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Leave for Domestic and Personal reasons

CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

The aim of this document is 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.

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 Consultancy team with responsibility for advising their department.

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.

Details of annual leave, sick leave, time off for members of staff who hold public office, leave of absence, leave for jury service and leave for Territorial Army training can be found in the terms and conditions for academic or research and professional services staff. Please see the relevant policy for details of other leave such as maternity leave, study leave and sabbatical leave.

2. MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS

Hospital, doctor, dental appointments

Hospital, doctor or dentist appointments if for part of a working day should not be counted as sick leave and therefore not counted for statutory 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.

Ante-Natal Care

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.

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.

Cancer screening

Members of staff will be granted time off for the purposes of cancer screening where they cannot make visits in their own time.

3. BEREAVEMENT LEAVE

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:

Employees may be granted up to 2 days paid time off following the death of an immediate close relative not listed above.

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.

If the employee has to travel to another country (e.g. where the funeral is to take place or where their family is) 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.

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. FERTILITY LEAVE/ IUI / IVF

UCL recognises the physical and emotional stress of undergoing fertility testing and treatment for assisted conception, and understands the impact this can have on employees.

For the purposes of the support available under this policy, a distinction has been drawn between the testing and treatment stages.

Investigation and testing

Wherever possible, appointments for the investigation of, and testing for, fertility problems should be arranged outside of normal working hours.  If this is not possible, individuals should try to arrange appointments so as to give minimal disruption to the working day and managers might want to discuss the use of flexible working arrangements to facilitate this. 

Where flexible working arrangements are not practical, time taken during working hours will be treated in the same way as for other doctor/hospital appointments and will be paid.  The dates and times of the appointments should be recorded by the department but not classified as sick leave. When requesting the time off, the individual should provide their manager with appropriate documentation confirming the appointment, where requested.

If an appointment requires a whole day's absence, this will be recorded as sickness absence in the usual way.

Treatment (IUI, IVF)

To support female employee’s undergoing treatment for assisted conception, up to 5 days of paid leave in any 12 month period may be taken, for the purpose of receiving and recovering from IUI or IVF treatment. 

If time off is required due to the side effects of treatment, this will be treated as sickness absence.  Sickness absence taken following implantation of a fertilised ovum that is related to the procedure itself, will not be counted towards the triggers in the Sickness Absence Policy.

Should an employee exhaust the time allowed under this policy, discussion with the individual will help to establish whether annual leave, sickness absence, any other type of leave or flexible working arrangements would be most appropriate to use.

Partners

Male or Female employees, who would like to take time off work to support a partner undergoing fertility treatment will be required to take annual leave. 

When a medical appointment is required as part of the treatment process, this will be treated in the same way as for other doctor/hospital appointments.

Other Support

Please see UCL Occupational Health website for other sources of information and support and access to the Employee Assistance Programme ‘Workplace Options’  

5. PARENTAL LEAVE and PATERNITY/PARTNER'S LEAVE

Parental leave

A parent (father, mother or other person who has acquired formal parental responsibility for a child, as defined in the Children Act 1989) who has one year's continuous service with UCL is entitled to apply for unpaid parental leave.
Current entitlements are as follows:

Child

Entitlement

For each child

18 weeks up to their 18th birthday

For each adopted child

18 weeks up to their 18th birthday or 5th anniversary of their adoption, whichever comes first

Nb these first two entitlements increased on 8 March 2013 from 13 weeks to 18 weeks

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 6 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.

Where both parents work for UCL, both parents can apply for leave under this provision. 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 normally undertake paid employment with any other employer, during the period of parental leave and the employment contract with UCL continues during the period of parental leave. Superannuation payments will be suspended during periods of unpaid parental leave.

Procedure

Employees should apply in writing to their head of department/manager giving as much notice as reasonably possible, but at least 21 days before the date they wish their leave to begin. The employee should give the following information when requesting leave:

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 for each individual child in any one year. The dates of parental leave will be approved by the employee's manager, subject to service needs. The manager may exceptionally require an employee to postpone their parental leave for a period of up to six months, if the needs of the service require them to do so. The exception to this is where the leave is to be taken immediately on the birth/ adoption of a child, or immediately after taking maternity or adoption leave. Factors which may require the manager to request the postponement of leave could include a peak workload or holiday period, others absent at the same time, the difficulty in finding a short term replacement or in covering the absence by other means. Within seven days of receiving the employee's request, the manager should notify the employee in writing of the request for postponement, including the reason and the alternative dates proposed. If the proposed alternative date starts or continues after the expiry of the eight-year limit, the employee still has the right to take parental leave.

