The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024

12 March 2024

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 are being introduced to provide employees with caring responsibilities the entitlement to one week of unpaid carer’s leave in any 12-month period.

This will come into force on 6 April 2024.

What will the regulations introduce?

  • The right to request carer’s leave will be a “day one” employment right. All employees, whether new starters or long-service employees, can request the period of absence, provided they have a dependant with a long-term care need.
  • The leave is for those who need to be absent from work so they can provide or arrange care for that dependant. The key thing to note here is that this is intended to be utilised for long-term care rather than “short-term care needs”, where instead employees should rely on the statutory right to time off for dependants (in an emergency) and compassionate leave or parental leave.
  • The definition of “dependant” mirrors the definition used for the statutory right to time off for dependants. This includes a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, or a person who lives in the same household as the employee (except as their employee, tenant, or lodger). It is a wide definition and also includes a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.
  • Long-term care need is defined as an illness or injury (either physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months, a disability under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age.
  • The leave period is capped at a week – regardless of how many dependants an individual has. The entitlement can be taken as a whole week or individual days or half days.
  • The requests may be for consecutive or non-consecutive half-days or full days. A ‘week’ means the length of time the particular employee usually works over 7 days.

Do employees have to give notice?

  • Employees must give notice of the leave but it can be verbal or in writing.
  • There is no need for employees to evidence their dependant’s care needs.
  • If the request is for a day or less, the notice period must be three days. If the request is for more than one day, the notice period must be twice as long as the leave. For example, if the request is for 2 days, the notice period must be at least 4 days.
  • The notice must include the fact that the employee is entitled to take carer’s leave and the day(s) or part of a day that will be taken.
  • Remember in the case of an emergency, there is no need for notice – employees can rely on the statutory right to time off for dependants for a reasonable amount of time off to deal with the emergency. However, if the employee knew of the situation beforehand, this fall under the new right to carer’s leave.

Can employers reject the request?

  • Employers are not able to deny the request for carer’s leave but can postpone the leave if the operation of the business would be seriously disrupted if the carer took leave at that time.
  • Employers must agree another date with the employee within one month of the requested date of leave. The reason for the delay and the new date must be put in writing within 7 days of the original request.

What remedies do employees have?

  • An employee will be able to bring an employment tribunal claim if their employer has unreasonably postponed, prevented or attempted to prevent them from taking carer’s leave. A tribunal can make a declaration and award compensation. This will be subject to what the tribunal considers “just and equitable”, taking into account the employer’s behaviour and any loss to the employee.  
  • Dismissal of an employee for a reason connected with them taking carer’s leave will be automatically unfair.

What should I do now?

  • Employers should ensure they have processes and policy in place well in advance of when the new regulations come into force.
  • Introduce a system of record-keeping to track the number of days taken.
  • Consider any additional support you can offer employees who have caring responsibilities, such as enhanced pay, enhanced leave, or flexible working.
  • Provide training to managers.

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