Time off for dependants
In Henderson v AccountsNet Ltd, the employment tribunal awarded £13,081 to a trainee accountant who was found to have been unfairly dismissed after she left the office to collect her ill child from school.
The employment tribunal held that a mother's six absences totalling seven days in a 12-month period constituted a "reasonable" amount of time off for dependants under s.57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Employees are protected against detriment and dismissal for taking time off for dependants, as the employer in this case found to its cost.
In Royal Bank of Scotland Plc v Harrison EAT/0093/08, the EAT held that a disruption to the employee's childcare arrangements was unexpected. She was, therefore, entitled to take time off for dependants, and had suffered a detriment for a prescribed reason for doing so.
In Cortest Ltd v O'Toole EAT/0470/07, the EAT held that the right to time off for dependants does not extend to one month's leave to care for a child.
In Truelove v Safeway Stores plc, the EAT holds that it is not necessary for a parent or carer faced with an unexpected disruption in arrangements for the care of a dependant, and seeking time off to deal with the emergency, to give reasons to his or her employer with any formality.
In Forster v Cartwright Black, the EAT holds that the statutory right to time off for dependants contained in s.57A(1)(c) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 does not include sickness absence caused by a bereavement.
In Qua v John Ford Morrison Solicitors, the EAT holds that 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.
In MacCulloch & Wallis Ltd v Moore EAT/51/02, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the right to time off for dependants is a right to be permitted a reasonable amount of time off to provide assistance or arrange for the provision of care if a dependant is taken ill or injured. The employee cannot extend that period unless there is clear evidence that further assistance or arrangements are required. Although what constitutes a reasonable amount of time off will vary depending on the circumstances, in most cases only one or two days will be needed to deal with the immediate issue and make any necessary longer-term arrangements.
Employment law cases: HR and legal information and guidance relating to time off for dependants.
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