Leave for Domestic and Personal reasons
This Policy is only applicable for those staff employed in UCL Australia
- Medical appointments
- Bereavement leave
- Compassionate Leave
- Parental Leave and Paternity leave
- Adoption leave
- Carers / Personal leave
- Leave for urgent and other domestic crises
- Religious and cultural observance
- Time off to visit relatives abroad
- Monitoring of policy implementation
1.1 The aim of this document is to establish a clear policy for leave for domestic and personal reasons in order to ensure consistency of approach in line with employment legislation and UCL's commitment to good employment practice.
1.2 The provisions within this policy are not exhaustive and if any requests for special leave fall outside this document, managers or employees should refer the matter to the HR team with responsibility for advising their department.
1.3 Where specific levels of provision are quoted in this document, these should be adjusted on a pro-rata basis for part-time employees where appropriate.
1.4 Details of other leave such as annual leave, sick leave, maternity (parental) leave, leave of absence and sabbatical leave for academic staff, time off for members of staff who hold public office and leave for jury service can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/UCL Australia/conditions_service_res_sup.php and www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/UCL Australia/conditions_service_acad.php.
2.1 Hospital, doctor or dentist appointments if for part of a working day should not be counted as sick leave and therefore not counted for sick pay. Such appointments should be arranged out of working hours if at all possible or so as to give minimal disruption to the working day. Time taken during working hours for the above appointments will be paid and the dates and times of the appointments should be recorded by the department but not classified as sick leave. When requesting leave, the individual should provide their manager with appropriate documentation confirming the appointment where appropriate. When the appointment requires a whole day's absence, this will be recorded as sickness absence. Appointments relating to surgery or dentistry for cosmetic purposes should be arranged outside working hours or taken as annual leave.
2.2 An employee who is pregnant and is receiving ante-natal care on the advice of a registered practitioner has the right to paid time off with pay for the appointment. The individual should provide evidence of the appointment and (following the first appointment) produce a certificate stating that she is pregnant.
2.3 Paid leave for parenthood classes is at the manager's discretion. If classes are not available out of normal working hours, requests for such leave should be considered favourably. Post-natal care and fertility treatment should be treated the same as hospital, doctor and dental appointments.
2.4 Members of staff will be granted time off for the purposes of cancer screening where they cannot make visits in their own time.
3.1 Bereavement leave applies regardless of length of service. Employees may be granted up to a total of 5 days paid time off following the death of any of the people listed below:
- own child
- next-of-kin or nominated next-of-kin
- partners (including same-sex partners)
- parents of partner, if the employee is responsible for funeral arrangements
3.2 Employees may be granted up to 2 days paid time off following the death of an immediate close relative not listed above.
3.3 These provisions are not meant to limit the manager's discretion as each request for such leave will need to be judged on the circumstances of the cases. For example some people may have been raised by their grandparents, aunt/uncle, brother/sister and therefore a longer leave period would be in order.
3.4 If the employee has to travel to another country (e.g. where the funeral is to take place or where their family are) this may be extended up to a further 5 days paid time off (i.e. a maximum total of 10 days). Such cases will be treated individually according to the distance to be travelled.
3.5 Where appropriate, employees may be granted up to 1 day's paid leave to attend a funeral of a close friend or other relative. Managers will be sympathetic to individual requests for annual leave to cover other contingencies relating to a bereavement.
4.1 Employees are entitled to 2 days paid compassionate leave for each occasion, when a member of the immediate family or household contracts a personal illness or sustains a personal injury that poses a serious threat to their life.
Purpose and Application of Parental Leave
5.1 The purpose of parental leave is to enable parents to care generally for their child(ren). Parents may use it to spend more time with their children and strike a different balance between their work and family commitments. The reasons for leave need not be connected with the child's health unlike Carers' leave outlined in section 9 below. In case of any disagreement between the employee and the manager as to which leave should apply, the manager will consult the HR Division for advice.
