Authorised leave policy

1 Introduction

Purpose

1.1 The purpose of the authorised leave policy is to provide guidance on:-

• entitlement to annual leave
• the types of leave which may be authorised
• the amounts of leave which may be approved
• the correct procedures to follow when requesting the leave.

1.2 This policy does not address maternity, adoption, surrogacy leave or shared parental leave, the Management of Absence Policy or the flexi-time scheme.

1.3 This policy intends to support our values, a work life balance, the local community and help us become an employer of choice.

Scope

1.4 This policy applies to all employees of the Housing Ombudsman.

1.5 For the purpose of this policy, employees are as defined in section 230 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 or any substituting or amending legislation.

Content

1.6 There are a number of different ways in which an employee may take authorised leave of absence:

• Annual Leave and Public Holidays
• Bereavement Leave
• Emergency Care for Dependants
• Special Leave
• Longer-Term Unpaid Leave
• Election Duty
• Employee Representation
• External Secondments
• Jury Service
• Medical, Dental, Optical and Hospital Appointments
• Parental Leave
• Paternity Leave
• Post Entry Training
• Public Duties
• Territorial Army Compulsory Training
• Time off to Look for Work in a Redundancy Situation
• Trade Union Duties

Status of Leave

1.6 Apart from the situations set out in Sections 2 and 3, leave granted under the other sections of this Policy will not affect an employee’s annual leave entitlement.

Requesting Leave

1.7 An employee must apply to their manager to take a period of annual leave.

1.8 An employee requesting other authorised leave, as set out in 1.6, should apply for the appropriate leave via their Manager.

1.9 Unauthorised absence from work will not be paid and action may follow under The Housing Ombudsman’s Disciplinary Policy.

2 Entitlement to Annual Leave

Leave year

2.1 The Housing Ombudsman operates a calendar annual leave year arrangement (1 April – 31 March) commencing on the first day of employment. Employees will therefore receive the entitlement set out below in their first year of service, pro –rated.

Entitlements

2.2 Staff will receive the following annual leave (bank/public holidays are in addition to the entitlements detailed below):

Grade Up to 5 years’ service 5 years’ service and over
Management grades 27 30
Other grades 25 27
Bank/Public Holidays

2.3 Employees receive additional paid leave to reflect the bank holidays which fall in the calendar leave year. This is usually 8 days (pro-rata for part-time or compressed working week employees), but can vary depending on the bank holiday calendar.

Part-time & Compressed Working Week employees

2.4 Annual leave and long service leave are applied to part time and compressed working week employees and job sharers pro rata to the hours they work.

2.5 Part-time & compressed working week employees will receive pro-rata entitlement to paid leave in respect of Bank/Public Holidays. This will be based on contractual hours and reflected in the annual leave entitlement for the year.

Long Service

2.6 The additional leave after five years’ continuous service will be pro-rated for the first year in which long service is met.

Breaks in Service

2.7 For the purposes of annual leave entitlement only, one break in service of up to 12 months will not break continuity. Entitlement will be calculated on the period of continuous service immediately prior to the break.

Christmas Closure

2.8 The Housing Ombudsman offices are closed during the Christmas period. The closure commences on Christmas Day. Services re-open on 2nd January or on the first working day thereafter. Days that are not bank/public holidays during this period are granted in addition to the entitlements detailed in 2.2.

Carry over of leave

2.9 It is the employee’s responsibility to take their leave in the year it is due. Staff can carry over up to the equivalent of a week’s leave; the number of days/hours will vary depending on the employee’s contractual working week. Exceptions to this are detailed later on in the Policy.

Annual leave and Maternity/adoption absence

2.10 Prior to starting maternity/adoption leave, employees must discuss, with their line manager when their annual leave will be taken. Normally annual leave should be taken within the calendar leave year(s) in which the maternity/adoption leave falls.

2.11 Where, due to maternity/adoption leave it has not been possible to take accrued annual leave, the outstanding leave will carry forward to the following leave year.

2.12 Employees on maternity/adoption leave accrue bank holidays which fall during their maternity/adoption leave period.

2.13 Employees should plan, with their line manager, how any outstanding annual leave accrued in paragraph 2.10 and 2.11 will be taken over the course of the following leave year.

3 Arrangements for Annual Leave

3.1 All requests for annual leave must be made via their Line Manager and agreed prior to the leave being taken. An employee who is requesting leave while absent on sick leave must contact their manager to obtain approval. The manager will then update the employee’s record.

3.2 Leave will be granted subject to the needs of the service and can only be taken with the prior agreement of an appropriate line manager. Requests should therefore be submitted in advance, and as soon as practically possible.

