Taking time off in an emergency

You’re allowed to take time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including someone you care for.

This is known as time off for dependants and it could be for a spouse, partner, child, grandparent, parent or someone else who depends on you for care. 

It doesn’t matter how long you have worked for your employer, however you are only allowed a reasonable time off to deal with the emergency, for example, when:

  • Someone falls ill or is injured.
  • Care arrangements for someone suddenly break down.
  • You need to make longer-term arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured (but not to provide long-term care yourself).

A reasonable amount of time off is likely to be one or two days in most cases. 

You might not be paid for the time off and you should check with your employer what their policy is.

Taking time off for appointments you know about in advance

Taking time off for dependants does not include taking time off to take the person you care for to appointments you know about in advance, for example hospital appointments. You may have to take annual leave but ask your employer if they have any other types of leave that you could apply to take. If you have to take leave try to give as much notice as possible so your employer can plan for your absence. Make sure that your employer knows why you need to take time off. 

Further information

  • For further information see time off for dependants on the ACAS website for England, Wales and Scotland.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland visit time off for dependants (compassionate leave) on nidirect

Date revised: 28/09/2018