Time off to care for dependants

All employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to take steps necessary because:-

  • A dependant falls ill or gives birth
  • Care arrangements for a dependent are disrupted
  • Something unexpected happens whilst a dependent is at school
  • A dependent dies


A ‘dependent’ includes children, parents, spouses, or someone the employee lives with or cares for.


An employee should ask permission for time off if possible, but these are obviously unexpected, short notice situations and often advance notice will not be possible. However the employee is required to contact her/his employer as soon as possible to explain why s/he is absent and when s/he is likely to return.


Leave is unpaid but an employee exercising this right cannot be dismissed or subjected to any other detriment. It is not uncommon for employees to be disciplined, for example for leaving work early to collect a sick child from school. Provided the employee is only taking a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off s/he should not be penalised.

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