In what circumstances do the time off for dependants provisions apply to employees with adult dependants?

The time off for dependants provisions apply in relation to employees with adult dependants provided that the dependant in question is:

  • the spouse, civil partner or a parent of the employee;
  • a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than as a tenant, lodger, boarder or employee); or
  • any other person who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance in an emergency situation, including where the usual care arrangements have broken down.

The right is to take reasonable unpaid time off and must be to enable the employee to take the necessary action:

  • to provide assistance if a dependant falls ill, or is injured or assaulted;
  • to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured;
  • in consequence of the death of a dependant; or
  • to deal with the unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of a dependant.

What amounts to "necessary" action and a "reasonable" amount of time off will depend on the circumstances. In the majority of cases, no more than one or two days would be regarded as reasonable to deal with the problem that has arisen.

The right to time off applies only if the employee tells the employer as soon as reasonably practicable of the reason for the absence and how long they expect to be away from work.