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The Laws on Dependency Leave for Parents

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 11 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Dependency Children Dependants Family

Dependency leave is time taken off work in order to deal with an emergency involving a dependent.

Who is a dependent?

A dependant is someone who relies on you for care. For example:
  • Your spouse (wife / husband)
  • Your child
  • Your parent
  • Your grand-child
  • Your civil partner

What is an emergency?

An emergency is a serious and unexpected situation requiring immediate action. For example:
  • An injury or illness (e.g. a car accident, or simply an elderly relative falling in their home and requiring A&E medical attention)
  • The sudden worsening of a pre-existing condition
  • A dependant, who is reliant on you to take them to hospital, suddenly goes into labour
  • If childcare arrangements are suddenly disrupted (e.g. your child's nursery closes unexpectedly)
  • If your child is involved in an incident at school (e.g. a playground fight or expulsion from school)

An emergency situation is not something that you know about in advance (e.g. a hospital appointment, or school holidays, or if your childminder tells you a few days before that they cannot look after your child etc).

How much time can I take off?

You are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off to deal with an emergency. The amount of time required will depend upon the nature of the emergency.

Example:

Your child has suddenly come up with chicken pox overnight and so is turned away from nursery. You can take time off to attend a GP (if required) or make alternative child care arrangements. If you then want to take several days off to comfort your child during their recovery, that is no longer an emergency and so your employer may require you to take annual leave or parental leave to cover that additional period.

There is no limit on the number of times per year that you can take dependency leave. However your employer may become concerned and take action if this is becoming a regular occurrence and affecting your ability to carry out your job.

How much will I get paid?

Your employer doesn't have to pay you during dependency leave. (You may therefore choose to take paid holiday if you can't afford to lose pay.) However check your employment contract or employee handbook for your employer's policy on dependency leave pay.

How do you request emergency leave?

If you are dealing with an emergency situation, it is often not possible to let your employer know in advance that you will need time off. However you should let your employer know as soon as possible what is going on and how long you will need off.

If you are dealing with an ongoing situation you should keep your employer updated with your likely time off.

Example:

Your husband is in a serious car accident and his medical condition / whether emergency surgery is required is currently unknown. You might ring your employer from a taxi as you dash to hospital to say you won't be in that day. Once you have seen your husband and the hospital has decided that emergency surgery is required overnight, you should at an appropriate moment again get in touch with your employer to let them know that you won't be able to come in the next day due to still being required at the hospital.

Will taking dependency leave adversely affect my career?

Your employer is not legally allowed to treat you unfairly as a result of you taking dependency leave. For example, they should not refuse you promotion or choose you for redundancy on that basis.

If you feel that your employer is/has treat you unfairly as a result of taking dependency leave, speak to:

Your trade union representative
ACAS - 0300 123 1100
Your local Citizen's Advice Bureau

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[Add a Comment]
Hi I took one day off because of my partner. She gave birth 2 weeks ago and now she has back a severe depression ( she got also depression during pregnancy ) my employer knows about her situation but now they told me i.ll be fired if i can.t sort the things out. Mental health doctor advise me not to leave her alone with the baby at the moment ( after the treatment is kick in again she will be able to stay alone ) what should i do in this situation if they will disssmised me ?
axp23 - 11-Jul-18 @ 9:11 PM
Max - Your Question:
I am the sole carer for my two children and have to collect them from school or care for them when they are unwell. Is my Employer allowed to terminate my contract based on these reasons?

Our Response:
Your employer should allow you to leave to attend to a short term emergency relating to the children. If it occurs frequently and you do not have other back up arrangements, your employer may consider that it is affecting your performance and take action.
LawAndParents - 5-Jul-18 @ 2:36 PM
DanG - Your Question:
I am on paternity leave at present. I have 2 children. My newborn is on neo ward on oxygen as he is struggling to stay saturated. My eldest is a 2.5yr old dependant. Due to newborn not coming home and mother breastfeeding I would have nobody to care for my eldest during the times she must go into hosp to feed newborn. We only got told the newborn would be staying in today and I am supposed to be going back to work in 2 days. As I think it is unreasonable to expect a mother to breast feed and look after a 2yr old on a hospital ward on her own, would this warrant me taking TOFD to look afyer my eldest until baby is out of hosp? ThanksDan

