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Time off for dependants: First consideration of dependants' leave entitlement

This report relates to 1 case(s)

Key points

In Qua v John Ford Morrison Solicitors [2003] IRLR 184, the EAT holds:

  • The statutory right to take a "reasonable amount of time off" to care for dependants is a right that applies during working hours to enable employees to deal with the variety of specified unexpected or sudden events affecting their dependants, and in order to make any "necessary" longer-term arrangements for their care.
  • Where, as in this case, that time off is taken "to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill", the right does not enable the employee to take time off in order to provide that care personally, beyond the reasonable amount necessary to enable him or her to deal with the immediate crisis.
  • In determining whether action is "necessary", a tribunal should consider factors such as the nature of the incident, the closeness of the dependancy relationship, and the availability of anyone else to help out in the situation.
  • What amounts to a "reasonable" amount of time off is to be determined by reference mainly to the individual circumstances of the employee. Generally, no more than a few hours - at most, one or two days - would be regarded as reasonable.
  • The business or operational needs of the employer are not relevant for the purposes of making this assessment, and employees do not need to report to employers on a daily basis when absence continues for more than one day.