Time off for Dependants


No one can predict a family emergency. However, if you do need to leave work due to having to care for a dependant you are entitled to do so. A dependant can be a child, spouse, partner, or parent. You are legally entitled to time off in an emergency. The following situations can be classed as an emergency.

  • Where a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted
  • The death of a dependant
  • Unexpected interruption to childcare arrangements, such as a sudden closure of a nursery.

A dependant can be any person who reasonably relies on you for the provision of care, including child, spouse, partner, parent.

You are not necessarily entitled to be paid for the time off. This depends on whether there is a contractual right to time off in your contract of employment. It may be at the employer’s discretion.

The amount of time off needed should be reasonable and depends on the circumstances and the reason for the time off. It also depends on who is being cared for. If it is a young child or baby who is required to stay in the hospital it is only reasonable that a parent would have to stay with them.

If this is a serious issue that is going to lead to a long term absence then compassionate leave should be considered by the employer. Compassionate leave may not necessarily be paid and this will depend on whether there is a term in the contract which gives a right to paid compassionate leave. It may also be at your employer’s discretion whether or not to pay you for any period of compassionate leave.

The majority of carers are likely to be women and any unreasonable conduct during a family emergency could amount to discrimination. For more info on discrimination claims, please visit our page.

How we can help you

At Watermans Solicitors, we understand the pressure and upset that arise when you have to deal with an emergency. We can provide a free legal assessment of any potential claim that you might have. Our employment law specialists can provide a free assessment of your case. Discrimination cases are complex and time limits for pursuing a claim are short. Watermans can assist you in a sympathetic and sensitive manner and make the process as stress-free and straight forward as possible.