Alternatives for time off

Key factors for consideration by the head of department/manager, are whether the parental leave should be required to be taken as a single block, in blocks of one week, or other configuration. Parental leave can be taken by the individual reducing their working hours on a temporary basis.

Consideration should also be given to whether the relevant child is disabled.

Managers are required to keep a record of parental leave taken by their staff and to submit it as a period of unpaid leave.

Paternity/Partner's leave

From 1st April 2013 the mother's partner may take paid leave of up to 20 working days (i.e. 4 working weeks). This can be taken any time from 3 months before the expected week of childbirth to 3 months after the actual date of birth (or the date of adoption in the case of adoptive parents). Paternity/partner's leave does not have to be taken at one time and can be spread over the 6 month period. An employee is required to notify their manager by the end of the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth or adoption (or, if that is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable) of their expected start date of paternity/partner’s leave. The individual should use this form to confirm the dates of paternity leave with their manager. The manager should sign off the form and forward this to the Human Resources Division who will process and record the leave.  When requesting this leave, the individual should provide their manager with appropriate documentation (a copy of the birth certificate or MAT B1 form or matching certificate) confirming the expected date of childbirth or adoption. There is no service requirement for entitlement to this leave provision.

Partners can include same-sex partners, they do not have to have registered under the Civil Partnership Act 2005.

Additional paternity leave

In addition to the periods of paternity leave detailed above, employees are entitled to between 4 and 26 weeks of leave, if their partner has returned to work without exhausting their period of maternity/ adoption leave.  The employee may also be able to transfer statutory pay not taken by their partner to be taken as additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP). If the partner has exhausted their period of statutory maternity/ adoption pay any leave transferred will be unpaid.

Eligibility

Additional paternity leave is available for the father or partner of the main carer of a child due on or after the 3rd April 2011. They must have the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child (apart from the main carer) and intend to care for the child during their additional paternity leave. There is no qualifying length of service for additional paternity leave.

An employee will be eligible for additional statutory paternity pay if they have had at least 26 weeks' service at the Notification Week (15th week before the expected week of childbirth) provided that the average earnings are above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions. 

Timing of additional paternity leave

The leave must start no earlier than 20 weeks after the baby is born or in case of adoptions 20 weeks after the child is placed. The main carer’s maternity/adoption leave must have ended before any additional paternity leave begins. All additional paternity leave must be used within a year of the birth or adoption date.

Paternity Pay

An employee is eligible to transfer statutory maternity/ adoption pay if their partner returns before receiving a maximum of 37 weeks statutory pay. The remaining pay would then be transferred to the partner who is taking additional paternity leave. Both partners will receive a maximum of 39 weeks statutory pay between them.

Keeping in touch days

Employees and their managers can agree up to 10 'Keeping in touch' days during a period of additional paternity leave. During these days an employee may attend work, undertake training or keep in touch with work developments through other means without bringing the period of leave to an end. Either the Line Manager/Head of Department or the employee can suggest the use of this facility but they must be agreed by the Line Manager/ Head of Department. Keeping in touch days will only be agreed when they are in UCL's interest and the day can be structured to ensure that it is used productively. Employees will be given time off in lieu (in the form of additional annual leave) for any keeping in touch days worked.

Example

Leave

Pay

Process

Any employee wishing to take additional paternity leave must give 8 weeks’ notice of wishing to do so. When applying for additional paternity leave an employee must complete and submit two written declarations, one from themselves and the other from their partner who is the main carer and taking maternity or adoption leave. Evidence must also be provided (either a copy of the child’s birth certificate, a copy of the MAT B1 form or confirmation of adoption). See maternity forms. Once completed and signed the forms must be sent to the appropriate contact in HR Employment Contract Administration .

