A little under a year on from when I introduced my Carer's Leave Bill in Parliament, I am delighted to say that it has now received Royal Assent and has become law.
From next year, because of this legislation, unpaid carers will become entitled for the first time to take additional unpaid leave from work to help balance caring responsibilities. Unpaid carers are the backbone of our society. Millions of people care for loved ones, doing everything from day-to-day physical caring, washing, dressing and feeding for those who cannot care for themselves, to things like shopping for a housebound elderly relative.
Yet far too many unpaid carers go without adequate support and struggle to balance caring responsibilities and work. I have met with and heard from carers in North East Fife and across the country, and many have made the difficult decision to leave their jobs because they simply can’t make it work.
It is a huge step forward and I feel deeply privileged to have had a role in making it happen. I am very grateful to the carers and carers’ organisations that I met with over the last year for sharing their experiences of balancing work and care. It has been a long road to get to this day, but it has come because of their tireless campaign.
There is still much more to do. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I want to see paid leave for carers. But I hope that this law can set in motion a transformation in the recognition of and support for carers in the workplace. Carers deserve thanks and so much more. They deserve every opportunity to thrive.