Time Off For Dependents

You can take time off work to deal with an emergency relating to a dependant or other unexpected event. As well as for your child(ren), this could be for a parent, partner, or someone for whom you have sole care. Your employer can’t penalise you for taking dependants leave as long as your reasons for taking it are genuine. Any leave you take will be unpaid unless your contract of employment says otherwise. You must let your employer know the reasons for your absence as soon as possible and tell them how long you expect to be absent.

Examples of dependants leave are if:

  • Your child is ill and needs your assistance or for you to make arrangements for their care 
  • Your normal care arrangement has broken down e.g. a carer hasn’t turned up.
  • There’s an unexpected incident at school that you need to deal with.

You can’t take dependants leave to deal with a situation that you could have predicted or was planned. You can usually only take time off to deal with the immediate event and to make alternative arrangements. Dependants leave won't cover your providing long term care yourself. For anything like this you’d need to take parental leave, annual leave or other any other available leave.

There’s no set time limit on the amount of time you can take - normally this will only be a day or two - but it must be reasonable in all the circumstances, for example, whether you have a partner or other family members who can help. If you think you need more time or aren’t clear what your rights are you can get specialist advice: 

Contact for Families with Disabled Children: www.contact.org.uk/advice-and-support/your-child-your-family/work-childcare/

ACAS: www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3282

Working Families:


Page last reviewed / updated: February 2021
Next review due: February 2022