In Theresa May’s penultimate Prime Minister’s Questions, Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham Selly Oak) urged her and her successor to keep the Tory election promise on introducing a statutory leave entitlement for carers.
In her response, the Prime Minister said she had every expectation that her successor will keep their promise and take this forward.
Theresa May promised in the Tory 2017 Election Manifesto she would introduce a statutory entitlement to short term paid leave. The Government say they have set up an Action Group to consider this but it appears little or no progress has been made.
Steve McCabe MP has been calling on the government to implement the recommendations from Carers UK to provide carers with the right to 5-10 days of paid carers leave a year and has launched a Parliamentary Petition to get government action on this issue.
The only existing statutory rights for workers are the right to time off for dependants as part of the Employment Rights Act 1996. However, this only provides for a ‘reasonable amount of unpaid time off’ and is generally only used for one-off appointments and emergencies. While employees with 26 weeks continuous service also have a right to request flexible working, they only have the right to make the request and employers can refuse. Longer-term leave for carers of several weeks or even months is increasingly common internationally, having been introduced in Spain, Canada, Ireland and the USA.
The Work and Pensions Select Committee, of which Steve is a member, recommended in their report published in May 2018 that there is a strong case for introducing 5 days statutory paid care leave. The Government response said they were exploring the case for statutory carer’s leave.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“It is within Theresa May’s power to deliver on her promise for carers but this was a manifesto pledge and if for whatever reasons she’s failed to deliver, it is incumbent on her successor to make good on it. This is a test of the honesty and decency of the Tories generally and her successor in particular.
“Our Social Care system is in crisis and we simply would not cope if it wasn’t for the millions of carers across the country propping up the system. The least we can do is introduce the statutory leave entitlement which carers were promised. I’ll be making sure that the next PM doesn’t duck his obligations.”