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Coronavirus

If an employee needs time off work to look after someone

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This could apply to situations to do with coronavirus.

A dependant does not necessarily live with the person, for example they could be an elderly neighbour or relative who relies on the person for help.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.
 
The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.

If a dependant such as a partner, child or relative in the same household gets coronavirus symptoms, they should receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a minimum for this time. 

School closures

As schools in England, Scotland and Wales will be closing, this will have an affect on care and working arrangements. This may be an anxious time for parents, and employers will need to be planning cover at work. 

If employees need emergency time off for child care or to make new arrangements, they can use:

  • time off to care for someone else
  • holiday, if their employer agrees

Employers and employees can consider these steps:

  • talking to each other early on about time off that might be needed 
  • agreeing regular conversations so both can plan ahead
  • agreeing flexible working instead of taking longer periods of time off, for example working from home or changing working hours to allow for child care

If any agreement is made, it’s a good idea for it to be in writing.

Source ACAS March 2020