UK

Scottish Liberal Democrat MP’s Bill to give unpaid carers leave to become law

Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain’s carer’s Bill will become law (Aaron Chown/PA)
Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain’s carer’s Bill will become law (Aaron Chown/PA)

Carers will be able to take unpaid leave from their employment after a Scottish Liberal Democrat MP’s Bill passed in Westminster.

North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Bill will become law after it passed its final stage in the House of Lords on Friday.

It will take effect next year once it is given royal assent.

An estimated 2.4 million carers across the UK will have a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year.

The entitlement applies to all employees regardless of length of service and starting from day one of their employment.

It also aims to minimise the pressure on employees who have to juggle work and caring.

It has been described by charity Carers UK as a “landmark” piece of legislation which would help unpaid carers balance their work and caring commitments.

As it cleared in the Commons earlier this year, Ms Chamberlain said caring would become an “ordinary part of working life”, similar to taking a sick day or maternity leave.

While leading the legislation through Westminster, Ms Chamberlain met carers and organisations in her constituency and across the country.

She also heard from businesses who have similar policies in place about the benefits on reduced recruitment costs, improved retention and staff wellbeing.

Ms Chamberlain said: “I am over the moon to see my Carer’s Leave Bill pass its final hurdle.

“It will become law and take effect next year, with millions of unpaid carers across the country gaining a new employment right for the first time.

“I want to thank all the carers and carers’ organisations that I met with over the last year.

“I’m hugely grateful that they took the time to share their experiences of balancing work and care with me. It has been a long road to get to this day, but it has come because of their tireless campaign.

“Next year, because of this law, unpaid carers will become entitled for the first time to take additional unpaid leave from work to help balance caring responsibilities.

“It is a huge step forward and I feel deeply privileged to have had a role in making it happen.

“I hope that this law will kickstart a transformation in the recognition and support of carers in the workplace.

“Carers are the backbone of our society. They deserve thanks and so much more. They deserve every opportunity to thrive and I believe my Carer’s Leave Bill will be a first step to doing that.”