Absence from work

Time off to help someone else

By law, anyone classed as an employee has the right to take time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event.

How much time off can be taken for a dependant

The law does not say how much time can be taken off, or how many occasions. It simply says the amount should be 'reasonable'.

It's a good idea if the employer is as flexible as they can be, depending on the employee's circumstances.

Who counts as a dependant

An employee's dependants can include:

  • their spouse, partner or civil partner
  • their child
  • their parent
  • a person who lives in their household (not tenants, lodgers or employees)
  • a person who would rely on them for help in the event of an accident, illness or injury, such as an elderly neighbour
  • a person who relies on them to make care arrangements

When it's appropriate to take time off for a dependant

The employee can take time off if they need to:

  • help a dependant who is ill, injured or assaulted, or gives birth
  • arrange care for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • deal with the death of a dependant
  • deal with an incident involving their child during school hours


Time off for a dependant is unpaid, unless your workplace has a policy that it’s paid.

Employees should check their contract or talk to their employer to find out what they're entitled to.

Extra rights in your workplace

Your workplace might offer employees more entitlements for dependants than the legal minimum, so it’s a good idea to check.