HR tip: Dependents' leave

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Question: "One of our employees has an aged and infirm mother who is looked after during work days by a home help. The home help herself is knocking on a bit and frequently cannot come out. As a result our employee often has one or two days off to look after her mother. This is highly disruptive. Can we do anything?

HR Tip: The employee certainly would be entitled to a reasonable amount of time off without pay to deal with an emergency. In this case I suggest one day to look after her mother and another to make some longer term arrangement. But if this happens frequently it is not an emergency and, much as I and doubtless you sympathise with the employee, she really must make a permanent arrangement so as to avoid losing time from work. I think you need to have a talk to her to explain the situation. I would give her a couple of weeks to try to resolve the situation but let her know that, from then on, if her persistent absences continue, you will have to consider applying the disciplinary procedure, which ultimately could result in her losing her job.

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14th Jun 2007 12:43

It might be appropriate to mention to this lady that she may apply to request to work flexible working hours. The regulations dealing with requests for fleixble working were extended in April 2007, to cover those who have to care for dependents. Caring for a sick relative would fall into this category. Have you considered this as an option?

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