Parental leave, compassionate leave and time off for dependants

The Family Leave Arrangements contain more detailed information about parental leave, compassionate leave and time off for dependants, including how and when to apply. This information is summarised below.

Parental leave

Staff who have completed one year’s continuous service have a statutory entitlement to up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave in respect of each child, provided:

  • the leave is taken by the child's 18th birthday;
  • the purpose of the leave is to look after the child or to make arrangements for their welfare (for example, to settle a child into a new nursery); and
  • the leave is taken in multiples of one week at a time. 

In all cases, a maximum of four weeks' parental leave can be taken in respect of an individual child in any 12 month period. Part-time staff have a pro-rata entitlement to parental leave, so a ‘week’s leave’ for somebody working three days a week will be three days.

Where parental leave is taken for the purposes of caring for a disabled child, the leave may be taken in multiples of one day.

Time off for dependants

All staff have the statutory right to take a ‘reasonable amount’ of unpaid time off to deal with a sudden or unexpected emergency involving a dependant. A dependant is defined as a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the staff member, or someone who lives in the same household, such as a partner or another relative.

In cases of illness or injury, or where care arrangements break down, it also includes someone who relies on the staff member for assistance, e.g. an elderly neighbour.

In the majority of cases, time off for dependants could also be dealt with under the compassionate leave provisions.

Compassionate leave

Heads of school/budget centre have discretion to grant compassionate leave, for a period not normally exceeding five continuous working days at any one time. This leave may be paid at the discretion of the Head. 

Compassionate leave may be appropriate in circumstances not covered by other types of leave. Heads have the discretion to grant compassionate leave in a potentially wider range of circumstances than those listed in relation to dependant leave.


Family Leave Arrangements

Related links

Flexible working

Unpaid leave

Career breaks