Unpaid caregivers are to be entitled to one week of unpaid leave per year under new legislation.
The Carer’s Leave Bill, which was approved in its second reading on 21 October, is set to give employees with care responsibilities the right to take one week of unpaid time off work each year to provide for, or arrange for, the care of a dependent who requires long-term care.
The law applies to eligible employees from their first day of employment, regardless of length of service.
Caregivers will be allowed to use the leave flexibly to fit their care duties and will not be obliged to explain how or with whom it will be utilised.
Currently, parents have the right to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child under 18. However, there is no existing statutotry provision or right allowing unpaid leave to care for dependents.
The number of people providing unpaid care is estimated to be over 2 million. Due to the lack of a specific statutory leave provision for these informal carers, many are forced to take other types of leave in order to provide for people who depend on them.
Business Minister Dean Russell said: “Carers play a vital role in our society, and it is only right that we support them so they can balance their caring responsibilities with their working life. These reforms will not only better the lives of millions of unpaid carers across the UK, but also the friends and family that are dependent on their compassion every day.”