3.3 If for service reasons, the request for leave cannot be agreed, managers should inform the employee as soon as practically possible.

3.4 Managers should however ensure that employees are not unreasonably prevented from being able to take the leave due to them in their leave year.

3.5 Leave requests in excess of three continuous weeks require the approval of the employee’s Director and should be made in writing. When considering such requests, the manager will take into account the individual’s personal circumstances, which must be balanced against the needs of the service.

3.6 An employee’s contractual leave entitlement includes statutory annual leave. When an employee applies and takes leave, it is the statutory 4 weeks’ annual leave which is taken first followed by the remaining contractual leave.

3.7 If for any reason an employee expects to be late in returning from an agreed period of leave, they must notify their line manager as soon as possible. Failure to do so, and/or circumstances where the reason for the late return is not considered reasonable by the line manager, may be regarded as unauthorised absence.

Reporting sickness whilst on annual leave

3.8 Employees who fall sick during annual leave must follow the correct procedure for reporting sickness absence as set out in the Management of Absence Policy. The employee will be regarded as being on sick leave providing the absence is covered by a doctor’s certificate.

3.9 Where an employee is sick whilst on annual leave overseas, they should follow the procedure for reporting sickness absence as stated in the Management of Absence Policy.

Accrual of Leave during Sickness Absence

3.10 An employee’s entitlement to their contractual annual leave continues to accrue during periods of sickness absence.

3.11 If an employee is unable to take their annual leave because they have been absent on sick leave, they are entitled to take that leave at another time. Where there is sufficient time left within the current personal leave year, the leave should be taken within that leave year. If there is insufficient time within the current leave year, the leave will be carried forward and must be taken within the next 12 months of the end of the leave year in which it accrued.

3.12 The Housing Ombudsman reserves the right to require an employee to carry forward any untaken annual leave, due to sickness, into the next leave year where there are good business reasons for doing so.

Requesting leave during sickness absence

3.13 Employees are able to request annual leave during periods of sickness absence. Where, this is agreed, the employee will receive pay in accordance with their annual leave entitlement during this period, rather than the sick pay which would otherwise have been due.

When employees leave the Housing Ombudsman

3.14 Employees who leave the Housing Ombudsman should take any annual leave owing to them prior to their last day of service. Where, in exceptional circumstances, it has not been possible to take all accrued leave by this date, the employee will be paid for any outstanding annual leave.

3.15 When an employee leaves part way through the leave year, annual leave is calculated at 1/12th of entitlement for each completed month of service.

3.16 If an employee has taken more leave than they have accrued at the date of termination, a deduction to account for this will be made in the final salary. Calculation of the accrued leave, to which the employee is entitled, will include all contractual leave from the start of the leave year until the date of termination and any bank holidays which occurred during that period.

4 Bereavement Leave

4.1 Employees are entitled to request:

• up to 2 working weeks’ paid leave in connection with the death of a spouse, civil partner, partner, parent or child.

• up to 3 working days’ paid leave in connection with the death of a sister, brother, grandparent or grandchild but this may be extended to 1 working week at the discretion of their Line Manager.

• up to 3 working days’ paid leave in connection with the death of a spouse’s, civil partner’s or partner’s immediate relative, for example, parent, brother or sister or where the employee is the sole next of kin of the deceased.

5 Emergency Dependency Care Leave

5.1 An employee who has taken leave in order to provide emergency care for a dependant may apply retrospectively for emergency dependency care leave.

5.2 The employee’s line manager must be informed of any such absence at the earliest opportunity.

5.3 Paid leave of up to one day will usually be granted, although any awards of emergency dependency care leave in the preceding 12 months will be taken into account in determining whether it is appropriate to grant the request.

5.4 Where an employee is applying for more than one day’s emergency dependency care leave in any 12 month period, they will be expected to match any request with their own leave (e.g. annual/flexi leave).

5.5 Examples of emergency dependency care leave are as follows:

• To care for a sick dependant or to provide assistance when a dependant is injured
• To make arrangements for the provision of care for an ill or injured dependant, for example, to accompany a sick dependant to hospital or to the doctor’s in an emergency situation

• Because of the unexpected disruption or termination of care arrangements of a dependant
• To deal with the death of a dependant
• To deal with an incident that involves their child and occurs unexpectedly whilst the dependant is at an educational establishment.

5.6 A dependant is defined as:

• A spouse, civil partner or partner
• A parent or child
• A person to whom the employee is sole next of kin
• A person to whom the employee stands in loco parentis
• Any other person who would reasonably rely on the employee for assistance if they fall ill, are injured or who would rely on the employee to make arrangements for the provision of care in the event of illness or injury.

