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Employment Relations Act 1999

New section 57A: Right to time off for dependants

182.Under new section 57A(1) the employee has the right to time off:

  • (paragraphs (a) and (b)) to help when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured (including, under subsection (6), mental illness or injury);

  • (paragraph (c)) when a dependant dies;

  • (paragraph (d)) to cope when the arrangements for caring for a dependant unexpectedly break down; or

  • (paragraph (e)) to deal with an unexpected incident involving a dependent child during school hours, or on a school trip or in other circumstances when the school has responsibility for the child.

183.Subsection (2) provides that the right only applies if the employee, as soon as reasonably practicable, tells the employer why he or she is absent and (unless the employee is already back at work) for how long the absence is likely to last.

184.Subsection (3) defines ‘dependant’ as the employee’s parent, wife, husband or child, or someone who lives with the employee as part of the family, other than an employee or tenant etc. (This definition is taken from section 62(3)(c) of the Family Law Act 1996 and would include, for example, partners or elderly relatives living with the family). Subsections (4) and (5) provide that the dependant can also be someone who relies on the employee in the particular circumstances of an illness, accident or disruption of normal care arrangements.

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