Introduction to this document

Family emergencies absence form

Employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to deal with emergencies involving dependants. The time off is unpaid and is only for as long as is necessary to help the employee to cope with the crisis and make longer-term care arrangements.

Time off for dependants

There is a statutory right for all employees, regardless of length of service, to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with certain unexpected emergencies concerning a dependant and to make any necessary longer-term care arrangements. Like parental leave, this is unpaid. The right covers the following:

 to provide assistance or make arrangements for the provision of longer-term care if a dependant falls ill, is injured or assaulted, or gives birth

 dealing with the consequences of the death of a dependant

 dealing with the consequences of a child being involved in an unexpected incident at school

 where childcare, or other dependant care arrangements, unexpectedly break down.

A “dependant” is a spouse, child, parent or a person living in the employee’s household as part of their family but it doesn’t include tenants or live-in employees. In cases of illness, injury or where care arrangements break down, a dependant may also be someone who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance.

Amount of time off

There is no set limit to the amount of time off which can be taken. In most cases, it will be one or two days at most, but this will depend on individual circumstances. Leave should be enough to help the employee cope with the crisis and to make longer-term care arrangements if necessary.

Our Family Emergencies Absence Form can be used to record absences falling under this statutory provision. The employee must inform you as soon as reasonably practicable of the reason for their absence and how long they are likely to be absent. If an employee knows in advance that time off work will be needed, e.g. a dependant is going into hospital for surgery, then this will fall outside the remit of the statutory provision because it’s not unexpected or unforeseen. In this scenario, you can legitimately require the employee to use their annual leave entitlement to take any time off.