Skip to the content
Choose your content
UK NI Scotland Wales
Join us Login Forum Media enquiries
Choose your content
UK NI Scotland Wales

If you’re managing work alongside your caring responsibilities, finding a good balance isn’t always easy and can become quite a juggling act. But taking time off from work when you need to prioritise someone’s caring needs shouldn’t be a source of stress or worry.  We explain your rights as an employee.

Am I entitled to time off in an urgent situation?

Employees* have the legal right to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving someone who relies on you for help (as a dependant).

This could include your spouse, partner, child, parent, or others who depend upon you.

Whether the time off is paid or not is at the discretion of your employer.

*If you are self-employed, on a short-term contract or employed through an agency, your circumstances will be different. We would recommend contacting ACAS on 0300 123 1100 for advice.

 

What is considered as an emergency?

Here are some examples of when you would be granted time off for an emergency:

  • Your usual care arrangements have broken down or been disrupted.
  • You need to deal with the death of a dependant.
  • A dependant falls ill, has been assaulted or has been in an accident.
  • You need to make long-term arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured (but not to provide long-term care yourself).
  • You need to deal with an incident involving a child during school hours.

 

Woman in home office smiling

 

How do I approach my employer about taking time off?

Contact your employer as soon as you can after you are aware there is an urgent need for you to take time out. Be precise about the details where possible.

After a phone call or face-to-face conversation, you may find it helpful to summarise what you have agreed by email. It is a good idea to have a record to avoid any misunderstanding or crossed wires.

If you are worried you could be challenged, it may be useful to look at your organisation’s policy and refer to this in the first instance. You should look on the organisation’s intranet or speak to someone in human resources to obtain a copy.

 

Having problems with taking this time off?

There is professional advice you can seek if you feel that you are being treated unfairly or if your employer is making this difficult for you. Citizens Advice provides good guidance on this, as well as outlining your options for other scenarios where you might need to take time off.

Carer Niki sitting on her sofa

Flexible working videos

Carers Jane, Ally and Niki all describe their experiences of flexible working in our videos series. 

Latest updates

News
Register now for Carers Scotland's Carers Summit
Date announced for Scotland Carers Summit 2023

At the Carers Summit, hear about Scotland's new Carers Strategy, learn about enabling greater independent living through technology, talk about…

Press Release
Dummy image
Landmark Bill gains further support ahead of Report stage in Commons

MPs from many different parties are backing a Private Member’s Bill on Carer’s Leave, which would see millions of unpaid…

Press Release
Dummy image
Carers UK responds to Reimagining Care Commission report

A new report, released by the Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care, calls for a National Care Covenant with three actions…

Press Release
Dummy image
Census 2021 data shows increase in substantial unpaid care in England and Wales

Today the Office for National Statistics has published Census 2021 data about unpaid carers which showed growing intensity of care…

Got a question about caring?

Every day we hear from people who need help with looking after a friend or family member

Become a member for free

Joining Carers UK is free and takes just a few minutes.

Back to top