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Carer’s Leave: A guide to the new UK law

5 February 2024 5 min read

employees are now entitled to take carer's leave

In this guide, we delve into what the new carer’s leave will mean for employees, and what the practical implications will be for employers ahead of the new legislation coming into force from 6th April 2024.

What is Carer’s Leave?

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 received royal assent on 24th May 2023, with the Carer’s Leave Act Regulations 2024 presented to Parliament in December 2023 – providing more detail as to what this new type of leave entails and how it should be used.

The new leave will provide one week of unpaid leave per year for employees who are working alongside their caring responsibilities. An employee can use the leave to either directly care for a dependent, or to arrange necessary care for that dependent.

Who is eligible to receive statutory Carer’s Leave entitlement?

Eligibility for this type of leave will be determined by several factors. These include whether the employee is the primary carer, who the dependent is and whether the dependent has a long-term care need.

A dependent will be either a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, an individual living in the same household as the employee (but who isn’t a tenant, boarder, lodger or fellow employee), or anyone who is reasonably reliant on the employee for their care.

Someone with a ‘long-term care need’ will have one of the following:


  • an illness or injury (whether mental or physical) that requires (or is likely to require) care for at least three months
  • a disability under the Equality Act 2010
  • a need for care that is related to their old age


This type of leave will be a ‘day one’ right – meaning that eligible employees are entitled to use the leave straight away regardless of their length of employment in their current role. An employee does not have to provide evidence of their eligibility for carer’s leave, and, as with out statutory entitlements, an employee cannot be penalised for choosing to take advantage of it (nor be dismissed for a reason connected with their taking carer’s leave).

How can employees use Carer’s Leave?

The one week of leave can be used all at once or split throughout a rolling 12-month period, with the minimum amount permitted being half a working day (calculated as half of the employee’s usual working pattern).

Carer’s leave is deliberately intended to help employees who are caring for a dependent with a long-term condition or disability, as previously outlined by the government in its consultation response – so for ‘short-term care needs’, time off for dependents or annual leave should be used.

Considerations for employers

Under the new legislation, employers will not be permitted to deny an employee’s request to take carer’s leave – but they can postpone it if the requested dates are likely to significantly harm business operations. In this case, an employer will have to provide a written explanation as to why the leave is being postponed, and the employee has the right to be granted their leave within one month of the original desired date(s).

The statutory carer’s leave entitlement will be unpaid – though some employers may wish to consider offering pay and/or an extended leave entitlement beyond the statutory one week.

Where an employee has a contractual right to a form of carer’s leave already, they are not permitted to use both their contractual leave and statutory leave. They can choose whichever is more favourable.

In order to use carer’s leave, employees are not required to provide written notice to their employer. However, they are expected to provide some form of notice – either verbal or written – that is at least twice the length of time they are requesting as leave, or three days (whichever is longer). If an employee fails to provide the required amount of notice, an employer can choose to waive this notice requirement.

Practical implications for employers

With the new law coming into force from 6th April 2024, employers should consider the following practical implications in order to prepare:


  • Updating or creating policies to inform employees about their right to statutory carer’s leave, and the processes for requesting it and taking it
  • Educating people managers about the new right and how to handle carer’s leave requests. Given the potentially sensitive nature, some employees may not wish for their caring responsibilities to be known amongst their fellow team members
  • Logging and tracking carer’s leave requests in a system of record alongside other types of leave and sickness absences. It’s important that the right type of leave is logged each time, so that annual leave entitlements, as well as other types of leave offered, do not get recorded inaccurately – potentially leading to confusion or poor handling of employee information


For all the latest information surrounding carer’s leave in the UK, visit the government website here.

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Georgina at edays
February 5, 2024

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.