Being a working parent is a rewarding but tough journey, not least the stress of what to do if your child needs you at home while your employer needs you at work. This situation can be confusing, especially if your employer isn’t sure what your rights are, so it’s a good idea to gen up before you find yourself in this tricky predicament. 

As an employee, you’re entitled to time off if there is an emergency involving your child or dependant, which includes anyone depending on your for care. Confusingly, there is no specified timescale for the time off you are allowed as it depends entirely on the situation for which you require time off. It could be just a couple of hours to arrange emergency childcare, or longer if the situation necessitates — for example, you’re a lone parent and your child needs to self-isolate or is injured. If you have an idea as to how much time you will need, it’s wise to let your employer know as soon as you do, this way they can plan ways to ensure your work is completed while you are absent. While there isn’t a limit to how much time you can take off in an emergency situation, your employer will need to be kept updated.

Your employer won’t be able to give you emergency time off for a pre-arranged situation, for example, if your child has an appointment or your childminder has taken time-off — this will need to come out of your standard parental or annual leave.

The bad news is that your employee does not have to pay you for this time away from work — although some do regardless. It’s always worth checking through your contract as this will outline your company’s policy. 

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