This site uses services that use cookies to deliver a better experience and analyse traffic. You can learn more about the services we use in our cookies policy.

Care Guides > The Carer’s Leave Act 2024 | Everything Employees & Employers Need To Know

The Carer’s Leave Act 2024 | Everything Employees & Employers Need To Know

Seniorcare by Lottie explain The Carer's Leave Act

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

From April 2024, the Carer’s Leave Act will come into effect. Once active, all UK employers must give every employee who provides long-term care up to one week’s unpaid leave per year.

In this article, we’ve explained what the Carer’s Leave Act is in greater detail, what it means for both employees and employers, how an employee should ask their employer for carer’s leave and how employers can prepare for this new act coming into effect.

If you’re an employer, you can also speak directly to our team of experts about supporting carers in the workplace through Seniorcare by Lottie.

We help employers provide bespoke carer policies

Let’s chat about the benefits you can offer.

Empower your workforce

In this article:

  1. What is The Carer’s Leave Act?
  2. Carers in the workplace statistics 2024
  3. What does The Carer’s Leave Act mean for employees?
  4. What does The Carer’s Leave Act mean for employers?
  5. How should an employee ask their employer for carer’s leave?
  6. How can employers prepare for the Carer’s Leave Act?
  7. Do employees require additional support?
  8. What other questions surround the Carer’s Leave Act?

What Is The Carer’s Leave Act?

The Carer's Leave Act is a new law which will come into force from April 6th 2024. Once active, all UK employers must offer their employees up to one week’s unpaid leave per year. An employee will be eligible to take this leave if they look after a 'dependent' who has a 'long-term care need'. The employee can then spend this week providing or arranging care for a dependent (such as an older relative).

The number of days within this ‘week’ depends on your working situation. For example, if you have a five-day working week, you can take five days of unpaid leave. These five days can be taken non-continuously, so not as consecutive days.

This act applies to all types of employees, such as full-time and part-time employees, but it doesn’t apply to people like contractors.

It’s estimated that the implementation of this act will directly impact up to two million employees who are currently juggling paid employment and caregiving responsibilities.

What is a dependent?

The Carer’s Leave Act has defined a dependent as any of the following:

  1. A spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee
  2. Somebody who lives in the same household as the employee (excluding boarders, employees, lodgers and tenants)
  3. Somebody who reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care

What is a long-term care need?

The Carer’s Leave Act specifies that a dependent will have a long-term care need if:

  1. They have a physical or mental injury that requires (or is likely to require) care for more than three months
  2. They have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 (this means that they must have a mental or physical impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to do day-to-day activities)
  3. They require care for a reason connected to their old age

Check out our Carer’s Leave Act webinar for more information on this topic.

Carers in the Workplace Statistics 2024

Our key findings

The Seniorcare by Lottie team have pulled together several stats highlighting the importance of the Carer’s Leave Act, including:

Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics have also conducted research about people juggling caring and working responsibilities. Most startingly, they predicted that by 2024, more employees would have an elderly person dependent on them than a child.

They also found that:

  • 80% of employees with eldercare responsibilities have admitted that balancing work and care affects their performance, yet only 20% of organisations were aware of this
  • Since COVID-19, 2.8 million workers have taken on carer responsibilities
  • 350,000 employees leave work every year to care for a loved one

Carers Trust

The Carers Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out polling of the general public, including adults who currently provide unpaid care. These findings can be read in this Carers Week report.

Some of the key statistics uncovered were that:

  • 50% of the general public have provided unpaid care at some point in their lives
  • 50% of workers are stressed due to their caregiving responsibilities, with 20% falling ill as a result
  • 73% of people who are currently providing or have previously provided unpaid care said that they don’t identity as a carer
  • 71% of people said that being a family member or friend was a barrier to identifying as a carer

What Does The Carer’s Leave Act Mean For Employees?

  • Unpaid carers will have dedicated leave for the first time - Unpaid carers have never had their own dedicated leave period before. Being given this is a massive step towards properly recognising caregivers in the workplace

  • There will be greater flexibility - Before this act, caregivers would have to either use their annual leave or take a day off sick so they could look after their loved ones. However, they’ll now be able to take a week of unpaid time off work, without using up any annual leave

  • This act will lead to an attitude shift - This act has opened up conversations that weren’t previously being had. Now, elderly care is an increasingly spoken-about topic within the workplace

What Does The Carer’s Leave Act Mean For Employers?

  • Employers must provide unpaid leave for all employees - The headline of this act is that employers must now provide a week’s leave to people who look after somebody else. Providing this leave will help give these employees the respect and recognition they deserve

  • Preparation is needed - HR managers should prepare for the incoming Carer’s Leave Act, to ensure their workplace isn’t caught out. Being prepared early will mean greater clarity, as all employees will understand exactly what support they’re entitled to. This can be done by ensuring employee handbooks are up to date with information about the Carer’s Leave Act, including who qualifies and how to apply

  • Employers should think about what other support they can offer - As a minimum, employers will have to grant employees a week’s unpaid leave. However, employers should consider this act as the beginning, rather than the end. After all, providing additional support and extra benefits will likely make your workplace a better and more inclusive one, improving employee retention

How Should An Employee Ask Their Employer For Carer’s Leave?

There's no set way that an employee should request to take carers leave. This could be a written or verbal request. However, an employee must give their employer sufficient notice.

