Legal Article - Employment Law

Time Off Work for Dependants

All employees have the right to take a reasonable period of time off work to deal with emergencies involving a dependant and not to be dismissed or victimised for doing so.

There is no right to be paid.

A dependant can be the spouse, partner, child or parent of the employee, or someone who lives with the employee as part of the family. A person who reasonably relies on the employee to provide assistance or make arrangements will also be considered a dependant in cases of illness, injury or where existing care arrangements break down.

The new right enables employees to deal with an unexpected or sudden problem and make any necessary longer term arrangements in circumstances where:

• A dependant falls ill or has been involved in an accident or assaulted, including where the victim is hurt or distressed rather than injured physically

• A dependant is having a baby
• Care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured need to be made
• A dependant has died; e.g. to make funeral arrangements or to attend a funeral

• There is an unexpected disruption or breakdown in the care arrangements of a dependant; e.g. when a child minder or nurse fails to turn up
• There is an incident involving the employee’s child during school hours; e.g. if the child has been involved in a fight or is being suspended from school.

There is no set limit to the amount of time off which can be taken. In most cases, the amount of leave will be one or two days at the most, but this will depend on individual circumstances, although an employee may be able to take a longer period of leave under other arrangements with the employer.

Employees must tell their employer, as soon as practicable, the reason for their absence and how long they expect to be away from work.
There is no limit on the number of times an employee can be absent from work under this right. However, the right is intended to cover genuine emergencies.


Published: 27 May 2011


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