time off for dependants

If you have a family emergency do you have the right to time off? Yes, you can take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off under the Time off for Dependants laws:

In many cases employees now have the right to take time off work to deal with an emergency involving someone who depends on them and we look at the details here.

How much time can I take off?

As long as it takes to deal with the immediate emergency. For example, if your child falls ill you can take enough time off to deal with their initial needs, such as taking them to the doctor and arranging for their care. But you’ll need to make other arrangements if you want to stay off work longer to care for them yourself.

You can take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off, but the legislation places no limits on the time off an employee is entitled to; however in the vast majority of cases this should be no more than a few hours or a day or two (it depends on the nature of the problem), to deal with the immediate crisis. In Cortest v O’Toole the Tribunal found that an employee who took a month off to care for her child, that this amount of time was not covered by the right to time off for dependants.


In addition the Government in 2021 announced a new right to a week’s unpaid Carer’s Leave for employees, which will possibly be introduced in April 2024.  You can read more details here.

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