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Acas guidance to support changes from 6th April 2024: Ten things you need to know about carer's leave

Acas has published guidance that provides an overview of the statutory right to carer's leave, which came into force on 6th April 2024. The guidance includes helpful examples of how employees with different working patterns may choose to take leave and a table confirming how much notice should be provided.

Anyone legally classed as an employee can take time off to help a dependant who needs long-term care.

1 When can they take it?

The right to take carer's leave applies from the first day of work.  An employee can take carer's leave to give or arrange care for a dependant who needs long-term care.

2 Who counts as a dependant?

An employee's dependants can include:

  • Their husband, wife, civil partner or partner.

  • Their child.

  • Their parent.

  • A person who lives in their household (not tenants, lodgers or employees).

  • A person who relies on them for care, such as an elderly neighbour.

3 What counts as a long-term care need?

A dependant has a long-term care need if they have any of the following:

  • A disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010.

  • An illness or injury likely to need care for at least three months.

  • A care need related to old age.

4 How can employees use carer's leave?

Examples of when an employee could use carer's leave include:

  • taking their disabled child to a hospital appointment

  • moving their parent, who has dementia, into a care home

  • accompanying a housebound dependant on a day trip

  • providing meals and company for an elderly neighbour while their main carer is away at work for the day.

5 How much time someone can take?

Employees can take up to one week of carer's leave every 12 months.

They can choose to take leave as:

  • Half days – this is the minimum they can take.

  • Full days

  • A whole week

An employee is entitled to leave equal to the length of their usual working week.  So, if someone works three days a week, they can take three days' carer's leave.

6 Do you have to pay them?

You might choose to pay your employees for this type of leave, but you do not have to.

7 How much notice must they give you?

Employees must give their employer notice before the start of their leave.

The minimum notice they must give will depend on how many days of leave they want to take.

Minimum notice requirements

Number of days requested

Minimum notice required

Half a day to 1 day

3 days' notice

1.5 to 2 days

4 days' notice

2.5 to 3 days

6 days' notice

3.5 to 4 days

8 days' notice

4.5 to 5 days

10 days' notice

6 days (if an employee works 6 days a week)

12 days' notice


An employee does not have to: 

  • put their request for leave in writing

  • give their employer evidence of their dependant's care needs.

8          Can you refuse it?

Employers cannot refuse someone's request for carer's leave.  But they can ask them to take it at a different time if the employee's absence would cause serious disruption.

If the employer needs to delay the leave, they must:

  • agree on another date within one month of the date the employee wishes to use.

  • explain in writing why they need to delay the leave within seven days of the request or before the leave starts, whichever is earlier.

If the employee needs to cancel their request for carer's leave, they should do this as soon as possible.

9          Can carers use alternative types of leave?

Employees could use:

10        What are employees' rights if they take carer's leave?

Employees are entitled:

  • to return to the same job

  • to keep all the same terms and conditions – for example, they would still accrue holiday and get any benefits like staff discounts.

It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss someone or cause them detriment because of something related to carer's leave.

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