Time off work when you are a carer

Last updated: 24/01/2020

Time off work to deal with a crisis affecting someone you care for

If you have people who depend on you for care you are entitled to take ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with a crisis involving them. You are also entitled to time off for an event that you know of in advance if it is you specifically who is needed or where there is no one else who can help.

Dependants include your family or someone living with you as part of your family. It can also include people who rely on you for support.

Your employer does not have to pay you for this time off but may do depending on the terms of your contract. Dependants’ leave should not be considered as part of any sick leave you have taken but could lead to disciplinary action against you if it is not considered reasonable or it interferes with your ability to do your job.

Time off work if you have a child under 18

If you have been with your employer for at least a year you are entitled to 18 weeks off work to spend time with each child under the age of 18.

It differs from dependants’ leave in that it is only for your children and does not need to be used in a crisis.

Parental leave is usually taken in one-week blocks but may be taken one day at a time if your employer agrees or your child is entitled to disability living allowance or personal independence payments.

One week equals one of your normal working weeks, so if you only work three days per week you will be entitled to 18 × 3 days per child.

Your employer can insist that you take no more than four weeks per year and that you give 21 days’ notice.

Your employer can postpone your leave but only if they have a valid reason for doing so.

Note: ‘Parental leave’ is different to ‘shared parental leave’.

Get advice

The rules regarding benefit entitlement and how they interact are complicated. If you are awarded employment and support allowance, personal independence payment or carer’s allowance, or your child is awarded disability living allowance, it will have an effect on your other benefit entitlement.

In most cases being awarded a disability benefit will entitle, or passport, you to extra support but in some cases, you may find no change, or a reduction, in what you receive.

For advice, call the Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323.