6. ADOPTION LEAVE

Any employee who has been approved by the Adoption Agency or Social Services Department as an adoptive parent qualifies for adoption leave, although this does not apply when an individual adopts their partner's natural child(ren). 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 agreement. Prospective adopters will also qualify for leave to attend adoption meetings with the primary carer being entitled to request paid leave to attend up to five appointments  and  the primary carer’s partner being entitled to request unpaid leave to attend up to two such appointments. Employees applying for adoption leave should inform their Head of Department in writing, giving as much notice as possible that they have been agreed as an adoptive parent. The employee will be required to submit a copy of their matching certificate which will be provided by their adoption agency. 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.

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.

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.

The partner of someone adopting a child is entitled to 20 days paid paternity/partner's leave (see section 4 above).

An adoptive parent may also apply for 18 weeks unpaid parental leave (see section 4 above).

7. SURROGACY

The birth mother of a child will be covered by the same provisions as outlined in the maternity policy. Any employee 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 in the adoption leave policy. They will not be eligible for statutory adoption or maternity pay. Documentary evidence of the surrogacy agreement, and the expected date of childbirth by the surrogate mother, will need to be provided to your Employment Contract Administration team contact.

8. FOSTERING

Where an employee fosters on a regular basis or is a 'professional' foster carer they are not entitled to the adoption leave agreement or the paternity/partner's leave 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. CARERS' LEAVE

Legislative background

The Employment Rights Act 1999 (ERA) gives a right to every employee, regardless of length of service, to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work "to take action which is necessary" to help when a dependant gives birth, falls ill or is injured or assaulted. A "dependant" in this context means spouse or civil partner, partner (including same-sex partner), child or parent of the employee or any member of the employee's household who is not their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder. Where time off is to take necessary action to help when a dependant falls ill or is injured or assaulted, the definition extends to "any person who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance" on such an occasion. That means an individual for whom the employee is the only person who can help - for example, an elderly neighbour with no relatives or other neighbours, who is living alone and who falls and breaks a leg. In all cases, the right is limited to the amount of time that is reasonable in the circumstances of the particular case. In most cases, whatever the problem, one or two days will be the most that is needed to deal with the immediate issues and sort out longer-term arrangements if necessary.

Who is eligible for Carers' leave?

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

Staff may be granted up to 5 days Carer's leave with full pay within any 12 month period. They may be granted up to a further 5 days unpaid leave per year. This will not affect annual or sick leave provisions and staff are not required to exhaust their annual leave before special leave is granted.

When the Carer's Leave policy applies

Staff have a wide range of caring responsibilities and are entitled to receive Carers' leave for the following:

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

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.

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

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 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. Before such leave can be granted, managers will need to ensure that they can cover the employee's workload.

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.

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.

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. LEAVE FOR URGENT AND OTHER DOMESTIC CRISES

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:

Leave for Other Domestic Crises

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. RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL OBSERVANCE

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.
The Equality Act, states that work requirements would generally be unlawful if they have a disproportionately adverse effect on particular religous groups and cannot be shown to be justifiable.

All employees who have needs for time off for religious or cultural observance will be entitled to request the following:

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. TIME OFF TO VISIT RELATIVES ABROAD

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.

For this purpose, up to 6 weeks annual leave may be accumulated by transferring annual leave from the preceding leave year. Employees must however take a minimum of 28 days leave every year (including bank holiday and closure leave). 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).

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. REQUESTING TIME OFF TO TRAIN

UCL is committed to the continuing professional development (CPD) of all employees. This section provides the framework by which employees who have completed 6 months service can request to take time off to undertake training relevant to their current role. This incorporates UCL's statutory responsibility to consider requests for time off to undertake training.

Continuing professional development is expected and encouraged of all UCL employees and employees must undertake a minimum of three learning events per annum. Relevant training is discussed and agreed as part of the appraisal and development of all UCL employees. These events are undertaken by an employee as part of their normal working day and will be paid.

The Study Assistance Scheme contains provision for financial support for UCL staff to undertake work related study and also the possibility of allowing limited paid time off. Employees are encouraged to look at the eligibility criteria for the scheme and apply if appropriate before considering the procedure below.
There may be occasion when an employee wishes to undertake additional study or training which has not been agreed through the above routes or in discussion with their manager. The employee may make a request to take a period of leave to undertake the desired training. The training should be related to the role in which they are employed and must have a positive impact on their effectiveness within the department. Any time off for training agreed under the procedure below will normally be unpaid and employees will also need to meet the costs of the training. Employees who request to take unpaid leave to undertake training must do so voluntarily and should consider the potential financial implications of their choice.

