Time off for family and dependants

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Your rights

As an employee you’re allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone who depends on you for care.

How much you get

You’re allowed a reasonable amount of time off to deal with the emergency, but there’s no set amount of time as it depends on the situation.


If your child falls ill you could take time off to go to the doctor and make care arrangements. Your employer may then ask you to take annual leave or parental leave if you want to look after your child for longer.

Tell your employer as soon as possible how much time you’ll need so it can be agreed.

Limits on time off

There are no limits on how many times you can take time off for dependants. Your employer may want to talk to you if they think time off is affecting your work.


Your employer may pay you for time off to look after dependants but they do not have to. Check your contract, company handbook or intranet site to see if there are rules about this.


You cannot have time off if you knew about a situation beforehand. For example you would not be covered if you wanted to take your child to hospital for an appointment. You might get parental leave instead.

Check your employment status to see if you’re classed as an ‘employee’.

Compassionate leave

If you are not given time off for dependants, your employer may allow you ‘compassionate leave’ - this can be paid or unpaid leave for emergency situations. Check your employment contract, company handbook or intranet for details about compassionate leave.