Time off work

There are many situations where your employer is required to give you time off from work. Failing to do so could be grounds for you bringing a claim.


Am I entitled to holidays?

Yes. All employees are entitled to paid holiday.

Full-time employees are entitled to at least 5.6 weeks (including bank holidays) each year.  This is the equivalent of 28 days. If you work part-time, you get the pro-rata equivalent.

You should be paid for annual leave at the same rate as your normal pay.

If you are not getting your full holiday entitlement, you should raise a grievance with your employer. If this is not successful, you can complain to an Employment Tribunal.


I am being made redundant. Can I have time off to look for another job?

If you have been served with notice, you are entitled to be paid for a reasonable amount of time off during your notice period to look for work, provided that you have been continuously employed there for 2 years by the time your notice expires. What is reasonable depends on your circumstances. If your employer refuses to allow you to take time off or does not pay you, you could bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.


I need time off to look after someone.

You are also entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving someone who depends on you for help or care. This is usually when  a spouse, partner, child or parent becomes ill or injured, or you need to deal with an unexpected disruption or breakdown of care arrangements for someone.

What is reasonable will depend on your circumstances, but one or two days would usually be considered appropriate. You should inform your employer as soon as possible.

Despite the right being granted by law, your employer may think less of you for taking the time off. If they refuse to allow you to take time off, you could complain to an Employment Tribunal to enforce your rights. If you are penalised – such as being demoted, passed over for promotion, dismissed, or have your hours reduced, you could bring a claim against them which could include unfair dismissal.

You do not have an automatic right to take time off work to care for non-dependants.


Am I entitled to take time off work for hospital, dentist or other appointments?

Your employer is not legally required to give you time off work to visit the doctor or dentist (whether paid or unpaid) unless your contract of employment says so, or in cases where your absence is because  you suffer from a disability or the time off is for antenatal appointments.

Your employer can insist that you make appointments outside work hours, take holiday leave or make the time up later on. You should check your contract of employment to see what rights you have.

Medical or dental emergencies which require urgent treatment will likely amount to a sickness absence. In these situations, either statutory or contractual sick pay will be due to you.

If you are pregnant, you have a legal right to reasonable time off work with pay to attend antenatal appointments if arranged by a doctor, midwife or registered nurse. Antenatal care may include relaxation and parent craft classes as well as medical examinations.

If you are a prospective father, or the partner of a pregnant woman, you can take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments per pregnancy.


I need a career break

If you are thinking of taking one, you should check whether your employer operates a sabbatical policy. If they do not, we can help you to negotiate with them and show how it would benefit their business.


I have been called up for jury service.

Your employer must give you time off for jury service, but they can ask you to request it be delayed if your absence will have a serious and adverse impact on the business.

Your employer doesn’t have to pay you when you are on jury service, but you can claim for loss of earnings from the court.


Time off for public duties

Most employees have the right to a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off to carry out public duties including being a magistrate, local councillor, school governor and trade union activities.

Special rules apply to members of the Territorial Army or Reserved Services.


Rest breaks

If you work more than 6 hours in a day, you are entitled to at least a 20 minute rest break away from your workstation. Read our article here.

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