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Taking time off in an emergency

If you’re a parent or carer, you can take time off work in an emergency to look after a child or someone else who depends on you for support.

About time off work in an emergency

If you work for an employer you have the right to take unpaid time off work to deal with an unexpected event involving a dependant. Your employer cannot penalise you for taking the time off as long as your reasons are genuine, but they don’t have to pay you for the time you take off.

Who counts as a dependant?

The definition is very broad. It could be your husband, wife or partner, child or parent, or someone living with you who isn't a tenant, lodger boarder or your employeeas part of your family. Others who rely on you for help in an emergency may also qualify, like an older neighbour.

How much time can you take off?

The amount of time you can take by law is only described as “a reasonable amount”. In some cases this is only a couple of days.

Other rights

You should also check if your employment contract allows for other help with taking time off, beyond what is set by law.

How do you apply?

There is no set way to do this. You must simply let your employer know the reason you need to take time off from work and for how long you expect to be away (unless it isn’t possible for you to know how long you will be away until you return).  You should also keep your employer updated on what is happening and make arrangements to come back to work as soon as you can.

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