Carer’s Leave Act 2001
The Carer’s Leave Act allows all employees who have at least 12 months of continuous service to leave their employment temporarily in order to care fulltime for persons requiring it for an unpaid duration spanning 13 – 104 weeks. Employees may be entitled to Carer’s Benefit from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs.
Further to that, the Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provisions) (Amendment) (No 8) (Carers and Homemakers) Regulations 2006 states that employees on carer’s leave can be self-employed or work outside the home for at most 15 hours per week.
During the duration of the leave, the carers would have their jobs held open for them. The Carer’s Leave affects only the right to receive pay, holiday and pension benefits. All other rights of the employee are not affected. For employees to be entitled to this leave, the following is required:
- A medical assessment that states that the person needing care and for home the leave is taken for does require full time attention and care.
- In situations where the employee doesn’t reside with the care recipient, there should be a direct means of communication between the employee’s residence and that of the care recipient. Also, an employee applying for a Carer’s Leave doesn’t need to be related to the care recipient in order to qualify for the leave.
- Not more than one employee can be granted a Carer’s Leave at the same time to care for the same patient. The only exception is in cases where 2 care recipients live together.
- An employer cannot dismiss an employee for exercising their right to a Carer’s Leave.
- Carer’s Leave may be taken in a block of up to 104 weeks or in smaller periods as long as it does not exceed an aggregate of 104 weeks.
Procedures and Enforcement
In situations where there is a dispute about Carer’s Leave, the employee or employer can refer this dispute to a Rights Commissioner. If the dispute is related to the medical assessments, it can be referred to Deciding Officers and/or Appeal Officers of the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs.
The Rights Commissioner can order such redress for the aggrieved party at his own discretion. He can also grant the Carer’s Leave of a specified length to be taken at specified times and can award compensation to the employee, payable by the employer. However, compensation cannot exceed 26 weeks remuneration or both.