Childcare / Time off for Dependants

Within most companies, childcare and time off for dependants is a hot topic which requires consideration.

From day one of employment, all employees have the right to time off for dependants* to deal with unforeseen issues and emergencies.
However, the length of time that an employee can take off is dependent on the company’s specific policies and whether it is considered reasonable for the individual incident that has occurred.

As an example, a parent may be phoned by a childcare provider because a child is ill. The parent may need to arrange a Dr’s appointment or go home and look after the child.

As this is an unexpected event, it seems reasonable to allow the time off. Whether the Manager allows any further time off is down to an individual company.

Another example may be that a child has a planned hospital appointment in two weeks’ time. This would not usually be considered acceptable to take time off because it is not an emergency or unforeseen. The employee could book the time as a holiday day.

To Pay or not to Pay?

Whether or not the time off should be paid is another question that Managers and Human Resources are frequently asked.

The simple answer is ‘No’ as there is no automatic right to be paid when taking time off for dependants. However, Employers should consult their Contracts of employment / policies to check what has been agreed. If there is nothing written regarding these matters, then the leave would usually be unpaid.

Exceptional and unusual circumstances always arise when it comes to dependants. Employers should be flexible / considerate to each individual situation although it is key to be mindful about setting a precedent for the future.

Lastly, it is key to remember that time off for dependants is a statutory right for all employees and it is unlawful for an employer to subject its employees to any detriment for taking it.

*A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, parent, or someone else who depends on the employee.