New rights for carer’s leave

This week, the Carer’s Leave Act became UK law, bringing in new rights for unpaid carers who work.

Until recently, unpaid carers didn’t have a right to time off from work for caring responsibilities. This has left many people feeling forced to use their holiday allowance or having to take sick leave.

Last year, a new law was passed through Parliament that gives unpaid carers the right to up to five days' unpaid leave from work for their caring responsibilities. On Saturday the law passed into regulations, meaning that the Carer’s Leave Act is now in effect.

Who can the Carer’s Leave Act help?

If you’re an unpaid carer and you also have a paid job, the Carer’s Leave Act could help.

Many people with MS have friends or family members who help look after them. This could be in all sorts of ways like intimate care or helping someone get washed and dressed. In the eyes of the law, anyone who looks after someone, and doesn’t get paid for it, is an unpaid carer. Even if you wouldn’t define yourself as one.

What does the Carer’s Leave Act give me?

The Carer’s Leave Act says anyone in employment who cares for someone can take up to five days' unpaid leave for their caring responsibilities every year. You don’t need to have already told your employer you’re a carer to use the law. And you don’t have to tell your employer what you want to use it for.

You can find out more information about the Carer’s Leave Act and how carer’s leave works on the Carers UK website.

How do I ask for carer’s leave?

All employers now have a legal responsibility to give people carer’s leave when they ask for it. But some employers might not know about the new law yet.

If your employer doesn’t know about carer’s leave, you can signpost them to Carers UK’s website or the government’s information about Carer’s Leave on their website.

What next for carers’ rights

The Carer’s Leave Act is the very first piece of legislation to solidify carers’ rights in the law.

Family and friends of people living with MS have frequently told us about how difficult it is to juggle caring responsibilities and work. In our 2022 Family and Friends survey, 20% of respondents said that providing help to a loved one had resulted in them having to retire early.

Carer’s leave has been urgently needed for a long time. But it is not the end of the story. There is much more still to be done to improve carers’ rights.

Our general election manifesto

Back in March, we launched our general election manifesto. It sets out our priorities for the new Government. We want to see the next government reform the social care system so that it works better for working age disabled adults. And we’re calling for a reform of Carer’s Allowance so that disabled people, their friends and family can live free from poverty.

And, as members of the Carer Poverty Coalition, we’re calling on the new government to introduce better employment rights for unpaid carers. Including the introduction of paid Carer’s Leave and new rights to flexible working.

To get involved in our General Election campaigning, join our campaigns community.

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You can also download our full manifesto (PDF, 428.17 KB) to find out more.