Governments in the Channel Islands urged to follow UK by offering carers unpaid leave

  • ITV Channel's Roisin Gauson speaks to one carer in Guernsey to hear about her experience

Up to 6,000 people in Guernsey could benefit from unpaid carer leave if the Channel Islands follows the UK in introducing a new scheme.

The British Government now allows carers five days of unpaid leave each year after many compared their lifestyle to having two full-time jobs.

One islander in Guernsey who cares for her mother says if officials there followed suit, it would relieve stress: "It would be very good, I think as carers you can plan it well.

"There are times when you need a day off because my mum is not well, or she has appointments and so we need time off for that.

"When I leave work, it's almost like my second shift until bedtime.

"Without that, we've got no care. Without that, there's a waiting list and we wouldn't be able to work.

"My mother can't live on her own, so potentially she could be in a home. And I know she doesn't want that, so we're able to make it work like this, for now."

The UK scheme came into effect on Saturday 6 April 2024, helping carers manage their responsibilities outside of work, such as caring for someone who has a disability, needs elderly care or has a long-term illness lasting more than three months.

Peter Harwood, Chair of Carers Guernsey says voluntary carers are vital in saving the island money: "Close to £30 million would be the cost to the States of Guernsey if it had to provide all of the care and that's why I'd like to see them lead by example and not wait for statute, just go ahead an introduce this benefit."

Politicians across the Channel Islands have differing views on how to move forward.

Lyndsay Feltham, Jersey's Social Security Minister, says: "I'd be keen to look at carers leave, together with where we fall with statutory sick leave and other areas where we may well be falling behind."

However, Deputy Linsday de Sausmarez, Vice President of Guernsey's Employment and Social Security Committee, says: "The Committee hasn't discussed the idea previously, and whilst I am sympathetic to it, it cannot be investigated in this Assembly as it's not one of the approved workstreams under the GWP."

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