Carers

This page sets out your entitlements to take time off for dependants under UK legislation, and to vary your working hours to help with care of a child or adult.

All employees have a right to time off for dependants. There is no qualifying period and so you are entitled to this from the first day of your employment.

You are allowed to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with unexpected or sudden emergencies involving a dependant and to make any necessary long-term arrangements.

A dependant is your spouse, child or parent or someone who lives at your address (except as a tenant). It can also include someone who relies on you for assistance.

How much time off can I take?

You are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off. In most cases, one or two days is deemed to be reasonable. The right is intended to cover genuine emergencies and so longer absences should be discussed with your employer.

Am I entitled to be paid?

The right to time off for dependants does not include an entitlement to pay. Your employer has the discretion to award you time off with pay, however.

Flexible working and care of children

Employees have a right to request flexible working for the purpose of caring for a child. To qualify you must be an employee (supply agency teachers are not covered) and have at least 26 weeks of service when you apply.

You must also:

  • be the mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent of an eligible child

  • or be married to or be a partner of such a person and live with the eligible child.

In either case, you must have or expect to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child.

An eligible child must be no older than six when the application is made - disabled children must be no older than 18. For your request to be valid, your formal application must be made at least two weeks before your child's sixth or 18th birthday if your child is disabled.

If your application is accepted then your child's sixth or 18th birthday will not be relevant to any agreement reached with your employer.

'Flexible working' covers changes to your hours of work and when and where you are required to work. It is important to recognise that you do not have the automatic right to flexible working and you cannot insist that your employer accepts flexible working practices.

If you wish to amend your working pattern after maternity leave, please see ATL's factsheet Working part time after maternity.

Flexible working and care of adults

Carers of adults can also request flexible working arrangements. The definition of a carer is an employee who is or expects to be caring for an adult who is:

  • married to, or the civil partner or partner of the employee

  • or a near relative of the employee

  • or lives at the same address as the employee.

The near relative definition includes parents, parent-in-laws, adult children, adopted adult children, siblings (including those who are in-laws), uncles, aunts or grandparents and step-relatives.

For more information, see the right to flexible working section.

Further education agreements

ATL and the national employers' body (the Association of Colleges) have agreed national guideline agreements which establish recommended minimum standards for colleges and FE institutions for parental and family purposes and dependants' leave.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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