Introduction to this document

Time off for dependants policy

Employees have a statutory right to unpaid time off work to deal with certain unexpected or sudden events or situations involving a dependant. Our time off for dependants policy statement sets out the employee’s statutory rights in this respect and it makes clear the procedure the employee must follow in relation to exercising their statutory right.

Statutory time off

Under statutory provisions, employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to take necessary action to deal with certain situations involving their dependants. Your employee must inform you of the reason for their absence and how long they expect it to last as soon as reasonably practicable. The statutory right envisages that the amount of time off will be sufficient to enable the employee to cope with the immediate crisis, or to make alternative arrangements for dependant care, but that no more than a day or two should be needed. Unfortunately, there’s no limit on the number of times an employee can be off each year under the statutory right. It’s intended to cover situations such as when a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted or dies, dealing with funeral arrangements for a dependant, making arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured, dealing with an unexpected incident which involves the employee’s child at school and when childcare or dependant care arrangements are unexpectedly disrupted or terminated, for example, the child minder is taken ill. It’s not time off for the employee to provide care themselves, beyond the amount that is necessary in the first instance to cope with the immediate crisis before other longer-term arrangements can be put in place. Nor is it time off for grieving following a dependant’s death. It must also involve a dependant, which is a spouse, civil partner, child, parent or a person living in the same household as the employee (who isn’t a tenant or lodger or someone who lives in the house as an employee). In addition, in cases of illness, injury and assault, arranging for the provision of care or where care arrangements are disrupted or terminated, it may also be someone who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance with their illness, injury or assault or who reasonably relies on them to make arrangements for the provision of care. It certainly doesn’t cover staying at home to let the plumber in to repair the leaky pipes. It’s quite legitimate to ask the employee to provide evidence to support their time off and to complete a form certifying why he or she needed the time off. Our policy statement confirms that dishonestly claiming time off for dependants is a disciplinary offence.