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

You have a right to time off work in certain circumstances. 

As well as 5.6 weeks' holiday a year, there are legal rights to paid time off for: 

  • pregnant workers to attend antenatal care; 

  • a primary adopter (for up to five adoption appointments);  

  • those being made redundant to look for alternative work; 

  • young workers for study leave; 

  • trade union officials for trade union duties

  • employee representatives engaged in redundancy or TUPE consultation

  • employee representatives carrying out their duties on an Information and Consultation (ICE) body, or a European Works Council (EWC); 

  • pensions fund trustees to carry out relevant duties; and 

  • health and safety representatives to carry out relevant duties. 

Some statutory rights provide access to time off that is part paid and part unpaid, for example, statutory maternity or adoption leave and pay. 

There are also rights to unpaid time off for: 

  • a baby’s father or the woman’s partner to accompany her to up to two antenatal appointments; 

  • a secondary adopter (to attend up to two adoption appointments); 

  • parental leave; 

  • dependants' leave to respond to emergencies involving those who rely on you; 

  • public duties (e.g. magistrate, school governor); and 

  • trade union members engaged in trade union activities. 

Many of these statutory rights are only available to employees, and some are only available to employees and qualifying temporary agency workers

Most of the statutory rights to time off that are available to temporary agency workers can only be accessed after 12 weeks spent doing the same kind of job for the same hirer. They include: 

  • paid time off when pregnant to go to antenatal appointments; 

  • unpaid time off to accompany your partner to up to two antenatal appointments; 

  • paid time off for up to five adoption meetings if you are the primary adopter; and 

  • unpaid time off for up to two adoption meetings if you are the secondary adopter. 

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.

What is WorkSmart?

A career coach that works for everyone.


Enjoy bite-sized activities delivered to you every week.

Lightbulb brain

Equip yourself with essential skills to be the best you yet.


Get the guidance you need to stay focused and reach your goals.

Worksmart circle