Leave for other reasons

Departments may grant additional leave in certain circumstances. The University does not attempt to prescribe centrally the amount of additional leave that might be appropriate in each individual case; departments have discretion to authorise such leave according to the circumstances of the individual concerned. The following guidance describes some of the circumstances in which absence from work may be allowed.

This guidance has been drafted in such a way as to ensure that the benefits provided, and the language used to describe the benefits and their scope, do not inadvertently restrict those whose culture is not that of the majority, or exclude those in same-sex relationships from benefiting; departments will wish to ensure that, in implementing the guidance, they do not unjustifiably discriminate between employees on these or other grounds.

It is not possible to provide written guidance on each of the circumstances in which a department might consider a request for additional leave. Unless otherwise specified, departments have discretion to award paid or unpaid leave, or a combination of both, and HR Business Partners will, on request, advise departments making such decisions - perhaps especially when a particularly long period of leave has been requested, or when a member of staff believes they are being unfairly treated.

In every case, save in the case of an emergency occurring overnight, or at the weekend, an employee must apply in advance to their Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) and in no case should an employee leave their place of work without having obtained permission from that person, or, alternatively, from the head of department, or, where this is the agreed arrangement within the department, from their line manager, who will liaise with the head of department and administrator.

It will continue to be important that departments have in place clear reporting procedures for staff needing to take additional leave, and departments may wish to review these procedures in light of the amendments to the University's arrangements for additional leave summarised below. In particular it is important that employees know to whom they should report if either needing to leave work, or to be absent at the start of a day or shift, to deal with an emergency.

The effective operation of these arrangements in the interests of all employees is dependent on requests for additional leave being made only when necessary and in good faith. Regrettably, as with any system permitting leave of absence from work, there may be a small number of individuals who abuse the facility by trying to obtain leave without valid reason. It is therefore important that individuals be required to account properly to their departments for any leave of absence. Against the general background set out above departments may, in appropriate circumstances, ask for reasonable evidence that the leave requested is required for the purpose stated and the withholding of such evidence may, following further advice and guidance from Personnel Services, result in loss of pay. Absence from work without good cause may also, following further advice and guidance from Personnel Services, result in disciplinary action.

As in the case of their own illness, members of staff who are prevented from attending at their place of work should inform the administrator or equivalent within their department of the reason for the absence as soon as possible.

Caring for those who are sick, and dealing with domestic emergencies

Absence from work to attend to the sickness of a member of the immediate family or equivalent, or to attend to a family or domestic emergency will normally be paid in the first instance to enable the employee to make the necessary arrangements for continued care or attention. Such paid leave will normally be limited to a period ranging from half a day to no more than two days. Departments may grant additional leave, which will normally be unpaid or taken as annual leave. In certain exceptional circumstances the department might wish to grant a further limited period of paid leave for these purposes. It is important that these provisions are not abused and departments are asked to monitor the frequency of leave requests.

Visits to doctor, etc.

The University expects that visits to the doctor, dentist or a hospital (to receive treatment, or for screening/tests) will be arranged in such a way as to disrupt the work of departments as little as possible, by, for example, arranging early morning or late afternoon appointments. However, it is recognised that occasionally it may be difficult for employees to arrange medical appointments outside of their normal working hours (especially those working full-time). When travel times to and from appointments are significant and would disrupt the working day further, it may be appropriate to make arrangements with the employee to make the time up later on, or to grant the day off as annual leave. Situations should be considered on a case by case basis, especially when more urgent appointments are necessary. Employees are expected to give as much advanced notice as possible of a medical appointment and, where possible, to seek permission from their manager in advance. Permission to attend appointments will not be unreasonably withheld and staff should be treated fairly and consistently.

The University is under a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for employees who are covered by the Equality Act 2010. Such adjustments can include appropriate time off for medical visits and treatment in relation to the disability. For further advice on disability-related issues, please contact the University Occupational Health Service or the University Disability Adviser.

In cases when an employee frequently takes time off work for medical appointments (excluding hospital treatment, or where this has been agreed and discussed in advance) advice from the relevant HR Business Partner should be sought in the first instance. It could be appropriate to refer the employee to the University Occupational Health Service to obtain a medical report, in line with the sickness absence procedures.

