Can the noble Viscount assure me that guidance will suggest flexibility about taking a minimal amount of leave of, say, the two weeks that I propose? Can he also give me an assurance about what he will do to ensure that public sector employers follow the guidance? Will he write to other departments and ask them to ensure that they and those they influence, such as agencies, councils, schools and hospitals, also follow the guidance?

I worry about a small minority of employers who will not follow guidance. There are rogue employers and rogue managers who are either so pressured that they have lost their compassion or never had it in the first place. They also need to comply with any guidance. That is why I want the Minister to agree to take these powers to consult and come back with regulations to ensure that we can all have reasonable time off after the death of a child as a right.

Your Lordships may ask: why would the Government not want to take those powers? Would it be unpopular? As I said in Committee, there is public support. An opinion poll in the autumn found that, when asked whether there should be a national guaranteed minimum entitlement to bereavement leave for a close family member, 70.8% agreed. “Ah, but would it not be an unpopular burden on business?”, you may ask. Yesterday, I met the CBI to discuss this narrow measure about bereavement leave for parents. It was a positive meeting. Although the CBI is concerned to get the scope and structure right, it is happy to engage in that debate on the back of the amendment and can see the in-principle case to do so. It does not oppose it in principle. So business would not complain if the Minister accepted the amendment and then consulted on what form the secondary legislation should take.

Finally, I must raise one other issue that I would be grateful if the Minister would raise with his DWP colleagues. I have talked about time off work following a bereavement, but not everyone who suffers the loss of a child is in work. Will the Minister please also consider those on benefits? Can he ensure that in that circumstance there is compassionate leave from the conditionality attached to benefit, where you have to be actively looking for work?

Lucy also said to me today that when Jack died, there was a period when his bedroom was really important as a part of grieving—to have his place, his things, his smell. Both of us have been asked to get a reassurance that housing benefit will not be cut in those circumstances because of the application of the bedroom tax.

To conclude, this is our case. No one speaks against it, and there is public support, no business opposition and an overwhelming moral, compassionate case. People get 12 months or more following a birth, three days following a death. That cannot be right, and I plead with the Minister at this late hour to put his prepared notes to one side and take the time between now and Third Reading to talk to the CBI and others to see whether taking those powers to regulate in future on top of guidance is now the right thing to do.

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Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, I am glad of the opportunity to return to this important issue on Report. The noble Lord, Lord Knight of Weymouth, has spoken passionately about this matter at Second Reading, in Grand Committee and again this evening. I have been deeply moved and saddened by the distressing accounts that I have heard of employees not receiving the support from their employers that they needed at such a difficult time. We have heard more tragic examples this evening from the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, and the noble Lord, Lord Knight.

Losing a loved one is always a difficult experience. Losing a child must cause a grief that is beyond words. It is of course right that employees are able and feel comfortable to take time off to grieve in those awful circumstances. Grief is extremely personal, and everybody copes with the challenges that it brings in different ways. Individual employers are best placed to respond to the varied needs of grieving employees in a sensitive and appropriate way. Fortunately, as has been pointed out this evening, many employers are understanding and compassionate, enabling individuals to take all the time off that they need when they need it. However, as I acknowledged during Grand Committee, this is sadly not always the case.

At present, there is very little advice and support available to employers to help them to develop company policies or approaches to time off for bereaved employees. This lack of advice can mean that employers, particularly small employers who have no experience of bereavement in the workplace, are confronted with a situation that they do not know how to deal with. As a result, they may inadvertently fail to give their employees the compassion and support that they need at what is, we can all agree, a particularly vulnerable time.

The Government are committed to ensuring that employers have access to the right advice and information to facilitate good employment relationships with all their employees. When this issue was debated during Grand Committee, I gave a commitment that the Government would bring forward comprehensive guidance to support employers in meeting the needs of bereaved employees in the workplace. I am pleased to be able to announce today that ACAS has agreed to draw on its wealth of experience in workplace relations to develop guidance that will support employers in delivering their approach to bereavement. It is, of course, essential that we harness the knowledge and experience of expert organisations to get this guidance right so that it can support employers and employees in the most effective way. For this reason, ACAS will work in close partnership with Cruse, the leading national charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and other expert organisations during the development and refinement of the guidance. The first round-table meeting with these organisations is scheduled for as soon as 5 February.

ACAS intends to road-test the draft guidance in a series of seminars with employers around the regions to ensure that the guidance is relevant and adds value. We expect the guidance to be published this summer and I encourage noble Lords who are in touch with organisations that have experience of these issues, and who would like to be involved in reviewing the draft

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guidance, to get in touch with my officials. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Knight, and I had conversations about this last week. This guidance will be comprehensive, covering the existing statutory entitlement to time off for dependants as well as providing advice and support about what is best practice in this area. It is essential that employers, as well as employees, are aware of the statutory provisions that are available. This will be made clear in the guidance.

