What examples of absences authorised by the contract of employment are there and what is the entitlement to pay?

Many contracts of employment contain express terms specifying permitted absences. These are usually found set out in the statement of employment particulars or in a policy or handbook, or if a union is recognised, in a collective agreement.

Examples may include:

  • holidays, including bank holidays;
  • sickness absence;
  • medical appointments;
  • antenatal care appointments;
  • accompanying a partner to an antenatal appointment;
  • compassionate leave;
  • maternity/paternity/adoption/shared parental leave;
  • adoption appointments;
  • for care of dependants (i.e. where care arrangements fall through unexpectedly); and
  • temporary lay-off.

In some cases (e.g. for holidays, antenatal appointments, some adoption appointments, sickness absence and temporary lay-off), there is a statutory entitlement to some pay. In other cases, it will depend on what it says in the contract.

Details will be in your contract, or in the written statement of particulars which sets out your terms and conditions of employment. Your employer must provide you with this written statement within a month of starting work. (From April 2020, the law will change, giving you a right to this statement on your first day at work.)

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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