For guidance on time off for ante-natal appointments, managers should refer to our maternity guidance.

Bereavement leave

Leave of absence to attend the funeral of a member of your immediate family or equivalent, or to carry out executorial duties, should normally be granted as paid leave outside an employee's annual leave. Departments are asked to give sympathetic consideration to the need for additional paid time away from work if an employee is coming to terms with such bereavement. When an employee's own health is considered to be adversely affected by bereavement a short period of sick leave might be more appropriate and departments are asked to advise employees accordingly. If an employee requires extended time away from work to travel to or from a funeral or to carry out non-executorial duties associated with a death, they should discuss their requirements with the departmental administrator (or head of department, or, where this is the agreed arrangement within the department, with the line manager, who should liaise with the head of department and administrator), who may, at their discretion, grant leave, which will normally be unpaid or taken as annual leave. Departments may, however, in certain exceptional circumstances, grant a further limited period of paid leave for such purposes.

ACAS have published a good practice guide to Managing bereavement in the workplace which managers may find helpful.

Pilgrimage

Details are provided in the holiday section.

Election to Westminster or European Parliament

Two days of paid leave will be granted to employees who are standing as bona fide candidates for election to Westminster or the European Parliament and who have taken three or more days of personal leave in connection with their candidacy. This leave is to be taken at any reasonable time subject to operational requirements, noting that one of the two days offered by the University is to cover, where possible, the day of election.

Jury service

If an employee receives a summons to serve on a jury they should report this to their department. Leave to attend for jury service is normally given with full pay, in which case no claim for loss of earnings should be made to the Crown.

Voluntary public service

Members of staff should obtain the agreement of their head of department to the time-off involved before undertaking voluntary public service. Departments will grant reasonable paid leave of absence to such members of staff required to attend council meetings, to serve as magistrates, or school governors, etc.

Volunteer Reserve Forces

Staff who are members of Britain's Volunteer Reserve Forces (Territorial Army, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force) who are required to attend a two week summer training exercise may be granted one week's paid leave for this purpose, the remaining week to be taken within the employee's normal annual leave entitlement.

Open University

Assistance to students of the Open University who are university employees is complementary to the assistance provided by the County Council to any Oxfordshire resident as defined by the Council. The assistance which is available from the County Council is to be seen in its Handbook on Awards to Students which may be obtained from the office of the Chief Education Officer at the County Offices.

The University will assist by providing:

  1. up to a week's extra paid holiday each year to attend the Summer School;
  2. facilities for the use by the student of the libraries of other departments and institutions as well as their own, by arrangement with the department concerned.

Other than the extra week's holiday, additional time off for study is not granted.

Young employees - right to time off for study and training

The Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 requires employers to permit certain young employees, who have not achieved a certain standard in their education/training, reasonable paid time off to study or train for a relevant qualification which will help them towards achieving that standard. The training or study can take place in the workplace, at college, with another employer or a training provider or elsewhere.

Under the legislation, eligible employees are those aged 16-18, who are not in full-time education and who are not yet qualified to level 2. Level 2 qualifications are: (i) 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C; (ii) an intermediate level GNVQ; (iii) an NVQ level 2; (iv) a BTEC First; (v) certain other qualifications outlined in the DfEE publication 'Time off for study or training: a guide for employers'. Young employees aged 18 who are still working towards the above qualifications are also covered by this legislation.

The legislation does not specify the amount of paid time off in working hours which it is reasonable that an employer should allow, since this will vary depending on the differing circumstances of employers and employees. However, employers must ensure that time off is reasonable with respect to the requirements of the employee's study or training, the circumstances of the business of the employer, and the effect of the employee's time off on the running of that business. When the legislation was debated in Parliament, a reasonable period of time off equivalent to one day a week was suggested.

If you are employing staff aged 16-18 in your department you are advised to read the DfEE publication mentioned above to ensure that you are aware of your legal obligations to such staff regarding their education and or training. Failure to adhere to this requirement could result in cases being taken by a young employee to an employment tribunal.