North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Bill has today passed its second reading in the House of Commons. It will continue through the parliamentary process on its way to becoming law.
The Bill would would give an estimated 2.3 million carers across the UK a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year. Carer’s UK have described this as a ‘landmark’ piece of legislation which would help carers to better balance work and care.
Ms Chamberlain has met with numerous carers in recent months. In her speech she discussed the the experiences of constituents struggling to work while fulfilling their caring responsibilities. She argued that the Bill would provide much-needed support.
The Bill passed its second reading unopposed and will continue to the next stage of parliamentary scrutiny.
Speaking in the House of Commons debate on the Bill, Wendy Chamberlain said:
“I want to begin by saying that carers in many ways are the absolute backbone of our country. We think of caring for our loved ones as often a small and personal thing. We do it behind closed doors. It can be full-time personal care, washing, dressing or feeding, things that we instinctively think of as private. Or it can be things such as making appointments, or taking somebody to hospital appointments, small things we do for people we love or know without questioning it. But taking it all together Mr Deputy Speaker all of these individual acts of caring are huge.
“What my Bill will mean is that for the first time ever all employees from the first day of their employment will be entitled to take time off to help manage caring responsibilities and this fills a gap in current law where employees and take limited time off for emergencies and parents can take time off to care for their children, but there is no provision for day today planned caring of adults.
“It's estimated that 2.3 million carers, and that's a conservative estimate, can't wait for the perfect policy to get put in place. They need these rights and they need them as soon as possible. According to the 2011 Census there are at least 3,000 carers in my North East Fife constituency, and I spent summer recess meeting with many of them and I've been told time and time again, that though this Bill won't make their lives easy, because caring is challenging, it will help just that little bit to help keep some of the plates spinning.”
She later added:
“It was a great privilege to introduce this Bill into Parliament, to lead the debate on it, and now to see it continue on its journey to becoming law.
“I am grateful to the many carers I have met since taking up this cause for sharing their experiences with me, and to Carers UK who have provided so much support.
“I look forward to continuing my work on this Bill and, with the help of my fellow MPs, seeing it become law.”