Family leave for kinship carers: letter to UK Government

Letter from the Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise to the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Business and Trade calling for family leave for kinship carers. 

To: Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP
From: Natalie Don MSP

Dear Gillian and Kemi,

I am writing to you both given your respective duties for kinship care and employment law. On 9 November 2023 I attended a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee to discuss the issue of kinship care. During the meeting, the lack of provision for family leave for kinship carers, which is reserved to the UK Government, was discussed. It was also previously discussed with the Committee in June 2022 when my predecessor, Clare Haughey, gave evidence regarding kinship care.

Since the meeting, the Department for Education published the new “Championing kinship care: national kinship care strategy”, as well as the accompanied “Kinship carers in the workplace: guidance for employers” material. I welcome the publication of this guidance and the clarity that it will provide kinship carers with regarding statutory leave entitlements they may be eligible to access, and the signposting of initiatives that employers could implement to support kinship carers in the workplace.

Nevertheless, I am disappointed that family leave for kinship carers remains entirely dependent on the good will of the employer to ensure kinship carers, whose circumstances often change without notice, are given paid time off work to help the children they care for adjust to their new environment.

Kinship carers have advised my officials that because there is no statutory leave, which is offered to other carers such as adoptive parents, some kinship carers have been forced to leave employment. Some, who were fortunate enough to own their homes, have also been forced to sell their house to make ends meet, forcing them into poverty. This is unacceptable.

The Scottish Government wants to ensure kinship carers are not penalised for taking in their kin. Given the vital role they play in providing a loving, safe and stable home, I believe it is imperative that kinship carers are treated on an equal par with all parents eligible for parental leave.

As you know, this issue was highlighted in the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, published in May 2022, which recommended that kinship carers receive paid employment leave on a par with statutory adoption leave.
Kinship carers should not have to wait any longer as a result of delays from the UK Government. I would, therefore, ask for an urgent update on the implementation of the recommendation regarding statutory leave in relation to kinship carers, and call on you to make these changes immediately.

I am copying this letter to the Convener of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee in the Scottish Parliament for information.

Natalie Don MSP

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