During the course of employment, there are times when employees seek leave other than for holiday. In some instances it may be reasonable to insist that annual leave entitlement should be used to cover the situations. In others, there is a statutory right to time off and, in some cases, this is with pay.

Bereavement leave

It is not unusual for employers to grant a number of days’ paid leave to employees when they lose a close relative although you are not obliged to pay. This leave may be extended at the time of the funeral perhaps by a further day or two.

Compassionate/special leave

This covers more serious personal situations, such as when a child or spouse contracts a dangerous illness, or when the employee’s house is destroyed or seriously damaged by fire, for example. Any leave granted is kept under review and extended a few days at a time. Whether this leave is paid or not is up to you and will depend on the circumstances of the case.

Extended leave

This applies to situations in which, for example, an employee who comes from abroad wishes to return to his or her country of origin to visit family and relations.

Alternatively, the individual may be experiencing difficulties in the country of origin and may want to take time out to deal with these. If granted and there is no entitlement to it the dates on which the leave period will commence and end should be clearly defined in a letter, as should details regarding which days are to be taken as annual leave and which will be without pay.

The employee should then sign a copy of the letter to signify acceptance of its terms and this should be retained on his or her personal file.

Jury service

This is generally unavoidable. An allowance will be available to employees paid by the court, but it will usually not compensate fully for lost earnings. Many employers therefore pay wages/salary during periods of jury service, minus the amount that can be claimed.

Public duties

Before taking up public duties, an employee should be required to provide you with details about the commitment he or she wishes to take on, including details of the total amount of absence likely to be required. You should then confirm in writing the level of absence you are prepared to accept. You should also make clear that you will expect him or her to undertake as many of the duties concerned outside normal working hours and that, when time off is requested, a decision will be made in the light of operational circumstances at the time.

Time off for dependants

Employees are allowed to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with unexpected or sudden emergencies and to make any necessary long-term arrangements.There is no qualifying length of service before employees become entitled to this right.

Dependants include a husband, wife, child or parent of the employee, or someone who lives in the same house for example, a partner, grandparent who lives as part of the family. It does not include tenants, boarders or a live-in employee.

The amount of time off is not specified, but it is suggested that, in most cases, one or two days off would be enough.