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Time off for dependants and flexible working

All employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with incidents involving a dependant, including emergencies, sickness or breakdown in care arrangements. Some employees with dependants will also have the right to request flexible working hours to care for their dependants. In this article we look at how and when these rights reply.

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All employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with incidents involving dependants, including emergencies, sickness or breakdowns in care arrangements. Some employees with dependants will also have the right to request flexible working hours to care for their dependants. In this article, we look at how and when these rights apply. There is no qualifying period, as an employee qualifies for time off for dependants from day one of commencing employment with an employer. A dependant is defined as a spouse, child, parent or other person (other than a tenant, lodger or employee) who lives in the employee's household. No predetermined maximum is set on the amount of time off which can be taken. However, a maximum of one or two days is usually considered ‘reasonable'. The time taken should be the minimum needed to deal with immediate issues and to make longer-term arrangements, if necessary. Time off for dependants is afforded to an employee to enable him or her: to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant is injured or assaulted, falls ill or gives birth to make care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured to make arrangements following the death of a dependant to deal with the unexpected disruption of arrangements for the care of a dependant to deal with an incident involving the employee's child which occurs unexpectedly while the child is at an educational establishment. To be eligible for dependants' leave, your employee must inform you, as soon as practicable, how long they expect to be absent for and the reason why. They should indicate the nature of the problem and why this will make it difficult to attend work that day, or makes it urgent for them to leave work. Refusing a reasonable request for unpaid time off for dependants could leave you open to a complaint to an employment tribunal. TUC - Trades Union Congress - GuruOnline Interview - Do I have to say yes if a male member of staff asks if he can change his hours to pick up his children from school? TUC - Trades Union Congress - GuruOnline Interview - Do women about to adopt have the same rights as women expecting their own children? TUC - Trades Union Congress - GuruOnline Interview - What can I do if a single parent employee of mine keeps taking time off because their child is unwell? // // // Advice from the TUC on family-friendly rights in the workplace Flexible working Parents of children under the age of 16 or disabled children under the age of 18 have the right to apply to their employer for more flexible working. Flexible working can include compressed hours, working from home, or any pattern of hours other than the standard one in an organisation. Benefits can include increased productivity and savings on recruitment. Employees must meet the following eligibility requirements for having the right to request a flexible working pattern. They will have to: be an employee, not an agency worker have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks on the date they apply for flexible working not have made another statutory request during the past 12 months. They also have to be: the parent, adoptive parent, guardian, foster parent or private foster carer of the child or a person who has been granted a residence order in respect of a child. married to or the partner or civil partner of the child's mother, father, adoptive parent, guardian, foster parent or private foster carer or of a person who has been granted a residence order in respect of a child. The request must be made in writing and you have a duty to consider all requests seriously. However, you can still say no if you have legitimate concerns about the impact flexible working can have on business. Employment law and HR guidance is available in the Forum's practical Employment Guide. For further information, contact the Forum's member helpline on 0845 130 1722.

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