Giving time off for dependants can be a tricky area for employers, especially as it is not a legal requirement to pay employees for this right.

We’ve highlighted the key points below to consider when giving employee time off for dependants.

  • Unless an employer is willing to give paid time off under the terms and conditions of an employment contract, employee time off for dependants is unpaid.
  • The right to a reasonable amount of time off normally implies a day or two, however this will depend on individual circumstances.
  • It’s important to remember that the right to time off is to deal with emergencies involving a dependant.
  • A dependant is defined by someone who depends on an employee for care or help (more details below).
Employee time off for dependants – what exactly is a dependant?

A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child parent, or someone who depends on an employee for care – for example an elderly neighbour or family member.

The following are examples (but not exclusive) and can be taken for employee time off for dependants:

  • Deal with a breakdown in childcare
  • Put in place long term care for children or elderly relatives
  • If a dependant falls ill or is taken into hospital
  • To arrange or attend a funeral.

All employees have the right to time off during working hours for dependants. However it is important to remember that this time off is intended to deal with unforeseen matters and emergencies. Furthermore, there is no legal right to be paid – it fully depends on the employer and whether there is a contractual right under the terms and conditions of employment.

The right is to a reasonable amount of time off, although it is not stated how much is reasonable. In most cases a day or two will be sufficient to deal with the immediate crisis, but again it will depend on the individual circumstances. The employee must tell the employer as soon as possible the reason for the absence and how long they expect to be absent. This might seem obvious, but it is an important measure for both the employee and the employer to ensure that they are both aware of the circumstances.


Do you have a staff issue regarding employee time off for dependants? Aspire Cambridge can help you deal with your HR issues on-site, remotely or in an advisory capacity. Please call 01223 855441 for more information.