Have you ever been refused or dismissed for requesting Dependant’s Leave?
If you have needed to take time off work in order to provide assistance when a Dependant fell ill, was injured or gave birth, and your request for time off was refused by your employer, you may be able to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Did you know Dependant’s Leave is a statutory right?
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996 employees have a statutory right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with emergencies involving their dependants. This effectively means that time off is granted to take necessary action due to various unexpected or sudden events involving a Dependant. The legislation does not stipulate “a reasonable amount of time” but it is likely that in most cases an employee will not need more than a few hours or, possibly one or two days, at most, to deal with the particular unexpected issue which has arisen involving a Dependant.
Who is a Dependant?
Under the legislation, a Dependant does not only mean a child of the employee but it can also include the employee’s spouse or civil partner, a parent of the employee, a person who lives in the same household as the employee but is not their tenant, lodger, boarder or employee. Therefore, in addition the availability of Dependant’s Leave for employees who need to take time off to arrange a temporary carer for a child or to take a sick child to a relative or friend, time off can extend to other Dependants to deal with an immediate crisis where they have fallen ill unexpectedly. For the “sandwich generation” the right will cover both their children and parents.
Can I bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal?
If you are an employee who has been refused permission to take time off to deal with an emergency involving a Dependant or if you were dismissed from your employment because you took time off or asked to take time off in accordance with your statutory right to do so, you can bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal within the time limit. If the Employment Tribunal finds that an employee has been refused time off in contravention of their right or they have suffered a detriment for taking or requesting time off, the Employment Tribunal must make a declaration and may award compensation. In assessing the amount of compensation to be awarded to the employee, the Employment Tribunal will consider the employer’s default and also any financial loss sustained by the employee. In a successful claim for automatic unfair dismissal where the employee has been dismissed for the reason or principal reason that they took or requested time off to deal with an emergency involving their dependant, the Employment Tribunal is likely to award compensation based on both length of service as well as loss of earnings.