The Carer’s Leave Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain has passed its final parliamentary stage on Friday 19 May in the House of Lords. The Bill, which has been described by the charity Carers UK as a ‘landmark’ piece of legislation, has cross-party support and is expected to pass unopposed.
The Bill will give an estimated 2.4 million carers across the UK a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year, helping carers to better balance work and care.
Wendy Chamberlain introduced the Carer’s Leave Bill last June after winning a place in the Private Member’s Bill lottery. It has enjoyed cross-party support and has passed all its parliamentary stages unopposed so far. It will move onto Royal Assent after it passes tomorrow to become law.
Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain said:
Unpaid carers are the backbone of our society. I said that at the beginning of this process almost a year ago, and I believe it even more strongly today. Millions of people care for loved ones, doing everything from day-to-day physical caring, washing, dressing and feeding for those who cannot care for themselves, to things like shopping for a housebound elderly relative.
Yet far too many unpaid carers go without adequate support and struggle to balance caring responsibilities and work. I have met with and heard from carers in North East Fife and across the country, and many have made the difficult decision to leave their jobs because they simply can’t make it work.
As a former young carer myself, I know first hand the difference that this Bill will make to the lives of millions of unpaid carers across the UK. Carers make an enormous difference to our society and I am proud that the Liberal Democrats are the party of carers.
Wendy’s Carer’s Leave Bill is a first step to providing greater support. It will allow carers to take time off work to manage caring responsibilities. We hope that it will provide many people with the flexibility they need.
We are also confident that the law will have benefits for employers too. Many businesses already provide a version of Carer’s Leave to their staff and report reduced recruitment costs, and improved retention and wellbeing.
This Bill is a great reminder of the difference that Liberal Democrats can make. It underscores why we need more Liberal Democrats in Parliament, to make sure that we stand up and champion the causes that matter to people. This is just the start and I hope if elected to make sure that I put my experiences as a young carer at the heart of parliament and fight for further support for all carers.