Carer’s leave

A policy for the situations in which a member of staff can take leave to support the care of another, with broad and detailed definitions of what constitutes care and who the policy can apply to. Also includes legal framework.


  1. Legal Framework
  2. Policy


This section should detail the rules regarding carers’ responsibility for ”vulnerable adults”, elderly/infirm/sick parents, sick/disabled partners, and sick/disabled adult children. This could be if a person becomes sick unexpectedly or has known chronic condition.

Employees have a right to take time off work to deal with an unexpected or sudden problem and make any necessary longer-term arrangements. For example, if a child falls ill, the leave should be enough to help the employee cope with the crisis – to deal with the immediate care of the child, visiting the doctor if necessary, and to make longer term care arrangements. It does not mean that the employee may take two weeks leave to look after a sick child.

Employees, including those on a fixed term contract, have a right to take reasonable time off work to deal with domestic emergencies involving dependants.

A dependant is defined as a partner, child or parent of the employee, or someone who lives with the employee as part of their family. It does not include tenants or someone who lives with the employee as an employee, for example, an au-pair

In cases of illness, injury or where care arrangements break down, a dependant may also be someone who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance. This may be where the employee is the primary carer or is the only person who can help in an emergency.

There is no right for this leave to be paid

Domestic problems not covered are those that do not include dependants for example a broken down car or boiler

The amount of time allowed to be taken is not specified but it is expected to be one or two days, the expectation is that longer periods of leave should be covered by annual leave or other contractual leave entitlements

An employer who thinks that an employee is abusing the right to time off should deal with the situation according to its normal disciplinary procedures.

If employees know in advance that they are going to need time off, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take this time as part of their annual leave entitlement. If they need to take off because of their child, they may be entitled to take parental leave.

Employees who think that they have been unreasonably refused time off, or victimised for taking it, may make a complaint to an employment tribunal against their employer. Complaints must normally be made within three months of the date when the time off was refused or the victimisation took place.

Notice should be given of absence as soon as possible

There is no qualifying period.

If a dependant falls ill or has been involved in an accident or an assault, including where the victim is hurt or distressed rather than injured physically; when a partner is having a baby; to make longer term care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured; to deal with the death of a dependant, for example, to make funeral arrangements or to attend a funeral; to deal with an unexpected disruption or breakdown in care arrangements for a dependant, for example, when the childminder or nurse fails to turn up; to deal with an incident involving the employee’s child during school hours, for example, if the child has been involved in a fight or is being suspended from school.


In line with statutory rights employees are entitled to reasonable short-term amounts of leave to be taken where dependants are taken ill or if care arrangements fall through. The need for this leave should be communicated as soon as possible to the MG with the expected date of return. 

In recognition that “dependants” may not always be restricted to blood relative and that social relationships can form important parts of our social fabric and support systems, this leave can be extended to non family members or to less ‘direct’ members of the family where there is a strong emotional tie to the individual concerned or where the employee considers themselves to be in a ‘carer’ role in respect to the ‘dependant’. The length of time needed to be taken off from work can vary according to the complexity of the needs and should be negotiated with the MG to this may be from a day to weeks, where there is a need to take weeks off the MG is urged to discuss the request to ensure a fair and even application of the policy across the organisation.  Short periods of leave would be expected to be paid however longer periods may not be, the exact length of time is at the discretion of the MG.  

The employee may choose to take some time as annual leave as well as emergency leave and/or some unpaid leave of absence if the need for care is prolonged. During a prolonged absence the employee is expected to maintain contact with the MG and particularly to keep them informed about the likely return date. In cases of prolonged period of absence the return process may need to be managed including possibly a re-induction process. The employee might find that returning to work on their previous working pattern is no longer desirable and they have the right to ask for flexible working. Any such request should be given the serious consideration and only be turned down for and the employer must give serious consideration to any such requests. If such requests are turned down reasons must be given in writing. 


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