As I mentioned, I recently met the noble Lord, Lord Knight, to discuss the Government’s approach to this issue and to understand better whether there is additional support that we could offer. I felt that we had a very productive discussion, during which he brought to my attention the fact that many of the parents who had reported being treated unsympathetically by their employers were, in fact, employed in the public sector. Since then, my department has made contact with employer groups in this sector, including NHS Employers and those in Civil Service employee policy, as the noble Lord, Lord Knight, will be pleased to hear. We plan to work with them to develop and find ways of promoting the best practice guidance that ACAS will produce. We also intend to work with business stakeholders such as the CBI and the CIPD to ensure that this guidance reaches businesses and to encourage them to review their company policies accordingly.

Bereavement is a particularly sensitive issue and to be comprehensive, this guidance will need to cover a broad range of issues and situations. I am confident that the guidance produced by ACAS will be of excellent quality. I hope that this is some reassurance to the noble Lord, Lord Knight, and the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth. It is, however, essential that we keep the effectiveness of guidance and how it is being applied in the workplace under review. This is what the Government fully intend to do. I understand the sentiment behind this amendment, and I believe that it is important that all individuals are able to take time off to grieve when they suffer the loss of a loved one. However, I think that a flexible and sensitive approach, tailored to the needs of individual employees, is what is needed at such a difficult time. It is not feasible to legislate to accommodate the vastly different needs of individuals, which are often the result of different personal circumstances, family relationships and religious observations. For this reason I believe that guidance, combined with working with our key partners to encourage employers to adopt best practice in their workplaces, is the best approach.

The noble Lord, Lord Knight, raised a number of questions and I will endeavour to write to him with answers, including the question that he raised on the linkage with the DWP. In the mean time, I hope that noble Lords are reassured by these commitments and will agree to withdraw their amendment.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, I believe we are deeply reassured and very grateful to the Minister. I am only sorry that I was not able to take part in the earlier discussions. As he knows, there were clashes with other discussions about other parts of the children Bill at which I had to be present. I have been in close touch with the noble Lord, Lord Knight. We are very

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reassured, indeed grateful, that this matter has moved at such speed. I am just grateful that I will be able to take back the news to the families I work with that something will happen and that we will not hear such tragic stories about families receiving no compassion at some of the most difficult times of their lives. I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 63AZA withdrawn.

Amendment 63AZB had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Amendment 63AZC (in substitution for Amendment 63AZB)

Moved by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

63AZC: After Clause 113, insert the following new Clause—

“Review of care leave

The Secretary of State must, within the scheduled review of parental leave, make arrangements—

(a) to conduct research into the current labour market outcomes of carers, and

(b) assess the need for further types of leave arrangements for employees in the United Kingdom, in addition to those that currently exist, with a view to helping families combine care for a disabled child or adult with work, and

(c) for a report on the outcome to be produced and published.”

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: My Lords, in moving Amendment 63AZC, I return to this question because, when we debated it in Grand Committee, it was rather lost in the important debate on kinship care. The amendment does not ask for very much. It does not require the Government to introduce leave for workers with caring responsibilities for a disabled, ill or frail loved one; it simply calls for a review of the need for such arrangements. As Carers UK argues in a recent report making the case for carers’ leave:

“The evidence base for supporting working carers is growing, and it is compelling”.

More than 3 million people combine working with unpaid care for a loved one and the numbers are predicted to grow as the population ages. The danger is that, without the safety valve of a right to a few days’ leave a year, carers will either reduce their hours or give up paid work altogether. A Carers UK survey found that two in five carers who had already done so were around £10,000 to £20,000 a year worse off. The public expenditure cost of carers giving up paid work is estimated at £1.3 billion a year. A strong business case has also been made. As the task and finish group set up by Employers for Carers and the Department of Health states in its final report, that

“the issue of supporting carers to remain in work is not only a problem, but also an economic opportunity. Supporting carers to remain in work can bring considerable benefits to carers themselves, employers and the wider economy”.

In Grand Committee, the Minister referred to the existing right to request flexible working and to time off for emergencies. But these existing provisions, helpful as they are, do not cover the kind of situation that this amendment is designed to address. This is not about

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emergencies as such but for more everyday situations, such as taking someone to a medical appointment or looking after them on discharge from hospital or during chemotherapy. The leave also needs to be paid, if it is to be of real help. At present, all too often carers use up annual leave, which they probably need more than most. A combination of the stresses created by combining care and paid work and no holiday leave could be one burden too many.

Cross-national evidence shows that care leave in various forms is becoming increasingly common elsewhere. I will spare noble Lords the examples, given the lateness of the hour, but will simply say that we are in danger of becoming a laggard if we refuse even to start investigating the case for such leave.