An employee must either give notice of either (whichever is longer):

  1. 3 days
  2. Twice the number of days of leave they are taking as leave

For example, if an employee wants to take 2 days leave, they must give their employer at least 4 days’ notice. However, if an employee wants to take 1 day of leave, they must give at least 3 days’ notice.

An employee cannot be required to supply evidence to their employer that they're eligible to take carer’s leave.

Can an employer refuse their employee Carer’s Leave?

While an employer isn’t allowed to deny an employee’s request to take carer’s leave, they can postpone it if business operators would be disrupted due to the employee taking leave during that period.

If your employer delays your carer’s leave, they must provide written notice within seven days of the request, explaining their reason for postponing the leave. They also need to offer suggested revised dates of when your carer’s leave could be taken, which must be within one month of the original requested dates.

If an employer refuses your requested leave for whatever reason, you could raise your case with an employment tribunal. By doing this, your employer will incur the fees of defending and any compensation if the claim is successful.

How Can Employers Prepare For The Carer’s Leave Act?

The Carer’s Leave Act is due to come into effect on the 6th of April 2024, so employers should begin preparing in advance, especially as it can often take a while to get stakeholder approval for implementing things into the workplace such as employee benefits.

Some organisations will only offer the mandatory statutory leave of seven days, while others may choose to enhance this benefit and provide unpaid carer’s leave for longer.

Do Employees Require Additional Support?

Yes, employees will likely require support beyond what the Carer’s Leave Act can offer. The biggest drawback of this act is the unpaid element, as many employees may struggle to take an additional week off of work when they aren’t being paid to do so.

One week likely also won’t be enough for many carers to provide or arrange care, although these days can be taken non-continuously (so not in one go) if needed.

Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife, has said that one of the huge challenges when speaking with unpaid carers in her constituency is the number of people who have left work because of their caring responsibilities, so they wouldn’t benefit from this act.

Carers UK estimates that unpaid care in England and Wales alone is valued at £445 million a day - a staggering £162 billion a year. This economic value has increased by 29% in a decade.

So, without these carers, the UK economy would be under even greater stress and strain.

45% of these carers are estimated to be unable to afford their monthly expenses. This rises to 67% for carers who claim Carer’s Allowance or the Carers element of Universal Credit.

However, the Carer’s Leave Act represents a big step in the right direction. By providing the recognition that unpaid carers need and deserve, this topic and the responsibilities held by unpaid carers are now more widely discussed in workplaces.

What additional support could employers offer?

While organisations are only legally required to offer basic statutory leave, we predict more organisations will use the Carer’s Leave Act as a platform to offer additional benefits to unpaid carers, including knowledgeable advice services such as Seniorcare by Lottie.

This policy could even be implemented earlier if organisations wish to do so, but there’s no legal requirement to do this.

Many organisations find attracting and retaining top employees a challenge, so they may see offering enhanced benefits as a way of getting ahead of other employers. Some of these workplace benefits could include longer periods of unpaid leave, additional paid leave, remote working and more flexible working hours.

In fact, 2023 research from Morgan Stanley shows that 93% of employees prioritise retirement planning assistance when choosing where to work.

The Carer’s Leave Act is an excellent opportunity for forward-thinking employers to exceed expectations by implementing their own policies and benefits which will work alongside the Carer’s Leave Act. Proactive HR & Benefits Managers will reap the rewards of doing this come April 2024.

Polly Whitelam, an Employment Associate at Pinsent Masons agrees, explaining that employers can make themselves stand out from competitors by enhancing employees entitlement to carer’s leave by offering paid leave, or leave in excess of one week. She explained that in the current employment market, many employees are demanding more than the standard benefits offered by most companies. The more that employers can do to improve their offering, the more likely they'll be able to attract the highest quality employees.

Employers could offer additional support, such as:

  • Recognising the day-to-day lives of caregivers and offering practical and emotional support to help them cope with this
  • Raising awareness within the workplace and creating safe spaces for carers to open up about their experiences
  • Creating carer networks where caregivers can access the support they need
  • Reviewing other benefits and policies to see how carers could be better supported in the workplace

What Other Questions Surround the Carer’s Leave Act?

Can an employee apply for the leave when caring for an in-law?

Yes, they can, provided the in-law relies on the employee to give care and has long-term care needs.

If a parent is already in a care home but needs moving to another one, are you entitled to take the leave?

This situation would fall within the circumstances set out within the Carer’s Leave Act, and the parent would still be classed as a dependent. This means an employee could take unpaid leave to move their loved one from one care home to another.

Can this leave be taken during a notice period after having resigned?

There’s no mention within the act of it not applying during your notice period, so you should be able to do so. However, if employers offer enhanced entitlements, you probably wouldn’t be able to take these during your notice period.

Seniorcare by Lottie

For more information on eldercare benefits, check out Seniorcare by Lottie, the UK’s leading eldercare employee benefit solution. Seniorcare combines clever technology and human expertise to provide much-needed support for employees who juggle work and caring for an elderly dependent.

Seniorcare by Lottie is designed to relieve any burden when it comes to care and work. With the Carer’s Leave Act becoming law on April 1st, we’re seeing a sharp increase in companies adding eldercare support as an employee benefit, including some of the biggest businesses in the UK. Join us in empowering your workforce and reshaping employee wellbeing together.

Similar Blog Posts

Based on your selected criteria and the activity of similar individual's using Lottie.