My child is sick and I need time to look after him/her, but my employer is refusing. Do I have any rights?

You have the right to take reasonable time off to deal with an emergency involving your child if he or she is ill and you need time to make arrangements for their care. This time is unpaid unless otherwise specified in your contract or staff handbook

If your employer is refusing you time off for this purpose, you should seek advice from your trade union rep or (if there is no recognised union in your workplace) your local Citizens Advice or Law Centre. You may be able to refer the matter to an employment tribunal, but there are strict time limits for making such claims. 

The first step before bringing any tribunal claim, is to complete an Acas Early Conciliation Notification Form and submit it to Acas. This is the first step in a process called 'Acas Early Conciliation'. This first step is compulsory. If you do not take it, you will not be able to bring your claim in the employment tribunal. 

For more information about Acas early conciliation, see the free leaflet available from the Acas website. 

For more information, see our Enforcing Your Rights section. 

Note that during the coronavirus pandemic, the rules are slightly different. If are required to self-isolate because your child has coronavirus symptoms, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), provided you qualify. SSP should be paid from the first day of your absence, but you must self-isolate for at least four days to be paid any SSP.  

The pandemic has created a fast-changing situation. You can find out about the most up-to-date position on the payments you can claim on the main TUC website or from Citizens Advice. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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