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22 May 2020

241: BEIS publishes consultation on new right to unpaid leave for carers

The government’s department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published a consultation seeking views on its proposal to give employees who are unpaid carers one week’s additional unpaid leave each year in order to provide care and to help them remain in work for the longer term.

The main proposals in the consultation include:

  • the right will apply to employees who care for a spouse or civil partner, child, parent, someone living in the same household or anyone else who reasonably relies on the employee for care;
  • ‘care’ will include caring for individuals with physical or mental health problems, disabilities or issues related to old age where the care is likely to last for a longer period of time, possibly six to twelve months. It would not include ordinary childcare or short-term care after a minor operation;
  • a broad definition of caring is proposed, to cover personal and practical support, helping with official or financial matters, and providing personal and medical care. The consultation asks for views on whether the leave could be taken in order to attend scheduled appointments with the person requiring care;
  • views are also sought on whether the leave should have to be taken in a single block of one week, or as individual or half days, and on what period of notice and evidence should be required from the employee. The government proposes that, in the first instance, employees should be able to self-certify their eligibility for carers’ leave and that employers could request further evidence if they wish;
  • the new right will apply only to employees, and the consultation asks whether there should be a minimum service requirement, such as three or six months or longer.
  • it is not proposed to cap the number of weeks’ leave at a maximum number over a certain number of years;
  • similar protections will apply for employees taking carers’ leave as for other kinds of leave, including the right not to be subjected to any detriment and the right to bring a claim for automatic unfair dismissal if they are dismissed for having taken leave; and
  • it is also proposed that a new right would be introduced for an employee to bring a claim if their employer has unreasonably refused to permit them to take carers’ leave.

The consultation closes at 23:45 on 3 August 2020.

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