Law guide: Employment

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Carer's leave and contractual issues

Carer's leave and contractual issues

Contractual rights to carer's leave

If an employee has a right to take carer's leave in their contract of employment, either the contractual right or the statutory right can be used. The employee can select and take the leave that's more favourable to them.

Terms and conditions during carer's leave

During their leave, an employee has a statutory right to continue to benefit from all the terms and conditions of employment that would have applied to them had they been at work, except for the terms relating to pay.

Examples of contractual terms and conditions that continue during carer's leave include:

  • Gym membership
  • Participation in share schemes
  • Reimbursement of professional subscriptions
  • The use of a company car or mobile phone (unless provided for business use only)

The employee will also be bound by any obligations in those terms and conditions

Continuous employment and carer's leave

Carer's leave counts towards an employee's period of continuous employment, so will not affect the entitlement to other statutory employment rights that require a period of service, e.g. the right to a redundancy payment.

It also counts towards assessing seniority and personal length-of-service payments, such as pay increments, under the contract of employment.

Accrual of annual leave

An employee will not continue to accrue (build-up) their entitlement to statutory annual leave while taking carer's leave.

If taking carer's leave stops them from taking all of their annual leave before the end of the holiday year, this alone won't entitle them to carry that leave over to the next holiday year.

There are no restrictions on taking annual leave immediately before or after carer's leave.

Contributions to a workplace pension scheme

An employer and employee must maintain their contribution to the employee's pension during carer's leave if the pension scheme rules require them to do so, or if it's an obligation in the employee's contract.

If there's no such requirement, they may still make voluntary contributions if the pension scheme rules allow them to do so.

Returning to work from carer's leave

An employee will have the right return to the same job they had immediately before taking carer's leave. They have a right to return with the same seniority and the same pension and certain other rights, and on the same terms and conditions (including remuneration) that were as favourable as they would have been had they had not gone on leave.

They are also entitled to benefit from any general improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions introduced while they were away.

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