The starting point for time off for dependants is that the statutory right only applies to time needed to deal with emergencies that involve a dependant; not for any emergency. This period cannot be booked off in advance and should be used to provide assistance to dependants, make arrangements or deal with unexpected incidents.
The people who fall in to the definition of dependants are wider than spouses, partners or children and include someone living with the employee as family or someone who relies on the employee in an emergency, such as an elderly neighbour. Get clear information about the person involved in the emergency to decide whether the employee falls within the statutory right.
Employees have the right to a reasonable amount of time off, though there is no specific definition of what amount of time will be classed as reasonable. Reasonableness will depend on the individual situation and is likely to vary for each emergency. Importantly, the time off should be limited to the time needed to make alternative arrangements or deal with the emergency; not as a long term solution.
The statutory right to time off for dependants arises when the employee informs you, as soon as is reasonably practicable, that they need time off and how long this is likely to be for. Where this doesn’t happen, any period of absence taken by the employee does not fall within the right.
Payment does not need to be made for any time off for dependants, unless payment has been included as a contractual right for the employee. However, this issue can prove costly if the employee is subjected to a detriment or time off is unreasonably refused as this leaves the business open to a tribunal claim for compensation.