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New law: Government commits to introduction of unpaid care leave for employees

Author: Atom Content Marketing

Published: 01 Dec 2021

Employers should start to prepare for new laws requiring them to provide up to a week’s unpaid leave each year for employees who are also unpaid carers for certain ‘dependents’ with a long-term need for care outside the workplace, due in 2022.

A ‘dependent’ means a spouse, partner or civil partner, including those in same sex couples; a child; a parent; a person living with the employee as part of their household; and a person who relies on the employee for care.

A dependent has a long-term need for care if they have a disability for employment law purposes, a long-term physical or mental illness or injury, or need care because of their age.

Employees will be entitled to take care leave from day one after starting employment, as half- or full days or a full week. No evidence of need is required to back up the request. The notice employees give to their employer must be at least twice the length of the leave period they ask for, plus one day. The leave can be taken not just to provide direct care themselves, but to make arrangements for care.

The employer can refuse to agree a particular request for leave if they consider it would unduly disrupt their business but must allow the leave to be taken at another time.

While the right is to unpaid leave, employers can of course choose to pay employees while they are on care leave.

The new law, which will apply in England, Wales and Scotland, is to be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows, which is likely to be during 2022.

Operative date

  • 2022


  • Employers should start planning what to put in their new care leave policies explaining the new right and how to exercise it, scheduling staff training on dealing with requests as appropriate, and considering the impact of the new laws on their HR policies generally and their overall profitability.

This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

Copyright © Atom Content Marketing

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