In Grand Committee, I quoted from a moving statement made by Mr Christopher Jeffery, whose wife was told she was shirking when she took agreed time off to collect him from hospital. She ended up having a breakdown because of the total lack of support she received and Mr Jeffery told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Carers that it made him feel like a burden to her. I applaud Mr Jeffery’s determination to campaign on behalf of carers generally to ensure they have a right to take time off and not be treated in the way that his wife was.

I also said that I believe we are at the beginning of the road of a campaign whose time has come. Common sense, the business case, social justice and plain compassion and human decency are all on its side. Moreover, so is public opinion. Nine out of 10 respondents to a Carers UK/YouGov survey last year supported a right to a short period of time off work to care.

I hope that the Minister will be able to take this modest amendment away and tidy it up in order to bring it back as a government amendment at Third Reading, or even simply give a commitment on the record to instigate such a review without delay. I say without delay because the amendment links the review with the one that we have already been promised into parental leave, but there is no reason why it should wait until that review is undertaken. The Minister has already helpfully committed the Government to a more immediate study of the labour market attachment of kinship and friendship carers of children. I am simply asking for a parallel study of carers’ labour market attachment and of the options available to support it through some form of leave provision.

For all the reasons that I have given, there is a degree of urgency about this. The Government have an opportunity here to take the credit for having opened the door to the implementation of carers’ leave. This Bill, together with the Care Bill, already marks an important step forward for carers’ rights. Let us now build on that and make it a real turning point. I beg to move.


Baroness Pitkeathley (Lab): My Lords, as the clock reads midnight, I will say very little in support of my noble friend’s excellent moving of this, as she says, modest amendment, except to say that going without any time off for possibly years on end may push carers to breaking point. When their leave runs out or they

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feel that they cannot cope any more, many employees feel that they have no choice but to give up work altogether. As one parent carer wrote:

“My current manager is very supportive within the leave/time off rules, but I have still struggled in the last 12 months, my leave has been used on reactive odd days/half days due to medical appointments & supporting my daughter’s condition & I only have a few days left for the next few months of my leave year so I worry that I will not have enough time & will be forced to give up work”.

A statutory entitlement to care leave would help many carers juggle their caring responsibilities with work in a sustainable and manageable way, making them more productive and less stressed, and saving businesses and the economy money in the long run.

It is a source of personal disappointment to me that, as my noble friend said, we are falling behind in international comparisons, given that carers in the UK have always been at the forefront. We have always been leaders in the recognition of carers, and successive Governments can take credit for that. It would be a great pity if we fell behind in this and did not keep up with international colleagues such as Australia, Belgium, Germany and Japan, which are all putting carers’ leave in place. I very much hope that the Minister will be able to agree to this amendment.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield: My Lords, very briefly indeed, I lend my support to this amendment. As the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, said when she moved it so eloquently, it is a modest amendment, asking for a review in this very important area.

I do not intend to detain the House any longer—other than to say that from 2017 the number of older and disabled people needing long-term care is predicted to outstrip the number of family members able to provide it. Given that, with an ageing population, we are expecting people to work for longer, they are also going to find themselves trying to care for longer, with more family members and loved ones with more, increasingly complex, long-term conditions. Against this backdrop, it is essential that we have the review that this amendment talks about and see what more we can do to help people who are trying to face the challenge of both working longer and caring longer.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, very briefly, I thought that both my noble friends made very coherent arguments in favour of this and raised some very important issues. We heard yesterday from the noble Lord, Lord Nash, that he was going to do some more work on parent carers, so obviously some of these issues around carers are already going to come back at Third Reading. There will be ongoing discussions around those issues and I therefore urge the Minister, perhaps in the context of those discussions, to widen it out a little more and consider the issues that have been raised in this amendment at the same time, so that we can bring all these issues back at Third Reading and have a full debate at that stage. I hope that he will consider that seriously.

Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, I appreciated the interesting and moving speeches by the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Pitkeathley, and the

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brief intervention by my noble friend Lady Tyler focusing on the challenges that parents of disabled children and carers of disabled adults face in balancing their care responsibilities with their working lives.

Being a carer can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. The Government recognise that caring for an individual with a disability can be both physically and emotionally draining. Flexible and supportive working arrangements can make a significant difference to a carer’s life by ensuring that work does not add to the carer’s stress levels. This is why it is important that carers are able to adjust the way they work to allow them to stay in work, because work can be important for a carer’s well-being and income and for maintaining social contacts. As a nation, we cannot afford to lose the talent and skills of carers from the workplace. The Government recognise that caring for disabled people can be a sudden change for an individual. It may be challenging and take a great deal of commitment from an individual to deliver the care and support that is needed.

