AS a working parent it is often hard to balance parenting and a busy career.

Things don't always go to plan and you have to be prepared for when your child gets sick. Here's your employment rights as a parent.

Am I allowed to take time off if my child is sick?

In short, yes.

A child is your dependant which means you are allowed to take time off work to cope with an emergency.

Even if that emergency might actually just be a horrible common cold.

A day or two is considered sufficient to deal with a crisis, and time off beyond this point may result in unpaid leave.

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A dependant is defined as a spouse, partner, child, parent, or someone who depends on an employee for care, an elderly neighbour for example.

The Citizens Advice Bureau states: "If you’ve worked for your employer for a year you have the right to unpaid time off work to look after your children."

The right to time off covers: a lack of childcare, to arrange or attend a funeral, to care for a dependant who has fallen ill, or to put long term care in place for children or elderly relatives.

How much time do I get off?

The time you get off depends on your employment contract.

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The Citizens Advice Bureau also states: "You can take up to 18 weeks' unpaid leave before your child is five. If your child is disabled you can up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave before your child is 18.

"You can also take unpaid time off work to deal with unexpected problems – for example where childminding arrangements break down."

However, the sooner you can let your employer know when you're going to be back at work the better.

That way, you can both agree on the set amount and it's less likely it will have a negative effect on your work.

Both parents are entitled to time off to look after ill children.

What about pay?

This depends from contract to contract.

Your employer may pay you for time off to look after your child but they don't have to.

The Gov UK website recommends checking the details of your employment contract, your company handbook or the intranet site to get clued up on their individual policy.

Exceptions to the rule

You can only take time off work to look after your child if it is in the case of something unexpected.

For instance, if your child has had a doctor's appointment booked for the past few weeks then you will need to get Parental Leave instead.

Companies are required to let their parental employees take unpaid leave to look after their child's welfare.

This could mean booking a day off here and there to spend quality time with their kids, look around schools, or get used to a new childcare routine.

Parents can take this time off work safely in the knowledge that their employment rights and job security are ensured during this period.

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It's also worth finding out whether or not your employer has a flexible working policy.

This may mean you can work around your child's needs without disrupting your income.


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