Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Bill closer to becoming law

On Thursday, a private member’s bill promoted by Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife passed its third reading without opposition and now goes to the Lords. As the Conservatives do not oppose the bill, it is set to become law.

Chamberlain said the new employment rights in the bill are vital at a time when the Government are trying to get people, especially the over-50s, back to work. The bill creates a new entitlement for employees to take up to a week of unpaid leave a year in order to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need.

Speaking to a near empty Commons chamber, Wendy Chamberlain said the Carer’s Leave Bill:

Statistics from the 2020-21 family resources survey show that approximately 4.2 million people across the UK are providing unpaid care by looking after an elderly or disabled family member or another dependant, and that the majority of those individuals are women aged over 50.

The reality is that becoming a carer is something that can happen to any one of us. Caring is a reality for many millions of people across the UK…

Sadly, Carers UK research found in 2021 that 37% of working carers said that they needed unpaid carer’s leave in order to manage working and caring, and a further one in seven said that without carer’s leave, they would have to reduce their working hours or give up work altogether…

The successful passage of the Bill will be a significant milestone: carer’s leave will provide increased flexibility to unpaid carers who are balancing paid employment with their caring responsibilities. It will enable them to take some time out of work if required, which will support them to stay in work because, vitally, they will not have to choose between caring and working…

All employees who meet the eligibility conditions will be entitled to that unpaid leave, regardless of how long they have worked for their employer…

The leave will be available to take flexibly, in half-day increments. Importantly for employers and employees, there will be no requirement to provide evidence in relation to a request for carer’s leave…

Employees taking carer’s leave will have the same employment protections associated with other forms of family-related leave. That includes protection from dismissal or detriment as a result of having taken the leave…

The Bill does not use the usual narrow definition of “dependent” and includes anyone who may “reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care”.

Carer’s leave is a right to have, rather than a right to request… An employer will be able to postpone but not deny the leave…

This new employment right makes caring as ordinary a part of working life as taking a sick day with covid or maternity leave after a baby. It will be a huge shift in how we understand carers.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.
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One Comment

  • Mel Borthwaite 4th Feb '23 - 6:09pm

    I can see why this measure will be supported across the political spectrum. Those advocating for employees will believe this extends workers’ rights. Those advocating for employers will believe it better that honest employees are given the option of taking unpaid time off rather than taking the time off as paid sickness leave.

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