6 Other Special Leave

6.1 An employee is entitled to request up to 3 days’ paid special leave in the event of the serious illness of a relative. Any unused flexi leave must be used before applying for such leave.

6.2 An employee who wishes to apply for special leave for exceptional reasons must submit their application to their line manager. The line manager should discuss the request with HR before providing a response. If the request is granted the leave may be paid or unpaid and the employee may be expected to match any paid time off with their own leave.

7 Longer-Term Unpaid Leave

7.1 Employees may wish to apply for longer periods of unpaid leave for a variety of reasons (e.g. career break, sabbatical, personal development, provision of support / longer-term care, course of study).

7.2 Such leave requests are likely to be of between 3 and 12 months’ duration.

7.3 There is no entitlement to longer-term unpaid leave. An employee must make any request to The Housing Ombudsman, who will consider each case on its merits. Requests will be considered entirely at the Ombudsman’s discretion and are unlikely to be granted where this would have a detrimental effect on the needs of the service.

7.4 Employees do not receive or accrue any annual leave during a period of longer-term unpaid leave.

7.5 A period of longer-term unpaid leave is likely to affect an employee’s pension arrangements. Where an employee takes unpaid leave for 30 days or less pension contributions continue to be made. As a result, there is no break in pensionable service and the employee’s pension remains unaffected. Where an employee takes unpaid leave for more than 30 continuous days, pension contributions will be affected. The individual has the right to repay the employee contributions, relating to the missing period of service, when they return to work. This can be done by making a payment to the pension fund, either in a lump sum or by monthly instalments.

7.6 An employee who is intending to take a period of unpaid leave should consult the Housing Ombudsman’s pension administrator, for advice about the possible effects on their pension.

8 Election Duty

8.1 The Housing Ombudsman encourages employees to take an active role in elections as part of public duties. Time off for election duty should not unreasonably be refused by the employee’s line manager.

8.2 Employees who take up the role of Presiding Officer, Poll Clerk or Polling Station Inspector at elections will receive paid time off for the day in addition to any fee they may receive for this work.

9 Employee Representation

9.1 An employee may request a reasonable amount of paid time off work to accompany a work colleague at a disciplinary, grievance or appeal meeting. Approval must be sought from their line manager, prior to taking time off for this purpose.

9.2 Time off for trade union representatives to represent employees is addressed at section 16.

10 Jury Service

10.1 The Housing Ombudsman is legally obliged to release an employee from work to attend jury service. Individuals may apply to the court to be excused from jury service on the grounds that this absence would be likely to cause “substantial injury to their employer’s undertaking.” Compelling evidence is normally required for the employee to be excused.

10.2 Where an employee is called for jury service they should contact their line manager to request time off work. An employee must provide a copy of the court summons.

10.3 An employee will continue to be paid whilst on jury service at their normal contractual rate of pay, subject to the deduction of any monies received from the court in respect of loss of earnings.

10.4 If, on any day, the employee’s services are not required at court they must attend work.

10.5 Similarly, an employee who is discharged from the court during any part of any day is expected to return to work or work from home, wherever practicable and should contact their line manager to confirm their availability.

11 Medical, Dental, Optical and Hospital Appointments

11.1 The Housing Ombudsman recognises that employees will, from time to time, need to attend medical, dental, optical and other similar appointments. Wherever possible an employee should arrange these appointments in their own time, for example, outside of core hours, as flexi-time, by varying their hours or shift pattern by agreement with their line manager or making appointments during periods of annual leave.

11.2 However, the Housing Ombudsman accepts that it is not always possible to arrange a medical or similar appointment outside working hours and, therefore, reasonable time off work to attend such appointments can be requested. The Housing Ombudsman will try to be flexible in enabling employees to attend appointments but it is expected that employees will make up the time or take annual leave / flexi-leave as appropriate.

Where an employee is going to attend an annual health check provided by HOS we will facilitate this time off without the need for taking flexi time or annual leave.

11.3 Employees are entitled to request paid time off work to attend:

• an eye sight test which has been arranged under the policy for display screen equipment
• “Well Man” or “Well Woman” screening e.g. NHS screening programme such as cervical smear tests, mammogram
• a medical appointment which relates to a disability which has been declared to HOS

11.4 In these circumstances, an employee must obtain approval from their line manager in advance of the appointment. The employee’s line manager has the right to ask them to re-schedule an appointment if the timing would cause disruption to the department’s business. The line manager may ask the employee to produce an appointment card.

