Unpaid Carers Leave 2024

Lady looking at paper form in filing cabinet

02 April 2024

From 6 April 2024, employees will be entitled to unpaid leave to give or arrange care for a ‘dependant’ who has:

  • a physical or mental illness or injury that means they’re expected to need care for more than 3 months
  • a disability (as defined in the Equality Act 2010)
  • care needs because of their old age.

The dependant does not have to be a family member. It can be anyone who relies on them for care.

Employees are entitled to carer’s leave from their first day of work for their employer. Their employment rights (like holidays and returning to their job) are protected during carer’s leave.

The Act will help support unpaid carers to remain in work alongside their unpaid caring responsibilities – and, given the current cost of living crisis, there has never been a more important time to do so. Carers UK’s evidence from employers, through Employers for Carers, is that a right to Carer’s Leave supports retention and recruitment, as well as the health and wellbeing of employees with caring responsibilities.

Although the ultimate goal remains up to 10 days' paid leave from work for all carers in employment, Carers UK believes unpaid leave will deliver a number of different benefits. 

The Act will:

  • Give rights to at least 2 million employees who are carers.
  • Prompt employers to whom this applied to think about their employees with caring responsibilities, and for many, create carer-related policies for the first time.
  • Mean that more forward-looking employers will go further than the legislation required and introduce paid Carer’s Leave, to help them stay ahead with recruitment.
  • Support carers' health and wellbeing. Research shows that having a supportive employer and the ability to take time off work to provide care (Carer’s Leave) can help to mitigate the pressures carers face.
  • Recognise and value carers, which is critically important to them.

Economic and social impact of Carer's Leave

Carers UK research shows that giving carers the right to take Carer’s Leave will:

  • Improve finances for carers in the short and longer term as they are more able to juggle work and care.
  • 37% of working carers said they needed unpaid Carer’s Leave, and a further 1 in 7 said if they didn’t get it, they would have to reduce working hours or give up work altogether.
  • Particularly support women, who are more likely to be juggling work and care, and who are much more likely to be in part-time work rather than full-time.
  • Bring increased productivity for employers, who would improve their employee retention rates and reduce their recruitment costs. One employer estimated that they saved around £1.8 million per annum through the application of carer policies in terms of preventing unplanned absences and presenteeism and a further £1.3 million per annum in retention savings.
  • Save UK companies up to £4.8 billion a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4 billion in improved employee retention by adopting flexible working policies to support those with caring responsibilities.
  • Bring economic gains for the Treasury, through increased productivity, due to more carers being able to continue juggling work alongside their unpaid caring responsibilities, rather than having to leave the labour market. Our research in 2019 showed as many as 600 people a day were having to quit work because they were not getting the support they needed.