Dependency Leave – what are the rules?

Many businesses are unsure how to deal with unplanned employee absence –  particularly those which are unavoidable, such as in situations where an employee wishes to care for a dependant.

There is a statutory right to time off for dependants. However, the entitlement is to a “reasonable” amount of time off to deal with an emergency situation and make longer term arrangements.

In these circumstances, it is important to establish if the situation amounts to an “emergency”. This may include caring for a child when they fall suddenly ill or where there has been an unexpected interruption to child care arrangements. It will not include a planned appointment with a dependant.

The employer has a responsibility to ascertain how long the employee intends to be away from work.

There is no statutory requirement to pay the employee for the time off.

If the time off requested is not reasonable and or is not an emergency situation some other form of leave could be appropriate, such as time off in lieu, or annual leave.

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