Time off for Dependants

By Carol Smith
04 Nov 2019

In this article we explore the different types of time off for dependants can take and how your organisation can manage it.

As this is often a sensitive issue, it’s good business practice to understand how to handle the situation sensitively.


What is time off for dependants?

It refers to employees having time off work to deal with unforeseen circumstances and emergencies involving dependants.


Who is a dependant?

Anyone who depends on the employee for care. It could be a child, a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, or even an elderly neighbour.


Does time off for dependants count as annual leave?

No. You shouldn’t take time off work for dependants from an employee’s annual leave entitlement.


Your employees’ rights

Do your staff members have a right to time off for dependants? Yes. Every member of your team, regardless of their contract type, has the right to this type of leave.

There’s time off work for dependants legislation that outlines this.

Employment law dictates employees can have a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off to deal with the unforeseen circumstances. In practice, this is usually 1-2 days, but there’s no strict time limit.

Time off for dependants is a statutory right so you cannot deny requests.


Unpaid time off for dependants

Legally, you don’t have to pay employees for this type of leave, but may do so. If you do, outline this in the employee’s contract or handbook.


Are there any exceptions?

Yes.  Mainly when the employee knew about a situation beforehand, after all, the whole point is that it has to be unexpected. Staff members don’t have the right to time off work for family and dependants if, for example, they’re attending a pre-booked hospital appointment.

In these circumstances, the employee may have the right to parental leave instead.

For any extended emergency time off for dependants, you may grant them ‘compassionate leave’ instead. This can also be with or without pay, depending on your policy.

You would typically grant compassionate leave when an employee’s loved one dies, suffers a life-threatening injury, contracts a serious illness.

But what counts as an emergency? There are numerous events, such as:

  • Having a baby.
  • Disruption of care arrangements.
  • Child has an incident during school time.

Expert support

If you have any further questions around time off for dependants or compassionate leave, speak to a Croner expert on 0808 145 3380.

About the Author

Carol Smith

Carol joined Croner in 2001 as an Employment Consultant advising a wide range of clients on all aspects of Employment Law and HR practice. She demonstrates particular expertise in complex disciplinary, grievance matters and reorganisation / redundancy.


Carol Smith

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