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Time Off Work


There are several circumstances when an employee has a legal right to request time off work, or is unable to attend work for circumstances beyond their control. Many salon owners do not have written salon rules covering their policy on such issues and this can lead to both unhappiness and confusion. Here are a range of questions relating to such issues.

If you have a question then:

Q1 I walked nearly two miles in the snow to get to work, but eventually I had to turn back home. As I tried to get to work, shouldn’t I be paid?

You can imagine this was a very topical question. Ideally, your workplace rules or contract should cover this, however, the bottom line is that the employer is not obliged to pay you if you do not work. The absence could be unpaid, you could use a days’ holiday or even be paid and agree to work the time back but the decision is the Salon owners.

Q2 My part time stylist only works 2 days a week. She is 12 weeks pregnant and is requesting time off most weeks for scans etc. Surely this can’t be right?

The law is clear on this one..... All pregnant staff are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care appointments. This also covers relaxation classes and parent craft classes if the appointment is advised by a midwife or a doctor).

You are entitled to ask for evidence of antenatal appointments.

The male partner has no legal right to time off to attend the appointments.

Q3 My manager’s father died suddenly last week. I have no idea what she is entitled to can you help please?

It is good practice to have a policy in your salon covering all possible forms of time off. Legally there is no entitlement to paid time off for compassionate leave ,although some employers do grant a few days paid leave. Clearly it is a distressing time and the last thing you want is an employee being signed off sick by their GP. I always suggest an open conversation with the employee and you might consider a mix of paid/unpaid and leave.

Q4 I have two young children and, in the last year I have taken quite a bit of time off as they had normal childhood illnesses. My employer is threatening me with disciplinary action but aren’t I allowed time off for childcare?

Employees do have the right to time off to deal with emergencies although this need not be paid. The right relates to a family or household member or someone who relies on the employee for care. The emergency might relate to a sudden illness or an accident. The amount of time off isn’t prescribed but it is normally a day or a maximum of 2 days to deal with the emergency. It isn’t about providing ongoing care. Typically childhood illnesses are predictable and it is probably reasonable that your employer, after the first event, expects you to put some contingency plans in place, whilst it isn’t ideal many employees save leave for such eventualities. In answer to the question there is no automatic right to childcare every time a child is ill. Your employers focus will be about your attendance and the impact on the business. I think you need a constructive discussion with the salon owner to find a way to minimise these issues in the future, many employees have utilised some form of flexible working.

Q 5 My receptionist has been called for jury service-can I refuse her permission?

Any request would be to the Courts to release her form the commitment but I don’t think you would be successful. Employees don’t need to be paid whilst on jury service but you cannot take any action against them or dismiss them for attending, even if they don’t have 12 months service.

Q6 A relatively new employee suffered a bereavement, but has since had several periods of absence because she has continued to be upset about the incident. Is there anything I can do?

In a Tribunal case in 2002 an employer dismissed an employee in very similar circumstances in her probationary period. Both her mother and father had died in close proximity and she had several spells of sickness. She didn’t have 12 months service so couldn’t go to Employment Tribunal to claim unfair dismissal but she claimed she had been dismissed for taking compassionate leave and therefore didn’t need 12 months service. She lost her case as the Tribunal agreed that her sickness after her mother's death wasn’t directly related to the death of a dependent. Usefully the Tribunal felt the legislation covered such things as:

  • making arrangements such as funeral organisation, funeral attendance, registering death.
  • Paying back overpayments
  • In short there is no legal right to time off for sadness after a funeral

This was an unusual case but does clarify your position ,you need to deal with the impact of the attendance at work

David Wright Personnel

Phone - 01522 831 061

Mobile - 07930 358 067