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Carer's Leave Act Comes Into Force

On the 6th of April, the Carer’s Leave Act came into force which marks a real turning point in helping carers have a little more flexibility when it comes to juggling their work and caring responsibilities. Having only been elected in 2019, this was a landmark day for me - and proof that amongst so much political noise, it is possible to get good work done.


The Carer’s Leave Act entitles carers to 5 days of unpaid leave which can be broken up into chunks and used as needed to allow as much flexibility as possible. Being a carer and being cared for is something that almost every person will experience at some point in their lives. Many people reading this will be carers. They may not even realise we are carers. But all those regular acts – however big or small – count. Whether its washing, feeding and dressing, or driving someone to a doctors appointment, doing the food shop for a housebound neighbour or picking up medication.


In North East Fife, over 3000 people have care giving responsibilities, and it is likely that this number has increased since the latest data collection in 2011. Throughout the campaign, I met many local carers here and attended several Fife Carers support groups. One lady was caring for her grown up son with learning difficulties. Several were caring for terminally ill parents, or parents and partners with dementia. All of them doing so with huge amounts of grit and compassion. Research by Carers UK suggests that there is a significant risk for carers to burn out and end up cutting back or leaving work altogether. With the Carer’s Leave Act, I hope to help alleviate this burn out with the guarantee of time off when needed.


The bottom line is our society and our economy could not function without unpaid carers. That is why I, and so many others who have worked hard in this area, are so glad to have taken this first step towards integrating unpaid caring at home with the ability to go to work.


I am grateful to everyone who shared their experiences through the past two years, including businesses which already have carer friendly policies such as the University of St Andrews and organisations such as TSB and Centrica. Their experience really shows that offering carer’s leave is beneficial not only for carers, but for businesses too in terms of employee retention and wellbeing.


I hope that everyone reading this is aware of the Carer’s Leave regulations coming into force tomorrow, but if you are not, I recommend you visit the Carers UK website to find out all the details. I also urge you to speak to your employer to ensure you receive the leave you are entitled to.

I am still extremely pleased about the Carer’s Act coming into force and am proud of all the work that has made this happen. But this is not the end, it is the beginning. For businesses – in identifying and understanding the needs of their carer employees. For carers – seeking the support they deserve. And for politicians – looking for the next step in supporting those without whom our society truly wouldn’t function.


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