2.2.5 Who is a primary carer for PLP?
PLP is designed to provide birth mothers who have been in the work force with the opportunity to take time off work to care for their newborn child and to recover following the birth. It also assists parents to take time off work to care for a recently adopted child or to care for a child in some exceptional circumstances. A claimant must be the child's primary carer (1.1.P.230) to be entitled to receive PLP.
The primary carer is the person who most meets the child's needs, including feeding, dressing, bathing and otherwise supervising the child in an age-appropriate manner, during the relevant reference period (1.1.R.20). For a baby particularly, this role normally requires intensive physical involvement on an ongoing basis.
It is possible for the child to be placed in the temporary care of another individual or organisation, e.g. child care or with relatives, on a temporary basis, without the claimant losing their entitlement to PLP. However, the ordinary pattern of care should involve care being provided by the claimant. The child's care cannot be delegated to another, e.g. child care, for more than a proportion of the time necessary for respite of the carer or other reasonable purposes, such that the primary carer still provides the majority of the child's care. Care arrangements for the child should not involve regular provision of care for a substantial part of the time by someone other than the primary carer.
The PPL Rules prescribe conditions where a primary, secondary or tertiary claimant remains eligible for PLP although they are temporarily unable to care for the child (1.1.T.50) or where they have lost care of the child (1.1.L.30) without their consent. The PPL Rules also prescribe conditions where a secondary or tertiary claimant primary carer remains eligible for PLP if they work while care arrangements are being settled.
Where the child is older, (i.e. adoption cases) a more age-consistent primary carer role is appropriate, including being the contact for pre-schools and schools, collecting and transporting the child, making medical and other necessary appointments, etc. The primary carer need not be physically caring for the child when the child is attending school or other social or educational outings to remain the primary carer of the child, provided the primary carer still meets the child's needs more than anyone else.