Our Response:
Had you previously booked planned time for the birth. The time off for dependents rules are for short term emergencies but parents are entitled to parental leave for this kind of eventuality....take a look at the governemnt advice here. You should also be entitled to paid paternity leave.
LawAndParents - 5-Jul-18 @ 12:53 PM
I am the sole carer for my two children and have to collect them from school or care for them when they are unwell. Is my Employer allowed to terminate my contract based on these reasons?
Max - 2-Jul-18 @ 1:45 PM
I am on paternity leave at present. I have 2 children. My newborn is on neo ward on oxygen as he is struggling to stay saturated. My eldest is a 2.5yr old dependant. Due to newborn not coming home and mother breastfeeding i would have nobody to care for my eldest during the times she must go into hosp to feed newborn. We only got told the newborn would be staying in today and i am supposed to be going back to work in 2 days. As i think it is unreasonable to expect a mother to breast feed and look after a 2yr old on a hospital ward on her own, would this warrant me taking TOFD to look afyer my eldest until baby is out of hosp? Thanks Dan
DanG - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:25 PM
Can your bossstop you from seeing your poorly 3 year old child in hospital if you dont live with the child due to relationship break up but share parental responsibility
Poodle - 7-Jun-18 @ 6:59 PM
Mag - Your Question:
I have asked my employer for 1 day off a week so I can take my partner to counselling for personal reasons. I do not want to disclose the personal reasons as my partner is not willing to tell everyone that she was raped. I have been told to maybe look at using my leave but feel I will not have enough annual leave days to cover the lengthly process of healing that my partner needs and wants me to support her through.

Our Response:
This is your employer's choice. They may be willing to offer you the extra days as unpaid leave but it's their decision - they're not obliged to do this as regular counselling meet the criteria for dependency leave.
LawAndParents - 5-Jun-18 @ 3:06 PM
I have asked my employer for 1 day off a week so I can take my partner to counselling for personal reasons. I do not want to disclose the personal reasons as my partner is not willing to tell everyone that she was raped. I have been told to maybe look at using my leave but feel I will not have enough annual leave days to cover the lengthly process of healing that my partner needs and wants me to support her through.
Mag - 4-Jun-18 @ 8:45 PM
Nicci - Your Question:
Hi I was off with the flu but within that time my daughter fell ill and was admittied to hospital. She had to have a major operation so we where in hospital for 7 days. I was told that there was no such thing as dependence leave and was told to take 6 days leave and 6 days sick. When this was brought up in a meeting I was Informed that this was incorrect and I should get my sick pay back that was took off me. I sent an email to have this looked into and now they are saying that dependence leave is unpaid. Is this correct.

Our Response:
Yes dependence leave doesn't have to be paid and is not normally given by employers for a period as long as 7 days. If you were already off sick, you should still have been paid statutory sick pay for the period of sickness.
LawAndParents - 30-May-18 @ 11:41 AM
I have worked for my current employer for 9 months and my son is going in for an operation on a Friday. I usually work all weekend but have requested to take the weekend off to look after my son. My manager has said she can give me the Saturday but not the Sunday. My son won’t be recovered by the Sunday and I don’t feel comfortable leaving him. Because I’ve not worked here a year I’m not entitled to parental leave what am I entitled to as it’s not an emergency? The operation coincides with Eid and other colleagues have requested this time off for that but I don’t feel comfortable working 2 days after his operation. Do I have any rights?
Toddlermum94 - 30-May-18 @ 10:05 AM
Cc - Your Question:
Hi, I messaged the other day about taking dependency leave unpaid however after a 2nd meeting with my manager he has advised me that I can not take this as my child was just ill and was not a life or death situation. I had 1day off due to her being ill and he has put this down as sickness and advised me that this will go against my sickness. What would be my next step? He has spoken With our HR and they have said he is doing the right thing. I did say it’s my right but in his words I am demanding to take it unpaid so he said holiday or make time up but then agreed unpaid against my sickness. Thank you

