School Closure and Dependants’ Leave Guidance

With the news that schools are closing, this has caused concern for both employees and employers with regard to how they will need to deal with childcare and possible extended period of absence. We’ve outlined some information on dependants’ leave and what options are available.

Dependants’ Leave

Currently, where there has been an unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of a dependant, an employee is entitled to take reasonable time off to deal with such disruption.

This is called dependants’ leave and there is no statutory right to be paid for this however this depends on the provisions within the employee’s contract. Some organisations pay full pay, others don’t. It applies to all employees, irrespective of their length of service or whether they work full or part time or are employed on a permanent, temporary or fixed term basis.


Parents are now facing an unprecedented extended period whereby they have no childcare facilities and if they take dependants’ leave, in most cases this would be unpaid, which would cause a large number of families financial hardship. Therefore, it is important that employers now look at this in a more pragmatic way and consider working with each employee to find a solution that suits everyone.

We set out below some possible options to consider:

  • Working from home
  • Working from home and flexible hours
  • Temporary variation to working hours / pattern
  • Unpaid dependants’ leave
  • Paid dependants’ leave

Whether the above options are viable will obviously come down to the financial circumstances of the employer and the working arrangements  of the employees.

Employee Protection

If an employee enforces their right to take dependants’ leave they are given protection under the Employments Right Act not to be unfairly dismissed or suffer a detriment for doing so.

As can be seen from the above, we would advise employers to “think outside the box” to ensure that both employers and employees get through this difficult period without undue hardship where possible.

If you have any queries or wish to discuss any possible alternatives to taking unpaid dependants’ leave, please contact Katie Hodson, Associate in our Employment Law and HR team on 0161 475 7670 or email: katie.hodso[email protected].