Making an application

If you wish to apply for a career break the first stage is to discuss this with your line manager. An application form is available which should be submitted to the departmental administrator.

Considering requests

Requests for career breaks may be complex for departments to consider but it is expected that a decision will be made within 1 month of application. It is not always possible to approve applications and employees should not make firm plans until an application has been formally approved in writing by the Departmental Administrator or Head of Department, and a contract amendment letter has been issued, and signed and returned by the employee. The granting of a career break and the duration of the break are entirely at the University’s discretion and the decision of the Head of Department will be final.

In considering applications departments should review:

  • the potential benefits of the proposal which may include improved productivity, morale and commitment, retention of key staff and/or salary or other cost savings
  • the purpose of the leave/reason for request: whilst not expected to make value judgements about requests, where an individual is requesting the leave for acute caring needs such as end of life care, departments are asked to give special consideration to the request
  • the individual’s length of service
  • the anticipated workload during the proposed absence
  • whether the change can be accommodated without adverse impact on the work of colleagues, the department, students, research sponsors, service users or any other relevant third party
  • the long-term plans for the department and the postholder’s role. For example, where an individual’s area of work may be planned for restructuring or review, this may be more difficult to manage if they are away from the workplace
  • the individual’s performance: for example, where an individual is being performance managed or under a warning, the procedure should be satisfactorily completed before a period of leave is agreed
  • the operational and strategic needs of the University including the need to retain key skills, knowledge, and experience: where an individual’s skills and experience are particularly important to the department it will be important to consider requests positively in order to facilitate retention
  • the department’s ability to cover the post on a temporary basis during the absence, and the potential for returning to the same, or similar, post at the end of the requested break
  • any additional costs caused by the absence: requests are subject to agreement and operational constraints and in some cases it will not be possible to cover additional costs of training a replacement for a temporary post
  • issues of fairness and equality within the broader team and department
  • the notice given by the employee
  • any previous career breaks taken by the individual during their University employment.

The above list is non-exhaustive and other factors may influence decision making.

Where the arrangement proposed cannot be accepted for operational reasons, possible alternatives should be considered and discussed with the individual before a final decision is reached. Where a request cannot be agreed the reason will be set out in writing to the applicant, and the Head of Department’s decision will be final.  A further request cannot be made for 12 months.