Our Response:
Do you have alternative child care arrangements for times when you child is sick?
LawAndParents - 29-May-18 @ 12:53 PM
Can my employees stop me going home to look after my 3 years old and 6moth old baby as my partner is looking after her I’ll mother
Leo - 29-May-18 @ 10:01 AM
Hi, I messaged the other day about taking dependency leave unpaid however after a 2nd meeting with my manager he has advised me that I can not take this as my child was just ill and was not a life or death situation. I had 1day off due to her being ill and he has put this down as sickness and advised me that this will go against my sickness. What would be my next step? He has spoken With our HR and they have said he is doing the right thing. I did say it’s my right but in his words I am demanding to take it unpaid so he said holiday or make time up but then agreed unpaid against my sickness. Thank you
Cc - 28-May-18 @ 2:15 PM
Hi I was off with the flu but within that time my daughter fell ill and was admittied to hospital. She had to have a major operation so we where in hospital for 7 days. I was told that there was no such thing as dependence leave and was told to take 6 days leave and 6 days sick. When this was brought up in a meeting I was Informed that this was incorrect and I should get my sick pay back that was took off me. I sent an email to have this looked into and now they are saying that dependence leave is unpaid. Is this correct.
Nicci - 26-May-18 @ 8:38 AM
Poodle - Your Question:
I’m on my final warning at work, but had to take a day off as my child fell unwell, I phoned in to inform my manager before my shift started, can he sack me for it?

Our Response:
It depends on your previous record really. We can't comment without a lot more information.
LawAndParents - 23-May-18 @ 3:49 PM
I’m on my final warning at work, but had to take a day off as my child fell unwell, I phoned in to inform my manager before my shift started, can he sack me for it?
Poodle - 22-May-18 @ 8:31 PM
Cc - Your Question:
Hi, I have had to take emergency leave from work due to my child being ill, I called up to notify my manager and was asked what I wanted to do 1. Make the time up or 2. Take holiday, I did ask is this right as I thought it was unpaid which I was happy to take as unpaid but she advised me no they don’t do unpaid. Is this correct as I have been with the company over 4 years and in the past it has been unpaid. Thank You

Our Response:
No your employer should not ask you to rearrange your hours/make up the time or use annual leave for the initial emergency, but once you've dealt with the emergency (e.g. made arrangements for alternative care, taken your child to A&E etc) you can be asked to use annual leave or make up the time if you require further time off.
LawAndParents - 21-May-18 @ 2:14 PM
Hi, I have had to take emergency leave from work due to my child being ill, I called up to notify my manager and was asked what I wanted to do 1. Make the time up or 2. Take holiday, I did ask is this right as I thought it was unpaid which I was happy to take as unpaid but she advised me no they don’t do unpaid. Is this correct as I have been with the company over 4 years and in the past it has been unpaid. Thank You
Cc - 20-May-18 @ 10:39 AM
smith - Your Question:
Hi I have requested one day of due to nobody to look after child and was asked to amke other arrangements is this legal I should be allowed time of I feel because I am a man they do not allow this

Our Response:
Employees are entitled to (a reasonable amount of) unpaid time off to deal with the emergencies, such as a break down in childcare, but there’s no set amount of time as it depends on the situation. You're generally expected to resolve the situation as soon as possible (i.e use a morning to arrange for your standby/substitute childcare options to be put in place). Time off for dependents' emergencies cannot be taken if you knew about a situation beforehand. For example you wouldn’t be covered if you wanted to take your child to hospital for an appointment, or knew in advance that your childminder wouldn't be around etc. If you want to book annual to leave to cover eventualities like this, it would depend on your employer's policy on taking leave. This applies to all employees both male and female.
LawAndParents - 16-May-18 @ 10:40 AM
Hi I have requested one day of due to nobody to look after child and was asked to amke other arrangements is this legal I should be allowed time of I feel because i am a man they do not allow this
smith - 14-May-18 @ 4:52 PM
NIC - Your Question:
Hi I have worked for biritish gas for 5 years and my little boy is 3 yrs old and has had a operation because off this it affecs him in the long run I have had to take a few days off here an there can they sack me because off this.