I reassure noble Lords that my department regularly collects and reviews data on carers to ensure that we are providing the right framework to allow them to participate and thrive in the labour market. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills conducts the workplace employment relations survey and the work-life balance series of surveys which look at the effectiveness of labour market participation policies, such as the right to request flexible working, in supporting carers. The Office for National Statistics also uses the census to analyse carers’ labour market experiences.

These surveys and the evidence they provide informed the recent report on carers from the cross-government task and finish group on carers. This report highlighted the importance of flexible working and recommended that government should continue to promote the benefits of flexible working to employers. All the recommendations of this report have been accepted and are currently being implemented. An additional duty on government to conduct this research and review the provisions for carers is unnecessary because this work is already under way and government regularly collects and reviews this information.

The Government’s approach is to create a fair, flexible and efficient labour market which supports and encourages participation from all. The strategy for carers is to ensure that we create the right framework to allow them to balance their work and caring responsibilities. Clause 113 requires the Government to review the effectiveness of the right to request flexible working against the policy objectives. Supporting carers to remain in work is a key objective of the policy, and I can confirm that this review will include assessing the effectiveness of the right to request flexible working in supporting carers to participate in the labour market.

I understand the noble Baronesses’ intentions behind this amendment, and I hope I have reassured them that the Government are acting to support carers of disabled children and adults to remain in work and are continually reviewing this support to ensure that it meets the needs of carers.

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Just before I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment, I wish to change the tone slightly by stating that we have almost reached the end of Report, and on behalf of my noble friend Lord Nash, I will take this opportunity to thank everyone who has spoken today and during earlier sessions on Report. We have had many thoughtful, well informed and constructive debates on a very broad range of issues, and I have welcomed the thorough approach that noble Lords have taken to scrutinising each part of this wide-ranging Bill. I hope that we can address the very few outstanding issues. I also thank the Bill team and all the officials who have supported me, my noble friend Lord Nash and colleagues across different departments for their work.

In the mean time, I ask the noble Baroness, Lady Lister of Burtersett, to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend and to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for speaking in support of this amendment at this extremely late hour. I am grateful to the Minister. I thought he made a rather compelling case for my amendment when he spoke about the importance of supporting carers. He talked about enabling them to participate and thrive, but the trouble is that the present situation does not enable them to participate and thrive. I was ultimately very disappointed by the Minister’s response because it is not about simply collecting statistics, but about having a formal, structured review of the case that other countries have now accepted. Therefore I will, of course, withdraw the amendment, but I suspect that it will not be the last amendment which tries to make this case; we will table such an amendment to any legislation that offers the opportunity to do so. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 63AZC withdrawn.

Clause 114: Orders and regulations

Amendments 63AA and 63B

Moved by Lord Nash

63AA: Clause 114, page 121, line 35, at end insert—

“( ) regulations under section (Application of Part to detained persons)(3),”

63B: Clause 114, page 121, line 36, after “55(1),” insert—

“(ba) regulations under subsection (6), (8), (9) or (10) of section (Regulation of retail packaging etc of tobacco products),

(bb) regulations under subsection (11) of that section which amend, repeal or revoke any provision of an enactment within the meaning of that section,”

Amendments 63AA and 63B agreed.

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Clause 118: Commencement

Amendments 64 to 65

Moved by Lord Nash

64: Clause 118, page 123, line 2, at end insert—

“(1A) Section (Contact between prescribed persons and adopted person’s relatives)—

(a) so far as it relates to England, comes into force on such day as the Secretary of State appoints by order, and

(b) so far as it relates to Wales, comes into force on such day as the Welsh Ministers appoint by order.”

64ZA: Clause 118, page 123, line 5, after “82,” insert “(Application of suspension etc powers to establishments and agencies in England),”

64A: Clause 118, page 123, line 5, leave out “and 84” and insert “, 84 and (Extension of licensing of child performances to children under 14)”

64B: Clause 118, page 123, line 6, at end insert—

“( ) Part 6 comes into force on 1 April 2014.”

65: Clause 118, page 123, line 9, after “subsection” insert “(1A),”

Amendments 64 to 65 agreed.

Amendment 65A had been renumbered as Amendment 64A.

Clause 119: Short title and extent

Amendments 65B and 65C

Moved by Lord Nash

65B: Clause 119, page 123, line 18, at end insert—

“(3A) Section (Regulation of retail packaging etc of tobacco products) extends to the whole of the United Kingdom.”

65C: Clause 119, page 123, line 24, at end insert “, subject to subsection (8).

(8) Subsection (7) does not apply to the repeal made by section (Extension of licensing of child performances to children under 14), which extends to England and Wales only.”

Amendments 65B and 65C agreed.

In the Title

Amendment 66

Moved by Lord Nash

66: In the Title, line 2, after “needs” insert “or disabilities”

Amendment 66 agreed.

House adjourned at 12.10 am.