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Time Off for Family and dependants

Many employers are confused about the law relating to time off for family and dependants.

Employees are allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant - this could be a

  • Spouse,

  • Partner

  • Child/grandchild

  • Parent

  • Partner

Your employees are allowed reasonable time off to deal with the emergency, but there is no set amount of time as it depends on the situation.

  • No limit on how long or how many,

  • Can be paid or unpaid – depends on the employment contract

If the employee knew about the situation beforehand, i.e. a hospital appointment, this isn’t an emergency. Parents may be able to get parental leave if it’s for their child.

What is an emergency?

Illness, injury or assault – mental or physical. It could be an existing condition that has worsened.

You could get time off if:

  • a child minder or carer doesn’t turn up to look after a dependant

  • a nursing home or nursery closes unexpectedly

You could get time off if your child has been:

  • involved in a fight

  • injured on a school trip

  • suspended from school

Your employer must not:

  • treat you unfairly for taking time off, for example refusing you training or promotion

  • dismiss you or choose you for redundancy because you asked for time off for a dependant

  • refuse you reasonable time off

Employees can take this matter to an employment tribunal if the matter isn’t dealt with fairly. If in doubt about this or any other employment matter you should contact Nichola Coulthard on 07946541606 or email

Coulthard Human Resources helping businesses become amazing employers

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