Our Response:
Have you taken this from your annual leave entitlement or asked for unpaid leave?
LawAndParents - 19-Mar-18 @ 12:02 PM
hi I have worked for biritish gas for 5 years and my little boy is 3 yrs old and has had a operation because off this it affecs him in the long run I have had to take a few days off here an there can they sack me because off this.
NIC - 16-Mar-18 @ 12:27 PM
Janeb - Your Question:
We received a letter 2 days ago with our child's surgery date (it's in 3 weeks time) My partner applied for annual leave yesterday for 3 days and was declined. so then applied for dependency leave (unpaid is fine) and also been declined! Our 3 year old is going for a serious surgical procedure. Can they refuse?

Our Response:
He should have a right to take parental leave (note, this must be taken in 1 week blocks). It's worth talking to a union rep or ACAS about this.
LawAndParents - 12-Mar-18 @ 3:13 PM
We received a letter 2 days ago with our child's surgery date (it's in 3 weeks time) My partner applied for annual leave yesterday for 3 days and was declined.... so then applied for dependency leave (unpaid is fine) and also been declined! Our 3 year old is going for a serious surgical procedure. Can they refuse?
Janeb - 9-Mar-18 @ 8:59 PM
Jayde459 - Your Question:
Hi My employer has put me down as being off sick when ive had to stay at home with my children when they have been sick. My employer firstly said that if I have anymore time off for my children then I would not be paid which I 100% agreed with and fully understood however my employer has now said that I am now only going to be paid ssp for any further time I have off if I am sick as well as not being paid if my children are ill. I have had about 4 periods of sick for myself in the last two years lasting no longer than 2 days as I am always made to feel akward when returning to work Can you please advise last week due to illness and was pulled up again. I hate being made to feel like I am an unreliable employee just for having children! My contract states that if you are sick for more than 2 weeks in one period then ssp will be paid and this is not the case. Many thanksMany thanks

Our Response:
You haven't really said how many times you've been off with your children so it's difficult for us to comment. In general an employer can decide whether to pay company sick pay or not (depending on contractual details), so your employer can probably say they'll only pay you SSP for further sickness absences. Your employer can make you take unpaid leave for emergency absence due to childcare issues when your children are sick. Please see here for more information
LawAndParents - 20-Feb-18 @ 11:13 AM
Hi My employer has put me down as being off sick when ive had to stay at home with my children when they have been sick. My employer firstly said that if i have anymore time off for my children then i would not be paid which i 100% agreed with and fully understood however my employer has now said that i am now only going to be paid ssp for any further time i have off if i am sick as well as not being paid if my children are ill. I have had about 4 periods of sick for myself in the last two years lasting no longer than 2 days as i am always made to feel akward when returning to work Can you please advise last week due to illness and was pulled up again. I hate being made to feel like i am an unreliable employee just for having children! My contract states that if you are sick for more than 2 weeks in one period then ssp will be paid and this is not the case. Many thanks Many thanks
Jayde459 - 15-Feb-18 @ 4:35 PM
Amanda37 - Your Question:
Hi a few years ago my partner at the time came home in a drunken temper and proceeded to smash the house up before leaving before the police arrived and threatening to come back the next day to finish what he started. I rang work the following morning to explain the situation and that I had to stay home with my children in case he returned as he had keys and I also had to clean the mess. I was given a verbal warning for doing so. Its now on my work record for good. Were they right to do that?

Our Response:
This depends on your employer's policy really. Did you have any holiday/annual leave entitlement to take? Did you offer to take unpaid leave? Are you on a standard employment contract? What's your record for taking time off been like? We can't really comment without much more information.
LawAndParents - 13-Dec-17 @ 2:01 PM
Hi a few years ago my partner at the time came home in a drunken temper and proceeded to smash the house up before leaving before the police arrived and threatening to come back the next day to finish what he started. I rang work the following morning to explain the situation and that I had to stay home with my children in case he returned as he had keys and I also had to clean the mess. I was given a verbal warning for doing so. Its now on my work record for good. Were they right to do that?
Amanda37 - 11-Dec-17 @ 1:17 PM
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
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