The petition of residents of Birmingham, Selly Oak Constituency,
Declares that the Employment Rights Act 1996 only provides for a ‘reasonable amount of unpaid time off’ to care for dependents for one-off appointments and emergencies; notes that latest figures show that there are an estimated 5 million people juggling paid work and unpaid care; further that Carers UK research reveals that 2.6 million have quit their job to care for a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill with nearly half a million (468,000) leaving their job in the last two years alone; further that the estimated costs to the economy of carers being forced to give up work to care had reached £5.3 billion in lost tax revenues, earnings and additional benefit payments.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to introduce a statutory entitlement to paid care leave of 5 to 10 days per year.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Steve McCabe, Official Report, 10 June 2020; Vol. 677, c. 364.]
Observations from the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully):
The Government recognise the vital role that carers play within their families and communities and their contribution both to individuals they care for and to society at large is of great importance now and under normal circumstances.
The Government are committed to supporting carers in a way that supports their own health and wellbeing in the longer term.
Work is ongoing to investigate the impact of care on work, including the issue of carers relying on annual leave. For example, we run the annual Family Resources Survey which gives us an insight into the situation of informal carers and the people they care for. The most recent results of this survey are published online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-resources-survey--2#latest-release.
Government officials regularly meet with carer representative organisations. We know that many carers experience considerable challenges, balancing employment with their caring responsibilities. That is why, as set out in our manifesto and the Queen’s Speech, the Government are considering the introduction of a new employment right to one week of additional leave for unpaid carers. The consultation on this new employment right closed on 2 August and received over 800 responses—demonstrating the importance of this issue. We are analysing those responses and will issue the Government response in due course, setting out the way forward.
The Government are also considering other steps to reform employment law, which it is hoped could make the situations of carers a little easier in future.
The ability to work flexibly can be particularly helpful to carers and other groups in the labour market. All employees who have worked for more than 26 weeks with their employer can already request flexible working under the existing statutory right. We are keen to do more to make flexible working the norm. The Government have set out that, subject to further consultation, we will look to introduce measures to make flexible working the default.
We are actively monitoring the impact of covid-19 on the labour market and will continue to monitor this moving forward, considering whether there are any disproportionate impacts occurring to individual groups, which can include carers, across the labour market.