Home > Parent's Rights > The Laws on Dependency Leave for Parents

The Laws on Dependency Leave for Parents

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 12 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
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There may be times when you, as an employee, need to take time off work to care for a sick relative, such as a child, partner or parent; this is what is referred to as Dependency Leave.

What Constitutes a Need for Dependency Leave?

Dependency Leave is usually taken when there is an emergency. Here are some examples of the type of emergencies for which Dependency Leave will apply:
  • Your child minder is sick and there is no one else to look after your child
  • Your child has had an accident at school
  • Your child is sick and you need to take a day off to look after them
  • Your parent dies
  • Your wife is having a baby

An employer may reasonably expect that in any 12-month period you may have to take off three days or afternoons (depending on their own guidelines) for such emergencies and often try to comply. It may result in time being owed but rarely results in the loss of pay unless the employer has previously agreed this with the employee in question.

How Do I Apply for Dependency Leave?

It is not always possible to give notice for Dependency Leave, but if you can, try to inform your employer. For example, if you know of an impending hospital or doctor’s visit that requires your presence, then you should give your supervisor or manager as much notice as you can in advance.

In most cases, many employees will simply take a day or afternoon off to facilitate such a request, but if the circumstances are of a sudden nature then your employer should accommodate if they can.

Who Qualifies as a Dependant?

Anyone who lives in your household or is under your care is regarded as a dependant. Again it is wise – where possible – to inform your employer of any circumstances at home which may require the need for Dependency Leave at short notice. Your employer will – in accordance with the law and their own guidelines – try to be as understanding as they can, but it is important to remember that Dependency Leave is rationed and is not simply there for using when it feels right.

I Can’t Make It to Work, I Have a Dependant Who Is Sick – What Should I Do?

In accordance with the individual guidelines of every company or business there will be a set of rules laid down as to how to proceed in the case of an emergency or unavoidable absence. Most companies operate a policy of calling in before the beginning of your shift to inform the supervisor or manager as to their inability to attend.

Where possible, speak to your line manager or supervisor rather than leave a message with another member of staff, and try to give an indication as to whether or not you will be returning to work the following day.

For further information on your company’s policies on Dependency Leave, consult your employee handbook or speak to your employer.

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[Add a Comment]
Bignidge - Your Question:
Can my company refuse dependency leave? I asked for 2 days leave at the end of the month due to having no cover because of school holiday and my manager said because half term is not an emergency I can't have it.

Our Response:
Yes your manager can refuse. You can’t have time off if you knew about a situation beforehand.Parental leave can cover some situations like this.Parental leave is unpaid and you’re entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday (with a limit of 4 weeks per year for each child). Parental leave must be take as whole weeks rather than individual days, unless your employer agrees otherwise. Parents must have worked for their employer for at least one year before being eligible for parental leave and must give 21 days notice of any leave they propose taking.
LawAndParents - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:58 PM
Can my company refuse dependency leave? I asked for 2 days leave at the end of the month due to having no cover because of school holiday and my manager said because half term is not an emergency I can't have it.
Bignidge - 12-Oct-17 @ 7:18 PM
Booboo - Your Question:
Are UK company was bought by a Spanish company I assumed this law still applies? My daughter came down with gastroenteritis Thurs so I couldn't go in Friday. Work want me to take as a days holiday, which I don't have much of now as I used holiday when she had chicken pox. Is this Dependency Leave unpaid if I don't take it as holiday? TIA

Our Response:
Yes the law applies to any company operating in the UK. You are allowed a reasonable amount of time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. Your employer doesn't have to pay you for time off for dependants so if you don't take it as annual leave, you cannot expect it to be paid.
LawAndParents - 29-Sep-17 @ 2:59 PM
Are UK company was bought by a Spanish company I assumed this law still applies? My daughter came down with gastroenteritis Thurs so I couldn't go in Friday. Work want me to take as a days holiday, which I don't have much of now as I used holiday when she had chicken pox. Is this Dependency Leave unpaid if I don't take it as holiday? TIA
Booboo - 28-Sep-17 @ 9:24 AM
Kev722 - Your Question:
I had no child care for my 6 year old after school so I informed my boss and asked for half a day which they declined I told them I had no choice and would have to go anyway which I did when I went in the next day they fired me I had not had a single warning before can they do this.

Our Response:
This will depend on your employer's policy really. All employees are entitled to a "reasonable" amount of time to deal with unforeseen matters and emergencies relating to dependents, such as a breakdown in childcare arrangements. If you have already taken time off for similar instances, your employer may have felt it was reasonable to dismiss you. The usual dismissal procedures should have been followed correctly though.
LawAndParents - 25-Jul-17 @ 11:41 AM
I had no child care for my 6 year old after school so I informed my boss and asked for half a day which they declined I told them I had no choice and would have to go anyway which I did when I went in the next day they fired me I had not had a single warning before can they do this.
Kev722 - 18-Jul-17 @ 11:30 AM
My daughter (who is 12) will be having an operation on her ankle in the next couple of months, she will be staying in hospital for 2 - 3 days. She will be in plaster as the operation involves artificial bone being placed in her ankle. I work part time, 20 hours per week. How much time are I entitled to have off unpaid?? Thanks
ShelleyG - 21-Jun-17 @ 12:14 PM
Smurfy - Your Question:
Hi I took 4 days off on 3 occasions in the last 11 months to look after my son as im a single parent due to this I have been given a final written warning. Is this right can my company do this to me??

