Under what circumstances are employees allowed time off work?

Employees (and, in some situations, other workers) have the legal right to be permitted paid or unpaid time off work for various designated purposes. For example, employees must be allowed to take a reasonable amount of paid time off work to enable them to carry out their functions as a trade union official, employee representative, member of a European Works Council or special negotiating body, safety representative, or pension scheme trustee.

Employees who are Justices of the Peace or who are officials or members of certain public bodies have the right to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to carry out their functions.

Trade union members are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to carry out trade union activities. Employees who are trade union learning representatives are entitled to a reasonable amount of paid time off to analyse learning or training needs, arrange learning or training, or promote the value of learning or training to trade union members. A worker who agrees to act as a companion at a colleague's disciplinary or grievance hearing must also be granted paid time off for that purpose.

Employees under notice of redundancy have the right to paid time off to look for new work or arrange retraining.

Parents (and adoptive parents) have the qualified right to take up to 18 weeks' unpaid ordinary parental leave. Further, employees with dependants have the right to take unpaid time off to deal with an unexpected situation, such as where a dependant falls ill.

Pregnant employees are entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. An employee who is the partner of a pregnant woman, or the expected child's father, can take unpaid time off to accompany the woman to two antenatal appointments. Where an employee is adopting, he or she is entitled to paid time off to attend adoption appointments before the adoption takes place. Where he or she is adopting a child jointly with a partner, the time off will be paid for one of them and unpaid for the other.