5.2 Parental Leave is unpaid and superannuation payments will be suspended during periods of parental leave.
5.3 Where an employee changes employers, and s/he had requested or part taken parental leave at their former employer, s/he may continue to take this at UCL. Managers are required to keep records of all parental leave taken by their staff and to forward copies of the written confirmation of periods of parental leave, to the HR Division for monitoring purposes.
5.4 If an employee takes parental leave and subsequently no longer has responsibility for care of the child, UCL may provide 4 weeks notice requesting the employee to return to work.
5.5 On return to work from parental leave, the employee is entitled to return to his/her prior position or if the position no longer exists, a position for which s/he is qualified and suited nearest in status and pay.
Ordinary Parental Leave
5.6 A parent (father or other person who has acquired formal parental responsibility for a child) who has one year's continuous service with UCL Australia is entitled to take 12 months' unpaid ordinary parental leave within 12 months of the date of birth. Paid annual leave or long service leave can be taken during parental leave without breaking the parental leave period. The mother should take her legislative entitlement to parental leave through the provisions of the maternity leave policy because this allows for pay during this period.
5.7 Where an employee plans to takes less than his/her 12 month entitlement to parental leave but subsequently decides to increase the period of leave, s/he must request the change to the end date by providing four weeks notice before the end of his/her parental leave.
12 month extension to Ordinary Parental Leave
5.8 An employee may request a 12 month extension of unpaid parental leave immediately following the end of the ordinary parental leave period. This request must be in writing to the line manager at least 4 weeks before the end of the ordinary parental leave. The line manager will provide a written response no later than 21 days of the request stating whether the extension has been granted or refused, and if refused, reasons for refusal. Refusals may only be made on reasonable business grounds.
5.9 Where both parents are employed by UCL Australia, the extension request must state the amount of parental leave or maternity leave the other parent has taken or will have taken before the proposed extension start date. The period of extended parental leave granted will be less any parental or maternity leave already taken by the other parent.
Additional Parental Leave
5.10 If the employee takes less than 13 weeks of parental leave within 24 months of childbirth, a parent can request additional unpaid parental leave, up to13 weeks in total or 18 weeks in total for parents of disabled children (including that taken in the first two years). This leave is to be taken in the period up until the child's eighth birthday, or where the child is disabled, up to their 18th birthday. Where the child was placed with the employee for adoption, this can be taken until the eighth anniversary of the date on which the placement began, or the child's 18th birthday, whichever is the earlier.
5.11 Where both parents work for UCL, both parents can apply for additional parental leave. There is a separate entitlement for each child (including multiple births). For part-time employees, leave entitlement will be calculated on a pro rata basis. An employee taking parental leave from UCL cannot undertake paid employment with any other employer, during the period of parental leave.
5.12 Additional parental Leave will be taken in blocks of time agreed with the individual's manager in light of the nature of the individual's work and up to a maximum of four weeks in any one year. The dates of parental leave will be approved by the employee's manager, subject to service needs. The employee should give as much notice as possible (at least 21 days notice) of their request for parental leave. The manager may exceptionally require an employee to postpone their parental leave (except where it is planned to be taken at the birth or adoption of a child) for a period of up to six months, if the needs of the service require them to do so. The procedure by which staff can apply for parental leave can be found on the www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/ or can be obtained in printed form from the HR Division.
5.13 Paid leave of up to 10 working days may be taken in the period from 3 months before the expected week of childbirth to 3 months after the date of birth by the mother's partner (or the date of adoption in the case of adoptive parents). Paternity leave does not have to be taken at one time and can be spread over the 6 month period. When requesting this leave, the individual should provide their manager with appropriate documentation confirming the expected date of childbirth or adoption. There is no service requirement for entitlement to this leave provision.
5.14 Partners' can include same-sex partners.
6.1 Any member of staff who has been approved in South Australia under an Adoption Order as an adoptive parent qualifies for adoption leave, although this does not apply when an individual adopts their partner's natural child(ren), the child has lived continuously with the employee for 6 months or more or is over 16 years of age. The adoptive parent who is the main carer is entitled to the same provision in terms of service requirements, pay, amount of leave, return to work etc. that they would have received under the UCL maternity leave policy.
