Dependents’ leave during school holiday

July 20, 2018
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During the school holidays, many working parents struggle with childcare arrangements, especially during the summer months.

At what point does an issue relating to child care entitle an employee to exercise their rights to take Dependents’ Leave? Remember, dependents’ leave is available to everyone regardless of their length of service, however, an employee has no right to be paid whilst on dependents’ leave.

So how does dependents’ leave operate in relation to child care arrangements? Contrary to popular belief, an employee can’t exercise the statutory rights to dependents’ leave on the basis of a childcare problem alone:

It is only available where pre-existing childcare arrangements have unexpectedly broken down. This might be because of the childminder or other carer is unwell.

No right to leave

Dependents’ leave can not be taken where there is a non-emergency situation for example:

  • The employee’s usual childminder or relative is taking a period of pre-booked holiday.
  • The employee has failed to arrange adequate child care in time.
  • The employee simply changes their minds about their anticipated arrangements.


It is really important your employees understand how the right to Dependents’ Leave works, many also wrongly believe that their statutory right is paid. Therefore, it makes sense to set out the rules in a clear and robust, time off for dependents’ policy.

Where the right to Dependents’ leave applies, there’s no limit to the amount of time off which can be taken. It will usually be one or two days at most but it all depends on the individual circumstances. Leave should be enough to help the employee cope with the emergency and make alternative arrangements.

The employee must inform you soon as reasonably practical, of the reason for their absence and how long they will likely be away from work.