Employees have the right to take a reasonable period of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, and not to be dismissed or victimised for doing so.
The right enables employees to deal with an unexpected or sudden problem, and make any necessary longer-term arrangements.
Section 57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) states that an employee is entitled to be permitted by their employer to take a reasonable amount of time off during the employee’s working hours in order to take action which is necessary:
- to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted,
- to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured,
- in consequence of the death of a dependant,
- because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant, or
- to deal with an incident which involves a child of the employee and which occurs unexpectedly in a period during which an educational establishment which the child attends is responsible for them.
The employee must tell their employer as soon as is reasonably practical and, except where that cannot be complied with until after the employee has returned to work, tell their employer for how long they expect to be absent.
A dependant is:
- a spouse or civil partner,
- a child,
- a parent,
- a person who lives in the same household as the employee, otherwise than by reason of being their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder.
There is no right to be paid for the time taken off work. The law does not set a limit on the number of times the right can be used, or on the amount of time that can be taken off work.
An employee can make a complaint to an employment tribunal that their employer has unreasonably refused to permit them to take time off as required by section 57A ERA.
The Act is here (legislation.gov.uk):
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