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Leave for Domestic and Personal reasons



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.


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.


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.


Please refer to UCL Parental Leave policy.


Please refer to UCL Parental Leave policy.


Please refer to UCL Parental Leave policy.


Please refer to UCL Parental Leave policy.


Please refer to UCL Parental Leave policy.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.