Editor's message: With UK schools closing on 20 March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and elderly relatives being at particular risk of becoming ill, employers may find that they receive an increase in the number of requests for time off for dependants.
Employees have a statutory right to take a reasonable period of time off for dependants, that would apply where a parent is taken ill. However, the employer does not have to allow employees extended periods of this type of leave. And although employers do not have to pay employees for time off for dependants, it would be good practice to pay the employee during their time off for dependants in the current extraordinary circumstances.
Sheila Attwood, managing editor, pay and HR practice
Updated to reflect that the Coronavirus Act received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020, which includes provisions for emergency volunteering leave for workers.
Updated to flag up that this policy may see an increase in use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
We set out some possible scenarios related to absence and attendance that HR professionals may face during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, and explain how they could tackle them. Additional scenarios (added on 19 March) now cover an employee being unable to work because their child's school has closed or an elderly relative has fallen ill, and an employee due to return to work has been stranded abroad.
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.
Definition from the XpertHR glossary.
Line manager briefing explaining the right to take time off for dependants and guiding line managers on dealing with employees who take time off under this right.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to time off for dependants.