Time off work for dependants

All employees will have the right to take a reasonable time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. Time off for dependants will be unpaid.

Criteria

Time off for dependants enables employees to deal with unexpected or sudden problems and to make any necessary longer term arrangements. Examples are:

  • If a dependant falls ill or has been involved in an accident or assaulted, including where the victim is hurt or distressed rather than just a physical injury
  • When a partner is having a baby
  • To make longer term care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • To deal with an unexpected disruption or breakdown in care arrangements for a dependant; for example, when a childminder falls ill
  • To deal with an incident involving the employee's child during school hours; for example, if the child has been involved in a fight or is being suspended from school

The council's existing terms and conditions make provisions for Compassionate Leave: Attendance at Funerals of up to 4 days' paid leave in the event of the death of a close family member.

Qualifying dependants

A dependant is a partner, child or parent of an employee, or someone who lives with the employee as part of their family. For example, this could be an elderly aunt or grandparent who lives in the household. It does not include tenants or boarders living in the family home, or someone who lives in the household as an employee.

In cases of illness, injury or where care arrangements break down, a dependant may also be someone who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance. This may be where the employee is the primary carer or is the only person who can help in an emergency.

Time off work allowance

The time off work for dependants will very much depend on the nature of the emergency. However, usually a maximum of two days' unpaid leave will be allowed for an emergency. This will allow time to deal with the immediate emergency and make any longer term arrangements as necessary.

Time off work for dependants does not allow a week's leave to be taken to look after a sick child, for example.

However, in exceptional circumstances, Business Unit Managers have the discretion to extend unpaid time off work for dependants beyond two days.

Taking time off work for dependants

Time off work for dependants enables all employees to take time off from work to deal with emergencies involving a dependant.

If the emergency happens when you are at work you will need to tell your line manager about the emergency, when you will be leaving to deal with it and how long you expect to be away. You will also need to call your manager at the start of each working day (or shift) that you are taking as time off work (where practicable).

If the emergency happens when you are away from work, e.g. in the evening, and you need to take time off work to deal with the emergency, you will need to telephone your line manager at the start of each working day (or shift), where practicable, telling him/her about the emergency and how long you expect to be away.

You should make every effort to tell your line manager when you are taking time off for dependants. However, in exceptional circumstances, and you are unable to telephone, you will need to tell your line manager about the reason for your absence on your return to work.

On your return to work you will be asked to complete and sign a "Time Off Work For Dependants" form confirming the dates of the time off work. Your line manager will counter sign this form and forward it to HR.

Payroll will be instructed to suspend payment for this period.

Problems known in advance

The new right to time off work for dependants is intended to cover unforeseen matters. Unpaid time off work for dependants cannot be taken for matters known about in advance.

If such a matter concerns a child for whom you have parental responsibility you may be able to arrange "parental leave".

Outside of this, normal arrangements for time off can be made, annual leave, flexileave, etc.

Superannuation

Buckinghamshire County Council has confirmed that Regulations 17 (1) "Obligatory Contributions" of the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 1997 requires both the employee and employer to pay normal pension contributions for the first 30 days of unpaid absence. Regulation 18 (1) "Optional Contributions" provides the option to continue to make employee and employer pension contributions for unpaid leave over 30 days.

Pensions deductions will be taken from salary for unpaid time off work for dependants up to 30 days. Employees will be given the option to continue to make pension contributions for unpaid parental leave over 30 days.

Time off work for dependants: a right

If you think that you have been unreasonably refused time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, you should, in the first instance, follow the council's grievance procedure.

However, employees have the right to go to an employment tribunal if the council prevents or attempts to prevent you from taking time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. An employee who takes time off work for dependants will also be protected from victimisation, including dismissal, for taking it.

If you have any questions about the council's Time Off Work for Dependants policy, please contact your designated Directorate HR Officer.