Balancing caring responsibilities and work can be challenging and can limit the participation of unpaid carers in the labour market. Women, are often still the primary carers within the family unit and are disproportionately impacted. In response to this challenge, the Government pledged to consider the question of dedicated employment rights for carers alongside existing employment rights. The 2019 Government manifesto further committed to introducing a week of leave for unpaid carers.

To fulfil this commitment, the Government launched a consultation on carer’s leave in March 2020, which recognised that unpaid carers face particular challenges in balancing work and caring responsibilities that may warrant a specific new employment right to time off from work. There are around five million people across the UK providing unpaid care by looking after an elderly or disabled family member, relative or friend. Nearly half of unpaid carers are also in work. As a result of the UK’s ageing population, the number of people who rely on informal care, and the number of people who provide this invaluable service to continue to increase.

The consultation has now been released and it clearly sets out how new legislation will mean new employment rights to Carers Leave Entitlement for all employees from day one of employment. The paper also highlights how eligibility will be defined, how the leave is taken and what the leave can be used for.

In response to the consultation, Terry Hawkins, Chief Executive at Crossroads Care Surrey said:

“This marks great progress for unpaid carers, those who sacrifice so much, giving incredible amounts of time, energy and love in caring for loved ones, often to the detriment of their own life, including stepping back or giving up a good career.”

In advance of the new legislation, Crossroads Care Surrey are encouraging Employers to begin to prepare for giving working carers a greater level of flexibility at work. This might include a pledge your support to the Employers’ Charter for working carers. A charter which Crossroads Care Surrey launched during 2021  which encourages commitment from employers showing an understanding of the significant role unpaid carers have in society and outlines how employers will recognise and support carers in the workplace.

To find out more about The Employers’ Charter for working carers, including information about how Crossroads can help your business to thrive within the context of the new legislation, including support with carer friendly policy, specific training for line managers to understand how to spot when employees may be caring and support packages including membership at Employers’ Charter