Carer’s Leave becomes law

A Bill to introduce five days of leave for unpaid carers has received Royal Assent and become law. The Carer’s Leave Act will come into effect in 2024.

The Carer’s Leave Bill, a Private Member’s Bill tabled by Wendy Chamberlain MP, passed its final stages in the House of Lords in May and will now become an Act of Parliament.

The Carer’s Leave Act

The Carer’s Leave Act will give all unpaid carers in the UK the right to take up to five whole days of unpaid leave for their caring responsibilities.

Carer’s Leave can be used flexibly, meaning that it doesn’t have to be taken all at once or in whole days. People can take carer’s leave in half days or hours. How much leave you’ll get depends on whether you work part or full-time. For part-time workers, your leave entitlement will be based on how many hours you work a week.

People won’t have to provide evidence to employers of how they use their leave or who they use it for. The leave can be used for anything related to caring responsibilities, such as attending a loved one’s hospital appointments or taking a break from caring. This gives people the freedom to use their carer’s leave for whatever they need it for. Without being questioned by their employer.

A victory for people caring for loved ones with MS

This news is a landmark victory for unpaid carers in the UK. Until now, people who provide unpaid care to a loved one with MS weren’t legally entitled to leave from work for their caring responsibilities. This bill means that, by law, employers will have to make provision for their employees with caring responsibilities.

Many people who care for loved ones with MS have told us how their caring responsibilities impact their jobs. Two thirds of people who answered our recent family and friends survey said their work had been impacted by their caring responsibilities.

The MS community has played an important part in getting the Carer’s Leave Act passed. On the passage of the act, Wendy Chamberlain said: “I want to thank the MS Society and the MS community in North-East Fife and beyond for all that they do and for their support in reaching what is a momentous day.”

What are we doing to support carers’ rights?

The Carer’s Leave Act is a huge step forward for carers’ rights. Thanks to the act, more employers will be encouraged to go one step further than the law and offer paid leave.

However, we know there’s still a long way to go. This bill won’t help the many people who have retired or had to give up work because of their caring responsibilities. Millions of people miss out on support every day because they don’t meet strict eligibility criteria for benefits like Carer’s Allowance. Or because their health professionals aren’t signposting them to support. This's why it's so important that we keep campaigning for carers’ rights.

Our Mental Health and MS report also found that MS can significantly impact the mental health of family and friends of people with MS. Family and friends of people with MS told us how they weren’t offered support from health professionals like their GP or kept involved in decisions about their loved one’s treatment. We’re calling on the NHS to ensure all health professionals signpost people caring for loved ones with MS to the right mental health support when they need it.

We’re continuing to call on the Government to reform Carer’s Allowance as part of the Carer Poverty Coalition. Together, we’re calling for the eligibility criteria and how much the benefit is worth to be improved.

The right to unpaid leave is brilliant news for carers, but we know there’s more work to be done. Because everyone caring for someone with MS should get the help they need.

To stay up to date on our campaigning around unpaid carers, join our campaigns community.