Time Off Work As an employer, there are rules you must follow that allow your employees reasonable time off work for certain purposes. This factsheet gives details. It does not try to describe every detail, and it is not a full statement of the law. You can find more detailed information in the publications listed later in this factsheet. These rights apply in England, Scotland and Wales. You can find guidance on the similar rights which apply in Northern Ireland in a series of Northern Ireland Small Firms Factsheets, which you can order by phoning Tel 02890 257 678. Do these regulations apply to my business? The regulations apply to all businesses, no matter how many workers they have. When must I allow time off? You must normally allow your employees time off to carry out public duties as a Justice of the Peace or a member of: o a local authority o a police authority o a statutory tribunal o a prison visitors board or a prison visiting committee (in Scotland) o a National Health Service (NHS) Trust o a health authority, a special health authority or a primary care trust (in England and Wales), or a health board (in Scotland) o the managing or governing body of an educational establishment maintained by either a local education authority or a further or higher education corporation (in England and Wales ) o a school council or board, the management board of a self- governing school, a college of further of education, or the governing body of a central institution or a designated institution (in Scotland) o the General Teaching Council for England and Wales o the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency o the service authority for the National Criminal Intelligence Service or the National Crime Squad or o the Scottish water and sewerage authorities and water industry consultative committees. You must also give your employees time off for the following activities: to carry out industrial-relations duties or receive necessary training as a properly-appointed official of an independent, recognised trade union to take part in certain activities of an independent, recognised trade union of which they are a member to carry out duties or receive appropriate training as a safety representative to carry out duties or receive appropriate training as a trustee of an occupational pension scheme to look for another job or arrange training for future employment when they are being made redundant to go to antenatal care appointments (including relaxation and parentcraft classes) during pregnancy maternity leave (see the separate factsheet on maternity rights) parental leave (see 'Where can I get further information?' at the end of this factsheet) to deal with an emergency involving a dependant (a child, partner, parent or someone else who relies on the employee for care). This can cover cases of sickness, injury or assault, a death in the family, a partner giving birth, care arrangements breaking down or an incident at a child's school to carry out duties or receive appropriate training as (or to be) an employee representative for consultation over collective redundancies or business transfers to carry out duties as a member of a special negotiating body or a European Works Council, an information and consultation representaative, or a candidate in an election to be a member or representative. Also, you must allow employees aged 16 or 17, who have few or no qualifications, time off to study or train for approved qualifications which will help them achieve a reasonable standard (for example, NVQ Level 2). Certain employees aged 18 have the right to complete study or training they have already started. The study or training can be in the workplace, at college, with another employer or a training provider, or elsewhere. How much time off must I allow? You have to allow only as much time off as is reasonable. What is reasonable will depend on all the circumstances. There are no set rules about this. You will need to consider the size and resources of your business the likely effect of the employees'absence the amount of time off needed for the stated purpose and the amount of time off already allowed. In some cases it might be reasonable to refuse time off altogether (although you cannot refuse time off to deal with an emergency). In the case of time off for carrying out duties or taking part in activities of an independent, recognised trade union, you can find helpful guidance in the 'Code of Practice number 3: Time off for trade union duties and activities' issued by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas). In case of time off for antenatal care, you must allow the woman enough time off to keep the appointment, This includes the travelling and waiting time as well as the time taken up by the appointment. If an employee needs time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, they are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time to deal with the problem and put any other necessary arrangements in place. What time is reasonable will depend on the type of emergency. For maternity leave, see the separate factsheet on maternity rights. For parental leave, see 'Where can I get further information' at the end of this factsheet. Must time off be with pay? Yes, you must pay your employee unless the time off is for carrying out public duties taking part in activities of an independent, recognised trade union of which the employee is a member dealing with an emergency involving a dependant. parental leave or maternity leave (special arrangements apply - see the separate factsheet on maternity rights). Is there anyone who is not covered by these rules? Yes, the rules do not cover self-employed people, independent contractors and some trainees and certain other groups, including some working at sea and some public servants and members of the police service and armed forces. What can an employee do if they think I have unreasonably refused to allow them time off? An employee who thinks they have been unreasonably refused time off to which they are legally entitled may make a complaint against you to an employment tribunal. They must normally make a complaint within three months of the date when you refused them the time off. The tribunal may order you to pay the employee compensation if it finds in their favour. Where can I get further information? You may find the following free publications, all available from Jobcentre Plus (formerly Employment Service) Jobcentres, or direct from the DTI Publications Orderline on Tel 0870 150 2500, are useful sources of information. 'Time Off for Public Duties' (PL702) 'Time Off for job-hunting or to arrange training' (PL703) 'Maternity Rights - a guide for employers and employees' (PL958) 'Time Off for Dependants - a guide for employers and employees' (URN 99/1186) 'Parental Leave - a guide for employers and employees' (URN 99/1193) Time Off for Study and Training You can order the following DfES publications from the DfES Publications Order line on 0845 602 2260. 'Time Off for Study or Training: Employment Legislation' (Ref TfST/EL1) 'Time Off for Study or Training: A Guide for Employers' (Ref TfST/EG1) 'Time Off for Study or Training: Summary' (Ref TfST/EG2) The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) provides information and guidance on a wide range of employment and industrial relations matters. Their national phone enquiry service is free, impartial and confidential, and is listed under "Acas" in your local phone book. You can get 'Employing People - a handbook for small firms' (price £4.95) and free leaflets about Acas and their services from Acas Publications on Tel 0870 242 9090. Acas can conciliate in actual or possible complaints to employment tribunals. This is free, voluntary, and uses discussion to help the people involved in a dispute reach their own agreement.