6.2 Where no other leave can be taken for this purpose, an employee is entitled up to 2 days (to be taken as one or split periods) to attend interviews or examinations required to obtain approval for adoption of the child. The employee should request the leave from their manager, who may require evidence of the interviews/ examinations.
6.3 A staff member will be required to submit a copy of the Adoption Order. Adoption leave can start anytime from the date that the adopted child is placed, or at an earlier date up to fourteen days before the date of the placement. The child must be under 16 at the start of the placement.
6.4 If the child's placement ends during the adoption leave period, the adopter will be able to continue adoption leave for up to eight weeks after the end of the week in which the placement stops. Payment of adoption pay continues for this eight week period, or until the end of the employees statutory adoption pay period if that is sooner.
6.5 Where both adoptive parents work for UCL, only one parent can be granted adoption leave although consideration may be given for the entitlement to be shared.
6.6 The partner of someone adopting a child is entitled to 10 days paid paternity leave. S/he may also apply for unpaid parental leave (see section 5.1 above). The procedure for applying for leave relating to adoption can be accessed www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/ or obtained in hard copy from the HR division.
7.1 The birth mother of a child will be covered by the same provisions as outlined in the maternity policy. Any member of staff who is the intended main carer of a child born from a surrogate mother is entitled to the same provision in terms of service requirements, UCL adoption pay, return to work etc as outlined above (Adoption Leave - section 6). Documentary evidence of the surrogacy agreement, and the expected date of childbirth by the surrogate mother, will need to be provided to your departmental contact in the Human Resources Operations team.
8.1 Where an employee fosters on a regular basis or is a ‘professional' foster carer they are not entitled to the adoption leave agreement or parental leave, other than in exceptional circumstances. In the case of a request under these circumstances the manager will consult with the HR Division for advice.
9.1 Personal leave covers the provision of sick leave and carer's leave. 10 days of personal leave will be accrued progressively through a year with a maximum of 10 days (less any sickness or carer's leave taken in the leave year1) being carried forward to the following leave year or indefinitely if not taken. There is no limit to the amount of paid carers' leave which can be taken each year providing this does not exceed the total accrued personal leave. There is an additional entitlement to 2 days unpaid carer's leave for each permissible occasion (see 9.2).
Who is eligible for Carers' leave?
9.2 An employee is entitled to carer's leave if a member of their immediate family or household requires care or support because of a personal illness or injury or an unexpected emergency.
9.3 Carers' leave will be granted to all employees, regardless of length of service. The policy applies to all staff who have caring responsibilities for dependants such as
- employee's own child(ren)
- next of kin or nominated next-of-kin
- parents/parents of partners
9.4 An employee can use their full entitlement to 10 days personal leave for carer's leave purposes, providing they have not used any of this entitlement for sickness.
Application of Carer's Leave
9.5 Staff have a wide range of caring responsibilities and are entitled to receive Carers' leave for the following:
- Illness or injury of anyone dependent on the employee where their situation requires the employee to look after them;
- Unforeseeable breakdown of normal caring arrangements for any of the above (e.g. sick childminder, closure of school, nursery, day centre or other regular form of provision);
- Accompaniment of a dependant to a GP, dentist, clinic or hospital;
- Attendance at appointments concerning the welfare and care of above (e.g. child guidance, making arrangements for resettlement of people in long-term sheltered accommodation/nursing home/psychiatric care etc.).
9.6 This list in not exhaustive, and special leave may be granted for other purposes which fall under the spirit of this agreement. Advice is available from the HR Division.
Applying for Carers' leave
9.7 Where an unforeseen situation arises, the employee should contact their manager as early as possible to inform them of the problem and request leave. Where an employee has to accompany someone to a planned appointment, they should give their manager as much notice as possible.
9.8 In the event that a manager is concerned at the level of leave being applied for and where they have reason to believe that the employee's dependant may not be sick, they can require the employee to provide a medical certificate. There may be a charge for this, for which the employee will be reimbursed where they have met the cost. Where a problem arises, the manager should seek advice from the HR Division.
