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Time off in emergencies

Employees have the right to take a 'reasonable' amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.


This information applies to people living in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


All employees have the legal right to take a 'reasonable' amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. This could include your husband, wife or partner, child or partner or someone living with you as part of your family. Others who rely on you for help in an emergency may also qualify. Whether the time off is paid or not is at the discretion of your employer.

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Note: For a summary of the statutory rights in work which may be of interest to you as a carer download our factsheet 'Your rights in work'. If you are self-employed, on a short-term contract or employed through an agency, you may not be covered by these rights. If this is the case for you, contact, ACAS on 0300 123 1100 for advice.


Some examples of emergency situations

  • A disruption or breakdown in care arrangements
  • To deal with the death of a dependant
  • If a dependant falls ill, has been assaulted or in an accident
  • To make long-term arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured (but not to provide long-term care yourself).
  • To deal wth an incident involving a child during school hours
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Who counts as a dependant?

A dependant includes your husband, wife or partner, child or parent, or someone living with you as part of your family. Others who rely on you for help in an emergency may also qualify.

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How do I use this right?

To use this right to time off, employees must inform their employer as soon as possible after the emergency has happened.

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