Your Right to 'Necessary Leave' If Your Kids' School Closes Due to NUT Strike on 30 June

Dear Colleagues,


In view of the strikes next Thursday 30 June 2011, I felt a reminder on the legal position regarding necessary leave to look after children or other dependents may be of assistance.

Under S.57A Employment Rights Act 1996 (“ERA 1996”), employees have the right to take unpaid time off work, in certain circumstances, to care for or make arrangements in respect of a ‘dependant’. In order for the right to apply, the employee must:
(a) tell the employer the reason for his or her absence as soon as reasonably practicable; and
(b) if able, to contact the employer before returning to work, giving the employer an estimate of how long the absence will last.

The issue here is whether members have had sufficient time to make alternate care arrangements. The legal test is whether it was ‘necessary’ and ‘unexpected’, and not as is often wrongly assumed, ‘sudden’ or in an emergency situation.

Therefore it is imperative that any member who believes that they will have a difficulty in finding alternative care provision for their dependents during next week’s strike, must inform their employer as soon as possible. This will then give them protection from any potential disciplinary action. It should be noted that the right is only for unpaid leave. Companies may offer the choice of taking a day’s holiday instead, but this would be discretionary.