FSP posted recently about employment gaps in an academic CV. It's true that academics have special problems with employment gaps because they have a ticking tenure clock. But I don't really understand why employment gaps should be viewed so negatively. Sure, if you've got an applicant who's clearly a dilettante - two years at this job, 6 month gap, 8 months at this other job, etc - then you may want to question their commitment.
But the odd gap doesn't necessarily mean that a worker is going to be a slacker or a short-timer.
One of my friends had such a gap. He was applying to a non-academic job, and this particular gap wasn't long enough for him to lose any technical skills (less than a year). One potential employer (female) asked him about it, but he knew his rights. So he hemmed and hawed. But she wouldn't stop asking about it. So he got fed up and told her the truth...
"I spent 8 months taking care of my mother when she had cancer!"
On the plus side, he made the interviewer feel like a royal ass. But really, did it matter what he was doing while he wasn't working? What if he decided to be a ski bum for a winter before settling down? How would that affect his 30-year career?
I don't have dependents. My longest employment gap since I was 14 was about 2 months (not counting grad school). My parents are relatively young and healthy. But I can't guarantee that I won't need to stop working at some point. Sometimes life happens.