

  • No evidence is required to show how the leave has been used

  • Employees will be protected from dismissal or detriment due to taking this leave, giving the same employment protections that are associated with other forms of family-related leave 

How Employers Can Prepare

This new type of statutory leave is intended to be the minimum that an employer must provide to employees. 

You will need to meet the minimum requirements set out by the Act by the time it comes into force, by preparing to deliver changes to the way you offer support to all unpaid carers in your workforce.

Update your HR policies and procedures in good time 
Review existing policies on leave and amend them to incorporate and comply with the new Carer's Leave provisions. Include details on eligibility, the process for applying for leave, and any documentation requirements.

Train Managers and relevant staff
Provide training to HR personnel and line managers. Ensure that they know how to respond to requests for leave and understand their responsibilities under the legislation.

Communication and Awareness
Inform employees about the new legislation and its provisions, highlighting how it may affect them. Include information about the Carer's Leave Act in employee handbooks and any other internal communication channels, such as WorkSmarter’s Company Announcements service. 

Supporting Carers at Work

Carers UK, which led the campaign to introduce more support for working carers, stresses the importance of creating a workplace environment where carers feel supported. 
With the average person in the UK now having a 50:50 chance of caring by aged 50 - long before they reach retirement - caring is becoming the norm, rather than something that is done by a minority.
The charity is confident that supporting carers in the workplace makes great business sense. 
It says that evidence from employers shows that Carer’s Leave supports retention and recruitment, as well as the health and wellbeing of staff with caring responsibilities. 

Free Employment Law Alerts

HR is always changing so keeping updated with new and complex legislation can seem impossible.
Cloud HR software, providing HR services through advanced platforms like WorkSmarter, is not just about holiday and absence management but can also help UK SMEs comply with complex, ever-changing legislation. 
As a WorkSmarter customer already making the most of easy-to-use HR software, you and your business are protected with free regular updates - explained clearly by our experts.
Our team of HR professionals constantly monitor legislation to keep you up to date whenever anything changes. Employment law alerts are sent direct to your inbox and won’t cost WorkSmarter users a penny.  

WorkSmarter’s team of dedicated HR consultants can assist you when you need guidance. We’ll help you navigate any HR challenges, and our experts will give advice that’s tailored to your specific situation. For more information about this service, contact us today at [email protected].
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