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Carer leave

A case for an extended unpaid carer leave entitlement?
Inquiry report

Released 15 / 09 / 2023

This report looks at the potential economic and social impacts of adding an entitlement to extended unpaid carer leave to the National Employment Standards.

The report finds that such an entitlement would help some informal carers of older people to balance the expectations and demands of paid work and care. However, the number of carers who would benefit would be small and the net benefits to the community would be modest at best.

An entitlement to extended unpaid carer leave is also not the highest priority for most carers (and it will be unsuitable or inaccessible for many). Other policies – especially better access to flexible work – would make a bigger difference for more carers.


  • Preliminaries: Cover, Copyright and publication detail, Transmittal letter, Terms of reference, Contents, and Acknowledgements
  • Executive summary
  • Findings and recommendations
  • 1. Background to this inquiry
    • What we were asked to do
  • 2. Informal care of older people
    • What do we know about informal carers of older people?
    • The care and support provided by informal carers
    • Providing care affects many aspects of carers’ lives
  • 3. Employment standards relevant to balancing work and care
    • Use of workplace entitlements to balance work and care
    • Are leave entitlements for employees with caring responsibilities adequate?
    • Most carers want more flexible working arrangements
  • 4. Our approach to entitlement design and assessment
    • What objectives might an entitlement seek to achieve?
  • 5. Entitlement design choices
    • Leave duration
    • Notice periods
    • Accessing the leave
    • Establishing an entitlement
  • 6. Assessing the potential effects of an entitlement
    • How many employees would use an entitlement?
    • Impacts on employees
    • Impacts on care recipients
    • Impacts on employers
    • Impacts on taxpayers
    • The long-run costs are unlikely to be evenly shared across the economy
    • Overall impact
  • 7. An extended unpaid leave entitlement for other carers?
  • 8. How else could carers of older people be supported?
    • Wellbeing support
    • Financial support
    • Access to formal care
    • Easier access to flexible work
    • Supporting carers to take a break from paid work
    • Supporting carers’ return to the workplace
    • A whole-of-government approach to supporting carers
  • A. Public consultation
  • B. Carer leave arrangements in other countries
    • B.1 How prevalent are carer leave entitlements?
    • B.2 Why are carer leave entitlements being adopted?
    • B.3 The uptake of carer leave entitlements
    • B.4 How else are working carers supported?
    • B.5 What carer leave entitlements are available?
  • C. Workplace arrangements to support informal carers
    • C.1 The history of carer leave entitlements in Australia
    • C.2 Evaluating changes to the right to request flexible working arrangements
  • D. Effects of the entitlement on work and care
    • D.1 How many people would use the entitlement?
    • D.2 The expected effects on paid work
    • D.3 What about the effects on informal care?
  • E. Costs and benefits of an entitlement
    • E.1 Costs and benefits to employees
    • E.2 Costs and benefits to care recipients
    • E.3 Costs and benefits to employers
    • E.4 Fiscal effects (costs and benefits to taxpayers)
    • E.5 Total costs and benefits
  • F. Distributional impacts of an entitlement
    • F.1 An entitlement could have long run effects on sections of the workforce
    • F.2 An unpaid leave entitlement could fill particular gaps
  • G. Other supports for informal carers
    • G.1 Informal carers have diverse experiences and needs
    • G.2 Supporting carers’ wellbeing
    • G.3 Making income support accessible to carers
    • G.4 Improving the availability of quality formal care
    • G.5 Improving access to respite care
  • References

Printed copies

Printed copies of this report can be purchased from Canprint Communications.

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