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The Employment Rights Act gives all employees the right to dependants' leave. This is a right to reasonable time off work to help a dependant in certain circumstances. 

A dependant is someone who depends on you for help to deal with unexpected difficulties or emergencies. The law defines dependants as: 

  • a spouse or civil partner; 
  • a child; 
  • a parent; 
  • a  person who lives in the same household except as an employee, lodger or tenant; and 
  • any person who reasonably relies on you for assistance in the event of physical or mental illness or accident (for example, a neighbour). 

Your employer does not have to pay you if you take dependants' leave unless there is a workplace agreement that you will be paid. Employees' jobs are protected during their absence on dependants' leave. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.
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