Widespread support for proposed legislation to aid unpaid carers

·2-min read
The proposals could introduce a landmark new right for unpaid carers (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)
The proposals could introduce a landmark new right for unpaid carers (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Proposed legislation which could see millions of unpaid carers receive better support in the workplace has received widespread support.

The Carer’s Leave Bill, brought forward by Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain, would introduce a landmark new right for employees with caring responsibilities of up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave annually.

The Bill has seen cross-party support pledged by 21 parliamentarians, and some 100 organisations – including employers, national and local carers’ organisations and trade unions – have publicly expressed their backing.

Ms Chamberlain, the MP for North East Fife, said it was “fantastic” to have received such support for the legislation.

She said: “A right to carer’s leave would relieve some of the pressure on millions of people up and down the country juggling paid employment with unpaid care for a family member or friend.

“It would give them flexibility to attend routine hospital appointments, for example, or help the person they care for recover from a planned operation.

“Sadly, more than half of employees with caring responsibilities do not currently have access to carer’s leave to enable them to support their loved ones in this way.

“Carer’s leave also brings significant benefits for employers, through lower recruitment and retention costs, as well as better staff planning and engagement. It will help to keep many more skilled people – the majority of whom are women – in work and contributing to our economy.”

The Bill will receive its second reading on September 9.

Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “We are delighted Wendy Chamberlain MP has brought forward the Carer’s Leave Bill. With huge swathes of the working population now juggling their job and caring for a loved one, there has never been a more important time to introduce carer’s leave.

“Our research shows us that every day in the UK at least 600 carers make the difficult decision to leave the workforce because it becomes too much – a decision made at a great personal cost, as well as at a detriment to the economy.

“Add to that the spiralling cost-of-living crisis, it is vital that unpaid carers are properly supported to stay in work. By supporting the Carer’s Leave Bill on September 9, we can signal to carers that they are visible and valued, and help millions to better balance work and care.”