A new type of “leave” for employees?

Everton Footballer Wayne Rooney, was allegedly going to ask his employers for “sympathetic leave”. Is this a new type of leave and are they obliged to agree?


In addition to annual holiday, your employees may be able to ask for:

  • Time of for Dependants
  • Parental Leave
  • Adoption/maternity/paternity/Shared Parental Leave
  • Time off for Training (Companies with over 250 staff).


Time off for Dependants

Time off has to be given when a dependent has an emergency such as:

  • An urgent situation at school or school closure.
  • An accident or hospital admission.
  • A child falling ill.
  • A pet is not a “dependant” but do consider whether your employee’s request is reasonable.
  • Broken boilers and household deliveries are not “dependents”!

Employees should only take a “reasonable” amount of time off to deal with the emergency or put other care arrangements in place.  Usually no more than a day or two.

Emergency time off for Dependants is unpaid. Your employee does not have to have any service to be able to claim it.


Parental Leave

If the situation is likely to last longer than a couple of days, and your employee has at least one year’s service, you could suggest they take Parental Leave.

Up to 4 weeks’ per year, per child, Parental Leave can be taken.  It must be used in whole weeks, unless the child is disabled.


Sympathetic Leave

There is no such thing in UK law as “Sympathetic Leave”. It’s down to you as the employer to decide whether you are able to allow your employee time off to deal with a personal matter.

If you find their personal life is distracting them from their work, a few days off can do wonders. If you they don’t have any holiday left to use, unpaid leave can be an option.

Pressures of work may mean this is not possible to offer this. Is there a compromise you can come to? For instance could you give them some time off if they agreed to be contactable?


Compassionate Leave

Surprisingly, there is no legal requirement to give paid compassionate leave to an employee when they lose a loved one.  Most employers will give a limited amount of paid time off for close relatives.  I think we will see this change in future years.  Suggestions have quite rightly been made about paid time off for those who lose a child.   That said, if all employers acted with humanity, maybe new laws would not be necessary.


Just remember, how you feel you were treated when you were at rock bottom, tends to be memorable.  Wouldn’t you want your employees to remember how you treated them with respect and compassion?



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