Our Response:
This depends on the company's absence policy.Have you taken annual leave to cover any of these 4 days? Or is it all the employer's time. Do you have anyone else who can help with childcare such as the father of your son or any grandparents?
LawAndParents - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:38 AM
Acooper123 - Your Question:
Law and parents - your response is completely wrong to the question in this thread. Employees are under no obligation to have a back up plan in place if any situation arises resulting in a break down of child care. Klaus has every right to take a reasonable amount of time off to deal with this emergency and it should be given as a dependency day. I'm an employment lawyer myself.

Our Response:
We think most employers would consider a sick child an emergency but not a sick childminder. Most good childminders will have a stand-in/help for times when they're sick. If your childcare ararngements fail most employers would expect you to take a day's leave or at least reserve the right to ask more questions about it.
LawAndParents - 20-Mar-17 @ 2:05 PM
Hi i took 4 days off on 3 occasions in the last 11 months to look after my son as im a single parent due to this i have been given a final written warning. Is this right can my company do this to me??
Smurfy - 18-Mar-17 @ 12:56 PM
Law and parents - your response is completely wrong to the question in this thread. Employees are under no obligation to have a back up plan in place if any situation arises resulting in a break down of child care. Klaus has every right to take a reasonable amount of time off to deal with this emergency and it should be given as a dependency day. I'm an employment lawyer myself.
Acooper123 - 17-Mar-17 @ 7:27 PM
Klaus - Your Question:
My child minder has just gone sick and I cannot go to work. Not having anybody else to look after my children today I called my employer (British Airways) to give them as much notice as possible because I cannot go to work tomorrow and they have refused to give me a dependency day. Rather they will put me down as a "no show" (I work as Cabin Crew) and then I will have to explain my reasons to my manager. Normally the day will be taken off as unpaid leave. I've just read that my reason constitutes a need for dependency day therefore I wonder whether British Airways is breaking the law.

Our Response:
. As an employee you’re allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. It would not be considered an emergency that your child minder is sick.All childcare users should really have a back up plan. If there is no work cover to allow you to book a day's leave then it's understandable that your employer wants to ask you more about your reasons.
LawAndParents - 22-Feb-17 @ 2:46 PM
My child minder has just gone sick and I cannot go to work. Not having anybody else to look after my children today I called my employer (British Airways) to give them as much notice as possible because I cannot go to work tomorrow and they have refused to give me a dependency day. Rather they will put me down as a "no show" (I work as Cabin Crew) and then I will have to explain my reasons to my manager. Normally the day will be taken off as unpaid leave. I've just read that my reason constitutes a need for dependency day therefore I wonder whether British Airways is breaking the law.
Klaus - 18-Feb-17 @ 6:08 PM
Wooley and Co, where the hell did you get that incorrect info from. Dependency leave is not rationed or limited. There are no limits to the number of times it can be used. Neither can your employer single you out for unfair treatment for taking it. Suggest you get you facts right I future !!!!
Handicap Slasher - 21-Jul-15 @ 6:34 PM
This is without doubt the most misleading and factually incorrect information on dependency leave I have ever read. There are no laws that state that dependency leave must be applied for. There is no limit to the number of dependency days that can be taken. Time taken off work for dependency days does not have to be worked back. Pre-arranged hospital, doctor or dental visits would not qualify as dependency days. Dependency days are for sudden, unexpected situations that occur and involve someone who is dependant on you. You may not be able to forewarn your employer but should do so at the earliest opportunity. Please provide proof that dependency leave is rationed.The law certainly does not state this, and the Employment Rights Act 1996 contadicts most of your information.
Unionman - 25-Jan-13 @ 1:57 AM
My ex and I have been separated for 8 months and have since had a good routine in place with custody of our 2 and half year old son. But recently for personal and bitter reasons she is now refusing my access unless I take her to court.I have been having him three nights a week, two of which the following mornings i take him to nursery and i have always been flexible with access and have accomodated her needs with varying work patterns as she works for the NHS. Is there anything legally stopping me from collecting my son from nursery and withholding him until SHE takes ME to court? This isnt something i wish to do but i simply couldnt bare to not see my son for as long as it takes to get to court. I am on the birth certificate and have always had a good bond with my son, she is withholding him out of pure vengeance and nothing more, i see yhis as spiting the child of a good relationship with his dad. If i was to withhold him from her can the police order me to hand him back to her? And would it have a negative affect on my case in court?
Dozz - 12-Jul-12 @ 12:06 AM
My son has an appointment ( hopefully the last depending on the news ) with a specialist but my work are refusing me time off. They have said I cannot have unpaid leave and my use 1 of my holiday days. All my holiday allowance is either booked in or used already. What can I do? Thanks
Tornado - 24-Nov-11 @ 12:17 PM
I wanted to find out if therean act called Dependance for employyes who children and have requested to take time to look after children. What if you have requested time off to takecare of children and you are refused. what can be done.pls help.
TARA - 18-Oct-11 @ 6:00 PM
I think your facts are wrong, there is no limit on dependency leave & it is not the employers guidelines to follow but the governments. Regards
danch - 29-Jul-11 @ 3:26 PM
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