Leave for Domestic and Personal Reasons
- Medical appointments
- Bereavement leave
- Parental Leave and Paternity/Partner's leave
- Adoption leave
- Carers' leave
- Leave for urgent and other domestic crises
- Religious and cultural observance
- Time off to visit relatives abroad
1.1 The aim of this document is establish a clear procedure for requesting and agreeing leave for domestic and personal reasons in order to ensure consistency of approach in line with employment legislation and UCL Qatar's commitment to good employment practice.
1.2 The provisions within this procedure are not exhaustive and if any requests for special leave fall outside this document, managers or employees should refer the matter to the HR Director.
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 leave, leave of absence and sabbatical leave for academic staff, can be found here.
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 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.
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.
3.6 The travel costs incurred will be borne the employee.
4.1 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 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 Director for advice.
4.2 Where both parents work for UCL Qatar, 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 Qatar cannot undertake paid employment with any other employer, during the period of parental leave. Pension payments will be suspended during periods of unpaid parental leave.
4.3 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 Director for monitoring purposes.
4.4 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 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 HR web pages or can be obtained in printed form from the HR Director.
4.5 Paid leave of up to 20 working days may be taken in the period from 3 months before the expected week of confinement to 3 months after the date of birth by the mother's partner (or the date of adoption in the case of adoptive parents). When requesting this leave, the individual should provide their manager with appropriate documentation confirming the expected date of birth or adoption. There is no service requirement for entitlement to this leave provision.
5.1 Any employee who has been approved as an adoptive (or Qatari equivalent) 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 Qatar maternity leave agreement. Employees applying for adoption leave should inform their Line Manager 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.
5.2 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.
5.3 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.
5.4 The partner of someone adopting a child is entitled to 10 days paid paternity/partner's leave. An adoptive parent may also apply for 3 months' (13 weeks') unpaid parental leave (see section 4 above).
6.1 Employees, regardless of length of service, may request 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. 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. 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?
6.2 Carers' leave will be granted to all employees, regardless of length of service. The procedure 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
6.3 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 procedure applies
6.4 Staff have a wide range of caring responsibilities and are entitled to receive Carers' leave for the following:
- Illness 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.).
6.5 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 Director.
Applying for Carers' leave
6.6 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.
6.7 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 Director.
Extended Carers' Leave
6.8 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.
6.9 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 Director about temporarily reducing their hours of work, or other adjustments as an alternative to taking a complete break from work.
6.10 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 pension 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 Qatar's interests and those of the employee.
6.11Members 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 Qatar.
7.1 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
7.2 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 procedure. The HR Director should be contacted for advice in all such instances.
8.1 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.
8.2 All employees who have need 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.
8.3 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. All members of staff will be allowed a minimum of two weeks unpaid leave once in their UCL Qatar career to undertake religious or cultural observance.
9.1 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 with UCL Qatar 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.
9.2 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 3 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).
9.3 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.
HR Policy and Planning