Last reviewed 24 September 2021

In March 2020, the Department for Business, Energy &Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a consultation asking for comments on a proposal to give employees a week of unpaid leave each year to provide care.

Having considered the 840 replies which the consultation received, the Government has now issued its response in a document available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1019841/carers-leave-consultation-government-response.pdf.

This confirms its intention to introduce an entitlement to carer’s leave as a day one right for employees and outlines the decisions that the Government has taken on what the leave entitlement will look like.

Unpaid carers will be able to take up to one week (five working days) of unpaid leave per year. This can be taken flexibly, either in individual days or half-days, up to a block of one week.

Eligibility will rely on the carer’s relationship with the person being cared for, which should broadly follow the definition of dependant used in the right to time off for dependants: a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger, or boarder) or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.

The person being cared for should have a long-term care need.

This would be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age. There would be limited exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.

There is no indication as to a timetable for introducing this new right, however, and the response document makes clear that legislation to introduce the day one statutory employment right will be brought forward “when parliamentary time allows”.