Employees are entitled to take time off work for a variety of reasons. Most employers are fully aware of annual leave requirements and although they may not know the detail, also know that employees can take time off work for things like maternity leave or similar family leave entitlements.
But there are a number of other reasons you might find an employee requests time off work and some of them you might not be aware of, so we’ve composed a useful list of entitlements to leave for various different purposes.
Some of them are paid, some not, and some of them are subject to the employee having completed a certain length of service with you. But you need to be aware of all of them as you may end up having to pay compensation if you refuse time off in breach of an employee’s statutory entitlement.
- Jury service or other public duties such as acting as a Justice of the Peace, reasonable unpaid time off
- Antenatal appointments, either paid for the pregnant women or unpaid for the partner or father
- Adoption appointments, either paid for the main adopter or unpaid for the partner
- For trade union representative, employee representative or health and safety representative duties, reasonable paid time off
- Trade union activities, reasonable unpaid time off
- Pension scheme trustee, reasonable paid time off
- For 16 and 17 year olds reasonable time off for study or training
- Time off for mobilisation for someone in the volunteer or regular reserves
- For employees under notice of redundancy to look for work or undertake training as part of looking for work, reasonable paid time off
- To deal with emergencies involving dependants, reasonable unpaid time off
- To act as companion at a disciplinary or grievance hearing, reasonable paid time off
- For duties arising from information and consultation requirements, reasonable paid time off
Some of these are of course more likely than others to occur in small businesses but it’s worth being aware of all of them. You will notice that virtually all of them involve that employment law classic word “reasonable”. It can be frustrating as a business owner when it is not spelled out exactly how much time off you need to give someone and you may feel concerned that lack of specifics is more likely to lead to dispute, as one person’s definition of reasonable doesn’t match another’s.
But actually that word reasonable is really useful for small businesses and allows you to take a view of the individual circumstances (which in so many of these examples can vary hugely) and make a decision.
Remember this list is not comprehensive, so if you are not sure whether a request for time off should be granted, or if you would like some advice on your employees’ entitlements to time away from work, do get in touch.