Time off for dependants

Stephen SimpsonEditor's message: Time off for dependants is designed to deal with the immediate aftermath of an unexpected or sudden problem involving a dependant.

Under this right, employees can take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off during working hours to take necessary action to deal with an emergency involving the dependant. This includes taking a limited period of time off (sometimes a few hours and unlikely to be more than a day or two) to provide assistance when a dependant (such as an elderly parent) falls ill or is injured, or to deal with an incident that involves their child and occurs unexpectedly while the child is at school.

Employers need to make clear to line managers and employees the difference between this type of leave and the separate right to carer's leave, which is intended to be used for planned and foreseen caring commitments. Assuming that the employee is also eligible to take carer's leave - remembering that carer's leave is not designed to cover general childcare responsibilities, unless the child has a long-term care need - it may be possible for the employee to switch after one or two days from time off for dependants to carer's leave.

Stephen Simpson, principal employment law editor

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