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TIME OFF FOR DEPENDANTS
The EC Parental Leave Directive contains a right to time off to deal with family emergencies. The Employment Relations Act 1999 insert new Ss.57A and 57B into the ER Act 1996 incorporating this right into domestic law. Unlike many of the other time-off rights contained in the ER Act 1996, there is no requirement under Ss.57A and 57B for the time off to be paid.
The right provides that an employee is entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off during the employee's working hours in order to take action which is necessary:
to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted; to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured;
in consequence of the death of a dependant; because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant; to deal with an incident, which involves a child of the employee and which occurs unexpectedly in a period during which an educational establishment, which the child attends, is responsible for him or her.
An employee is entitled, in the case of such unforeseen emergencies concerning one of his or her dependants, to take such reasonable time off which is necessary to deal with the emergency ("Emergency Time Off").
The employee must notify the employer as soon as possible of his or her requirement for Emergency Time Off, and give a full explanation of the emergency and its expected duration.
Employees are not entitled to be paid for Emergency Time Off except at the employer's absolute discretion.
The right to Emergency Time Off is to allow employees to deal with an emergency concerning one of his or her dependants, for example making alternative care arrangements for dependants. If an employee is aware that he or she will need time off, this will not be regarded as an emergency and should be taken as annual leave in the normal way and not as Emergency Time Off. Emergency Time Off generally will be for limited periods not exceeding one to two days, to allow employees to deal with the immediate emergency and make necessary longer term arrangements.
The Emergency Time Off is to deal with an emergency concerning a dependant. A dependant for these purposes is:
someone who lives with the employee as part of the family (i.e. not a lodger, boarder, tenant or employee); or in the case of ill-health or where care arrangements break down, it may include someone who reasonably relies on the employee.
A dependant may also include any person who reasonable relies on the employee for assistance on an occasion when the person falls ill or is injured or assaulted, or to make arrangements for the provision of care in the event of illness or injury. Furthermore, a dependant may include any person who reasonably relies on the employee to make arrangements for the provision of care. A reference to illness or injury includes a reference to mental illness or injury.
Emergency Time Off may be appropriate in the following examples: providing assistance if a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted; or making arrangements for the care of a dependant who is ill or injured or where care arrangements are disrupted or terminated; or if a dependant dies; or dealing with an incident involving a child at school.
PROTECTION AGAINST DETRIMENT AND DISMISSAL
An employee is entitled not to be subjected to a detriment because he or she took time off work. It will also be automatically unfair to dismiss an employee for taking time off work.