Career Break Policy
Last Updated 4 Nov 2019 in Work Life Balance
If you’re considering taking a break in your career with us, to study or travel perhaps, this policy will help you understand how it works and what you need to do to apply for a career break.
Key points covered:
- Who is eligible for a career break
- How long you can apply to take off
- How your pay and benefits are affected
- Returning to work after your career break
If you wish to apply for a career break, please complete and return the form that can be found on the final page of the policy.
About this Policy
The Midcounties Co-operative recognises that colleagues may wish to take a break from working in order to pursue other activities such as obtaining educational or vocational qualifications to enhance their future career aspirations, or to look after children or other dependents.
This Policy applies to all employees (whether employed on a full-time, part-time, fixed term or permanent basis). It does not apply to agency workers or self-employed contractors.
This Policy does not form part of any contract of employment and the Society may amend it at any time.
Who is Responsible for this Policy?
All colleagues are expected to follow the guidelines set out in this policy. Colleagues are encouraged to speak with their line manager in the first instance if they need assistance with this policy.
All managers must treat colleagues promptly, fairly and consistently in accordance with this policy. If managers require support or assistance, they should contact the relevant HR advisor.
To be eligible to apply for a career break, colleagues must have 2 years’ continuous service with the Society. Applications are accepted entirely at the Society’s discretion, and may not be made whilst off sick or whilst there is any pending disciplinary, performance or grievance issues or processes outstanding. Colleagues on maternity, paternity, flexible or adoption leave who wish to extend their period of leave may apply for extension under the Society’s family friendly leave policies.
Colleagues may apply for a career break of between 1 - 12 months. Where colleagues wish to request short periods of time away from work, they should also refer to the Annual leave Policy as an alternative to a Career Break.
Once a colleague returns from a career break no further applications for a career break may be made within a 2 year period from the date of return.
Making an application
Colleagues are encouraged to first discuss the career break they wish to take informally with their line manager before making a written application.
To apply, colleagues should then complete a Career Break application form and submit it to their line manager. This must be done at least eight weeks prior to the proposed date that the colleague wishes to commence their career break.
Once the form is received the line manager will discuss the request with the colleague. It is suggested that advice is sought from PSG, a meeting may be held if necessary and a HR advisor may be present.
If the request is denied, the line manager will explain the reasons for the refusal to the colleague and the Society will write to the colleague to confirm the decision. There is no right of appeal.
When a career break is agreed a letter outlining all the terms and conditions reached, i.e. date of return, schedule for keeping in contact, any paid or unpaid work that has been agreed to etc. will be sent to the colleague. Any failure to adhere to any of the terms and conditions will result in an investigation which may lead to disciplinary action including the termination of employment.
During the Career Break
All Society property must be returned e.g. Society car, laptop, mobile phone etc. unless specifically agreed with a senior manager. Any outstanding loans the colleague may have e.g. for season ticket or for the purchase of a bike, will need to be fully cleared. Colleagues would continue to be allowed the use of their colleague membership card to obtain discount but would not be entitled to ‘Colleague Thank You’ vouchers usually paid once per year.
During a career break continuity of all terms and conditions of employment will be suspended with the exception of continuity of service, which will continue to accrue. This means that throughout the career break, the colleague will receive no salary or wage payments, may not participate in any bonus schemes, will not accrue sick or holiday pay, and no payments will be made to the pension scheme during this time. However, colleagues will still be covered for death in service benefits.
Colleagues must obtain prior written approval from their line manager before undertaking paid/unpaid work for anyone else during their career break.
In the event that during a colleague’s absence their role within the Society is affected by reorganisation, restructuring or redundancy, every effort will be made to consult with the colleague as appropriate.
Contact During a Career Break
It is the colleague’s responsibility to maintain regular contact with their line manager at agreed intervals throughout their career break. It may be that the colleague attends, for example, monthly team meetings. It is also important to keep the Society informed of any changes to personal details during a career break.
The End of the Career Break
On return to work every effort will be made to allow the colleague to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions of employment which they enjoyed before the career break commenced. However this may not be possible depending on the role the colleague held within the Society and any changes that may have occurred during the period of the career break. In such instances we will try to find a similar job with similar terms and conditions of employment but no guarantee of this can be made. If a suitable alternative role is offered and rejected by the colleague, the Society reserves the right to terminate the colleague’s employment giving notice as required under the contract of employment. There will be no entitlement to a redundancy payment in these circumstances.
Prior to the colleague returning to work the line manager will identify any training needs to enable the colleague to continue their duties on their return to work and it by accepting the career break, the colleague must agree to participate in such training deemed necessary. Also prior to return to work the colleague and the Line Manager will meet, with support from the HR advisor if required, to fully brief the colleague. Any such training or meetings that take place during the career break will be paid for on the colleague’s return to work or on leaving if the colleague gives notice or is made redundant.
The colleague must ensure that they have taken all accrued holiday entitlement prior to the commencement of the career break; any not taken will be forfeited. No holiday pay can be paid in lieu of holiday taken.
Failure to return from a career break on the date agreed would be viewed seriously by the Society and following an investigation in line with the Society’s disciplinary procedure could result in the termination of employment.
Extensions or Early return
Requests to extend the agreed period of the career break must be made in writing at least eight weeks prior to the originally agreed end of the career break (or early as possible in the case of a short career break), so that these may be properly considered by the line manager. Unless any changes or variations are agreed in writing, the colleague is expected return to work on the original date agreed. Failure to do so would result in an investigation which may result in disciplinary action and ultimately the termination of employment.
If you have any questions regarding this policy or require additional support, you should speak to your line manager. Alternatively, you can contact the HR advisor for your business group, or contact the HR Advice Line on 0845 099 6000.
Career Break Policy
Date of last review: