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Emergency leave

Employers are required to provide clear guidelines on the length of special leave for domestic reasons and whether it should be paid or unpaid.

All employees, regardless of service length, have the right to reasonable time off work to deal with emergencies involving a dependant. Payment may be made by local agreement, but the expectation is that relatively short periods of leave for emergencies will be paid.


Circumstances when employees can take time off would normally include:

  • if a dependant falls ill or has been injured or assaulted
  • where a partner is having a baby (although this may be covered by paternity leave arrangements)
  • to make care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • to make funeral arrangements or attend a funeral of a dependant
  • to deal with an unexpected disruption or breakdown in care arrangements for a dependant, e.g. when a childminder fails to turn up
  • to deal with an incident involving the employee's child during school hours, eg if a child has been involved in a fight or suspended from school.

It should be noted that such leave is for 'domestic emergencies' and so it would normally be expected to be for a very short period, probably not in excess of three consecutive days.

The normal expectation is that other arrangements will be made by the employee after this period (which may include granting request for annual leave at short notice).