News and Events

Time Off for Emergencies

  • Posted

The EAT has held, in RBS v Harrison, that entitlement to parental leave under s.57A(1)(d) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 because of the unexpected disruption or termination of care arrangements for dependents, is not limited to last minute unavailability or emergencies.

The issue that arose for consideration by the EAT was as to the meaning of “necessary” and “unexpected” in s.57A(1). RBS sought to argue that as Mrs Harrison had been notified of the unavailability of her childminder two weeks prior, the termination could not be said to be unexpected. The EAT disagreed. By a process of statutory interpretation, the EAT stated that:

  • that the passage of time between the employee’s discovery of the forthcoming disruption of care arrangements and that disruption taking effect was to be considered as part of the question whether it was “necessary” for an employee to take the take off (s.57A(1))
  • the word “unexpected” does not involve a time element. There was no warrant for the insertion of the words “sudden” or “in emergency” into s.57A(1)(d)

[Thanks to Sian Reeves, pupil barrister at 1 Temple Gardens, for providing this summary]