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Legal protection for UK employees

What must companies do by law with regard to giving people time off when they are caring, ill or recently bereaved?

Flexible working

  • The right to request flexible working was extended on 30 June 2014 to all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment by the Children and Families Act 2014.
  • This includes reduced hours or job share, staggered hours, flexi-time and home working arrangements.


  • The Employment Rights Act 1996 stipulates that Employers must give someone ‘reasonable’ time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. For example, a breakdown in care arrangements.
  • This time off is likely to be short-term, around one or two days, but there is no legal definition of how long a reasonable amount of time off should be. For further information see:
  • Employers do not have to pay their employees for emergency time off. For further information see:


  • The Employment Act 2002 allowed certain carers the right to make a formal request for flexible working.
  • The legislation initially gave the right to parents of children under six or disabled children under 18.
  • It was some years later before the scope was expanded to include other carers.


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