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Eclipse HR

by Callum Wadlan |

As the holiday season approaches it is crucial that employers ensure that they are compliant with the new carer’s leave regulations and have a robust process for handling such requests and recording time off.


Carer’s leave is a new entitlement to unpaid time off which came into effect in April and allows for the equivalent of one working week to be taken as unpaid leave in every 12-month period.  If the time worked each week varies, then this is calculated as an average.  Carer’s leave can be taken as a single block, one-off days or half-days, but must be wholly to support a dependant with long-term care needs and not for any other reason.  A dependant need not be a close family member, simply someone who the individual has caring responsibilities for.

This includes providing or arranging care for someone with a physical or mental illness or injury, a disability, or care needs because of their old age.  It can be anyone who relies on them for care, whether a family member or not, but one week of leave is the maximum any employee may be entitled to, irrespective of how many such dependants they may have.  The leave can be requested from the first day of employment by both full-time and part-time employees.


Any time taken off as carer’s leave needs to be logged separately from other leave and employees will have to provide a minimum amount of notice – either double the amount of time they’ve requested off, or three days, whichever is longer.


This is a new and different type of leave that requires a separate process and separate recording. Unlike other leave that is available for those with dependants (to take reasonable time off to deal with emergencies), this is not to cover emergency situations, so it should be possible to plan better within the working schedule.  A self-certification system is worth considering, for employees to confirm they have a dependant with long-term care needs, alongside an update to policies to reflect the new entitlement, and a recording system to log any leave taken.


Parents of children under 18 can also take up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child. This entitlement is designed for longer-term situations. Parental leave can be taken in blocks of one week up to a maximum of four weeks per year for each child. It allows parents to manage significant events in their children’s lives, such as hospital stays or specialist appointments.


It is also important to be mindful of the recent changes to flexible working requests which now allow flexible working requests to be made from the first day of employment and for up to 2 such requests to be made each year rather than one with a need to consult the individual now also an important part of the process which should be concluded within 2 months of the request.


Employers should also be mindful of the Equality Act 2010 which offers protection to employees from discrimination based on their association with a disabled person which may be relevant to those with caring responsibilities.


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