Time Off For Dependents

The time off for dependents legislation entitles all employees to take a reasonable amount of time off work for a variety of sudden or unexpected events that affect someone who is dependent on the individual and therefore makes the immediate presence of the individual indispensable.

All periods of leave approved under this right to take time off for dependents are unpaid.

Advance notice is not required, neither is there a requirement for a qualifying period of employment.

Who are Dependents?

A dependent is any person who lives in the same house as the employee but who is not their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder. This therefore covers the employee’s partner, including non-married and same sex partners, children, including step-children and grand-children, other family relatives, including parents, grand-parents, aunts and uncles and friends who live together.

What Circumstance Are Covered?

The circumstances in which time off work may be taken include:

  • To provide assistance on an occasion when a dependent falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted
  • To make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependent who is ill or injured
  • In consequence of the death of a dependent
  • Because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependent
  • To deal with an incident involving a child of the employee which occurs unexpectedly in a period during which an educational establishment is responsible for the child

A reasonable amount of time away from work should be allowed for leave. Reasonable is not defined in the regulations as it is assumed that the amount of time required will depend on the individual circumstances. It may be that only a few hours are required to make arrangements for an alternative carer whilst other incidents may require a little longer. In most cases one or two days should be sufficient to deal with the immediate crisis. Holiday entitlement may be used to extend the period of time approved under this right if the one or two days is not sufficient to deal with the situation.

In circumstances where some advance notice is given, even if only a day, then annual holiday entitlement or, in situations where a child is involved, parental leave may be used instead of this right. Holiday and/or parental leave, in situations where a child is involved, may also be used to extend the period of time approved under this right if the one or two days is not sufficient to deal with the situation.

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Time Off For Dependents


Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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