Time off work when you care for someone

Last updated: 15/02/2022

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 legally entitled to take ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with a crisis involving them. This is called Time Off for Dependants.

In some circumstances you may also use Time Off for Dependants to take the person you care for to an event, or appointment, that you know of in advance. This might be if it is specifically you who is needed or where there is no one else who can help. This will be at the discretion of your employer.

People who depend on you includes your family or someone living with you as part of your family. It can also include other 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. This 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 can take up to 18 weeks off work to spend time with each child under the age of 18. This is called Parental Leave.

Parental Leave is unpaid but your employer can choose to pay you. Check your contract of employment.

It differs from Time Off for Dependants 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, Child Disability Payment or Personal Independence Payment.

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 of when you want to take it.

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

‘Parental Leave’ is different to ‘Shared Parental Leave’.


For more information on time off work see: Working Families