Festival of Learning: Dependant Care Leave Did You Know?

As part of our festival of learning series in which we shine a spotlight on different areas of employment law, we take a quick look at some fast facts about dependent care leave.

  1. What is dependent care leave?

Dependent care leave is a statutory right which entitles employees to take time off work to deal with certain emergencies involving their dependants. There is no minimum length of service required for an employee to exercise this right.

  1. When can it be taken?

Employees can take a reasonable amount of dependent care leave where it is necessary to:

  • Provide assistance when a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted;
  • Make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • Take action required in consequence of the death of a dependant;
  • Deal with the unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of a dependant (such as a nursery closure); and/or
  • Deal with an unexpected incident involving their child while at school or another educational establishment which is responsible for them.
  1. Who is a dependent?

For the purposes of taking dependent care leave, a dependant is defined as:

  • The employee’s spouse, civil partner, parent or child;
  • A person who lives in the same household as the employee, but who is not their tenant, lodger, boarder or employee.

In addition, for the purposes of time off:

  • To provide assistance if a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted or to arrange for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured the definition of dependant includes those who reasonably rely on the employee for such assistance or arrangements;
  • For the purposes of time off because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant the definition of dependant includes those who reasonably rely on the employee to make arrangements for the provision of care.
  1. Does an employee need to inform their employer they are taking dependent care leave?

Employees should tell their employer the reason for their absence as soon as is reasonably practicable and inform them of how long they expect to be absent from work. Due to the emergency nature of dependent care leave, advance notice such as with other forms of family friendly leave is not required.

  1. How much time off can be taken?

Reasonable time off in relation to a particular problem will not normally be more than one or two days. However, each set of circumstances will need to be considered on their facts.

  1. Is dependent care leave paid?

Employees don’t have a statutory right to pay if they take dependant care leave. However, employees can have a right to be paid under their contract of employment or through custom and practice in their workplace so it’s always important for employers to check what the position is regarding pay for dependent care leave in their organisation.

  1. Can an employee be dismissed for taking dependent care leave if it is causing disruption to the business?

Whilst there can be occasions where accommodating dependent care leave may be difficult for employers, it’s important to remember that employees are protected from being dismissed in connection with this right. Such dismissals are automatically unfair and there is no minimum length of service required for an employee to make such a complaint to an employment tribunal. It should also be born in mind that employees are equally protected from being subjected to detrimental action other than dismissal, such as being disciplined in relation to dependent care leave.

If you have any questions regarding dependent care leave or you would like assistance with any employment law matter, please don’t hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are here to help.

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