Extended Carers' Leave
9.9 Employees must normally have a minimum of one year's service with UCL before being considered for extended Carers' leave. On occasion, staff may require extended carers' leave to look after someone who is recovering from a serious illness or who is terminally ill. In these cases, managers may grant the member of staff paid time off up to 10 days (20 days in exceptional circumstances) in one leave year, and additional unpaid leave up to a combined period of 6 months in total. In such circumstances, the individual would not be granted both Carers' leave and extended Carers' leave. Any personal leave accrued at the end of the year will be reduced by any Carer's or extended Carer's leave taken within that year. Before such leave can be granted, managers will need to ensure that they can cover the employee's workload.
9.10 Any situation where a member of staff requires more than 6 months off will be considered sympathetically and practical, feasible alternatives considered, such as flexible hours and/or working at home. Staff should be counselled by their manager in consultation with the HR Division about the possibility of job-sharing their post or temporarily reducing their hours of work as an alternative to taking a complete break from work.
9.11 Where hours are reduced on a temporary basis the individual's salary would normally also be reduced but UCL would maintain the full employer's superannuation contribution where the employee is prepared to maintain the full employee's contribution. Ultimately, any decision to grant further unpaid leave will turn on the balance of UCL's interests and those of the employee.
9.12 Members of staff wishing to apply for extended Carer's leave should apply in writing to their manager in the first instance. Employees will be asked to obtain a medical certificate and where there is a charge for this, it will be paid by UCL.
10.1 Employees can request leave in circumstances of urgent domestic crises which are not covered by any of the other policies in this document. Some examples would be:
- vehicle theft
- vehicle accident
- emergency repairs to home or services arising from or to avoid flooding or fire In such circumstances, employees will normally be granted one day's leave with pay. Employees should contact their manager when the incident occurs.
Leave for Other Domestic Crises
10.2 At times, employees may experience personal difficulties which can be extremely stressful, e.g. relationship breakup, re-possession of home, bankruptcy, redundancy of a partner etc. Managers should deal with requests for such leave with discretion as each case will need to be judged on the individual circumstances. In cases where staff have experienced domestic violence or where a manager suspects that a member of staff has experienced domestic violence, it is imperative that managers deal with the issues in a sympathetic and confidential manner so that staff feel able to request leave in line with this policy. The HR Division should be contacted for advice in all such instances.
11.1 There are some employees who have particular needs for time off in relation to religious and cultural observance. This may be on a daily or weekly basis for a small number of staff, but more often, will involve requests for a day off for a particular religious or cultural occasion.
11.2 Good practice suggests that work requirements should generally not have a disproportionately adverse effect on particular racial groups unless this can be shown to be justifiable.
11.3 All employees who have needs for time off for religious or cultural observance will be entitled to request the following:
- flexibility in the arrangement of shifts, rotas and working hours generally;
- annual leave, flexi-days or unpaid leave.
11.4 Managers will be sympathetic to requests on these grounds and will try to accommodate them, wherever it is reasonably practicable to do so, subject to the needs of the service.
12.1 It is recognised that some employees have close relatives abroad whom they may wish to visit for an extended period. In such circumstances, an employee with twelve months service may apply to take an extended period of leave (of up to a maximum of six weeks in one year) subject to the requirements of the service.
12.2 Up to 6 weeks annual leave may taken for this purpose, using any accumulated annual leave. Employees are however encouraged to take a minimum of 2 weeks annual leave every year. Where an employee has not accumulated sufficient annual leave to take an extended holiday, they may be granted up to one month's unpaid leave to add to paid leave which has been accumulated, (to a maximum of 6 weeks in total).
12.3 The employee should advise their manager in writing 6 months in advance of their request to take extended leave and give approximate dates. Permission to take extended leave would not normally be granted more frequently than once every three years. Should such permission be granted, the manager will confirm this in writing to the employee.
13.1 The HR Division will monitor the implementation of this policy and reserves the right to amend this policy from time to time. Any member of staff who feels that the policy is not being applied consistently should contact the Director of HR. The abuse of this policy by any member of staff obtaining leave under false pretences will be considered serious and could result in disciplinary action.
HR Policy and Planning
Updated January 2010