Employees can make a request for time off for training by writing to their line manager/Head of Department. They should set out:

Procedure to be followed by a manager receiving a written request for time off to undertake training

13.1 Within 28 days of receipt of the application, the manager will normally arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss the request, unless there is sufficient information in the application whereby the manager may approve the request without holding a meeting. The employee is entitled to be accompanied at the meeting by a work colleague or UCL trade union representative. If their companion is unable to attend the meeting, the employee can postpone the meeting to a more convenient date. Where the postponed date is reasonable and is within five working days, the manager will agree to the postponement.

13.2 The meeting will provide the manager and the employee with the opportunity to discuss the desired training and period of time off in depth and consider how it might be accommodated within the department.

13.3 The Human Resources Consultancy team can provide advice and assistance to managers in considering requests.

13.4 There may be exceptional occasions where the procedure cannot be followed within the specified time limits. For example, a manager may need extra time to speak to another employee who is on holiday, about whether they could work the hours left uncovered by the employee's requested time off. Extensions of time limits must be in agreement with both the manager and the employee and the manager must make a written record of the agreement. The written record must specify the period the extension relates to, the date on which the extension is to end, be dated and sent to the employee.

13.5 Where an application is sent to the manager and the manager is absent from work due to leave or illness the matter shall either be referred upwards within the Department or Division, or an automatic extension will apply. The period that the manager has to arrange the meeting will commence either on the day of the manager's return or 28 days after the application is made, whichever is sooner. On the manager's return, the employee's application must be acknowledged in order to make the employee aware of the extension that has been applied and the date on which they can expect the meeting to take place.

Decision

13.6 Once the manager and the employee have discussed the request, the manager must notify the employee of the decision and confirm this in writing within two weeks following the date of the meeting.

13.7 Managers shall only refuse an application for one or more of the following reasons:

Request Accepted

13.8 If a request is accepted, the notification must include a description of the training and the dates on which the training will take place. The manager must keep a copy of confirmation of agreeing the request and record the period of time as unpaid leave.

Request Rejected

13.9 If a request is rejected, the notification must state the ground/s for refusing the application, provide a sufficient explanation as to why the ground/s for refusal applies in these circumstances, provide details of the employee's right to appeal and be dated. The manager must keep a copy of the notification that the request is rejected and forward a copy to the Human Resources Division. The decision should be consistent with the discussion that has taken place during the meeting.

Appeal

13.10 Where an employee believes that their request has not been properly considered, they may appeal against the decision.

13.11 An appeal must be lodged within 14 days of receipt of the decision to reject the application. The employee must set out the grounds for their appeal in a dated letter to the Director of Human Resources.

13.12 Within 14 days of the Director of Human Resources receiving the notification of appeal from the employee, a meeting to hear the appeal will be held. The Appeal Panel will be appointed by the Director of Human Resources and will comprise three employees who have not previously been involved in the case, one of whom will be a trade union representative1. A member of the HR Consultancy Team will act as secretary to the panel.

13.13 The employee is entitled to be accompanied at the meeting by a work colleague or UCL trade union representative. If his/her companion is unable to attend, the employee can postpone the meeting to a more convenient date. Where the suggested time is reasonable, the senior manager must postpone the meeting.

13.14 The HR Division will advise the employee of the decision of the appeal in writing, within 14 days of the appeal meeting.

Appeal Upheld

13.15 If the appeal is upheld the written decision must be dated and include a start date for the training which has been agreed.

Appeal Refused

13.16 If the appeal is refused, the written decision must set out the reason for refusal in this case and provide a sufficient explanation of the grounds for the decision. A copy of the notification will be held on the individual's HR file. The Appeal Panel's decision shall be final.

14. MONITORING OF THE POLICY

The HR Division will monitor the implementation of this policy and 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 pretenses will be considered serious and could result in disciplinary action.

Updated HR Policy and Planning
May 2014


1Not from the Trade Union recognised to represent either party involved in the appeal.