Time off to attend ante-natal appointments

Pregnant employees

11.5 Employees who are pregnant have a statutory right to reasonable time off work with pay for antenatal appointments. Paid time off in such circumstances will be granted although an employee’s line manager may request sight of her appointment card.

Employees accompanying a pregnant woman to an appointment

11.6 An employee who is in a ‘qualifying relationship’ with a pregnant woman has a statutory right to accompany her to ante-natal appointments.

11.7 The definition of a qualifying relationship covers the husband, civil partner, partner who is living with the woman, the father of the expected child, a parent of the expected child by virtue of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA) or a potential applicant for a parental order under the HFEA in respect of the expected child in surrogacy cases.

11.8 The right is to unpaid time off of up to six and a half hours on no more than two occasions.

11.9 The line manager may request that the employee makes a signed declaration that they are in a qualifying relationship with the woman and that they are taking the time off, on the specified date, to accompany her to an ante-natal appointment.

11.10 An employee who wishes to take unpaid time off, to accompany a pregnant woman to an ante-natal appointment, must make the request via their line manager.

11.11 The provisions of paragraphs 11.6 – 11.9 above also apply to agency workers who have been engaged for at least 12 weeks, and whose assignment is continuing.

Adoption Appointments

11.12 Prospective adopter parents have the right to time off for the purpose of having contact with the child or to attend adoption appointments and will not be expected to make this time up.

11.13 The main adopter will be able to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments.

11.14 The secondary adopter will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments.

12 Post Entry Training

12.1 Where staff wish to undertake post entry training they will be permitted to apply for one day paid leave per annum for exam purposes, where they can demonstrate the link to the qualification supporting the Business Values/Plan.

13 Public Duties

13.1 Where an employee holds a public office or public position they will be granted paid time off work, in accordance with the table below, to perform the duties associated with that position:

i. Acting as a Justice of the Peace Up to 12 attendances per year*
ii. Membership of a statutory tribunal, eg Employment tribunal Up to 12 attendances per year*
iii. Membership of a local authority, eg a Councillor Up to 12 attendances per year*
iv. A relevant education authority, eg a school governor Up to 4 days per year

13.2 * An attendance means leave of up to 1 day.

13.3 If additional attendances are required the employee may, with their line manager’s agreement, be able to take the time out of their annual leave entitlement or take unpaid leave or flexi for this purpose.

13.4 Where an allowance can be claimed for loss of earnings the employee must claim the allowance and pay this to the Housing Ombudsman.

13.5 Staff must declare membership of such bodies on the Staff Declaration of Interests form.

13.6 An employee is entitled to request a reasonable amount of unpaid time off for other public duties, as set out in s50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 or any substituting or amending legislation. An employee wishing to take this time should make an application to their Line Manager.

13.7 An employee, who has been granted paid time off for carrying out a Public Duty, is expected to return to work (wherever practicable) if their attendance has not been required for a whole day. Employees should contact their line manager to confirm appropriate arrangements.

14 Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve Forces Compulsory Training

14.1 The Housing Ombudsman will consider any request for leave related to the employee’s membership of the Territorial Army or Volunteer Reserve Forces. During any agreed period of training leave the employee will be paid at their full contractual salary rate for up to a maximum of 5 days per year. If a period of leave is agreed for longer than this period, the remainder will be unpaid or the employee may, at the line manager’s discretion, take annual leave or flexi.

15 Special Constables

15.1 An employee whose application to become a Special Constable, has been approved by both the Police Service and The Housing Ombudsman, is entitled to paid time off to attend the training course. Where the training course takes place on Sundays, the employee is entitled to paid time off in lieu for each day of training.

15.2 Following completion of the training scheme, employees are entitled to paid leave of up to one day per month (to a maximum of 12 days per annum) to perform their role as a Special Constable. Requests for leave must be made and approved by the employee’s line manager before the duty takes place. The manager needs sufficient notice of the leave request, normally one month, to ensure that the time off can be accommodated within the needs of the service.

16 Time Off To Look For Work in Redundancy Situations

16.1 An employee, who has been issued with notice of dismissal for redundancy, will be granted reasonable time off work with pay during their notice period in order to look for new employment or to make arrangements for training for future employment. All requests for time off must be agreed with the employee’s line manager.

17 Trade Union Representation

17.1 Representatives of trade unions recognised by the Housing Ombudsman are entitled to request to take a reasonable amount of paid time off for duties concerned with relevant negotiations and to meet and represent employees.

17.2 Representatives must provide their line manager with as much notice as is reasonably possible and provide full details (without breaching confidentiality) of why they are requesting the leave.