Special Leave Policy
Last Updated 4 Nov 2019 in Work Life Balance
The Society is committed to supporting colleagues and understands there may be occasions when you need time off for reasons that do not fall within the scope of other leave policies.
Special Leave Categories
The following types of leave are addressed within this policy:
Parental bereavement leave
Key points covered:
Procedure for taking special leave
About this Policy
The Society is committed to helping colleagues to achieve a positive work-life balance. We understand there may be occasions when you need time off for reasons that do not fall within the scope of other leave policies. This policy explains the types of leave available to deal with these different situations, specifically compassionate leave, medical appointments and public duties. For other types of leave not covered in this policy (e.g. annual leave, maternity/paternity leave etc) please refer to the relevant policy on Colleagues Connect.
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 who are eligible for special leave in accordance with this policy are expected to follow the guidelines set out in this policy. Colleagues should refer to the appropriate policy where leave is not covered in 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.
Special Leave Categories
The following types of leave are addressed within this policy:
The Society wants to support colleagues when they are affected by serious ill health and/or the death of someone close to them. Where this happens we encourage colleagues to speak to their line manager so they can ensure that colleagues are appropriately supported, and a period of compassionate leave can be agreed in line with the policy.
The Society allows compassionate leave where it relates to the following categories of people:
spouse or partner, child, stepchild, grandchild, parent, step-parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, brother or sister, stepbrother or stepsister, or brother or sister-in -law.
The amount of compassionate leave permitted is as follows:
1 days’ paid leave in order to attend a funeral, and
Up to five days paid compassionate leave in any 12-month period in respect of each relation (this includes any time needed to make funeral arrangements).
If additional time off is required, please let your manager know as the Society will do its best to accommodate requests, which may include agreeing additional time being taken as annual leave or unpaid leave. The Society will do its best to limit the impact of compassionate leave on a colleague’s pay.
We understand that your availability may sometimes change due to caring responsibilities. The Society has policies which assist colleagues who want to take additional time off work if they have caring responsibilities, please refer to the Carers Policy for more information.
Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay
We recognise that, while dealing with any bereavement is difficult, the death of a child is among the most devastating events that a colleague can ever face.
The Society is committed to supporting colleagues through their grief by ensuring they can take parental bereavement leave. Where this happens, we encourage colleagues to speak to their line manager so they can ensure that colleagues are appropriately supported, and where relevant line managers may seek further guidance from their designated HR advisor.
All colleagues who are affected by the loss of a child under the age of 18 or suffered a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy are entitled to two weeks statutory parental bereavement leave. This is applicable to all colleagues who have parental responsibility for the child (this includes an adoptive parent, prospective adopter, intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement, a parent "in fact" (someone looking after the child in that person's own home for the last four weeks), or that person's spouse, partner or civil partner, but not a paid carer).
In these circumstances, all colleagues will be paid at their normal rate of pay during the 2 week period of parental bereavement leave. This period of leave includes the Society compassionate leave entitlement outlined above and is not in addition to.
Parental bereavement leave may be taken at any time within 56 weeks of the death of a child. The leave can be taken as either two consecutive weeks, two separate blocks of one week each taken at different times or as individual days. This means colleagues can match their leave to the times they need it most, for example on the first anniversary.
Where more than one child has died or been stillborn, colleagues are entitled to a separate period of leave in relation to each child. Please note those colleagues that may have suffered a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or during maternity leave, will not lose their entitlement to maternity leave/pay. Please refer to the maternity leave, paternity leave and shared parental leave policies for more information on entitlement to leave and pay.
The Society understands notice of parental bereavement leave and/or pay may not be possible. The Society is keen to support any parents in this position, so colleagues should speak to their line manager or their HR advisor as soon as they feel able to do so.
Where colleagues are planning to take a period of parental bereavement leave between 8 weeks to 56 weeks after the child’s death, we ask colleagues to give their manager at least 1 weeks’ notice. Colleagues wishing to cancel or change the date of leave within the same period should also provide 1 weeks’ notice.
Please note all the terms and conditions of employment remain in force during parental bereavement leave. Colleagues will continue to accrue annual leave during parental bereavement leave. For details of how pension is treated during shared parental bereavement leave please contact the pensions office on 01926 516009.
If additional time off is required, colleagues should speak to their manager. The Society will do its best to accommodate requests, which may include agreeing additional time being taken as annual leave or unpaid leave. The Society will do its best to limit the impact of compassionate leave on a colleague’s pay. Colleagues will be appropriately supported on their return to work.
The Society recognises that colleagues will from time to time need to attend medical, hospital, dental, optician and other similar appointments. Whenever it is possible to do so, colleagues should endeavour to arrange such appointments in their own time. If that is not possible, appointments should be taken at times that will cause the minimum amount of disruption at work or inconvenience to the Society.
Colleagues are asked to provide their line manager with as much notice as possible of the appointment. Line managers will consider each request individually. That is to ensure the personal circumstances of the individual are taken into consideration as well as the needs of the business. We understand hospital appointments or appointments made on an emergency basis are often scheduled at times where the colleague cannot control. In such instances, and upon production of paper work confirming the appointment, the Society will allow the colleague reasonable paid time off during work hours to attend.
The Society reserves the right to require colleagues to provide evidence of any appointments that they are seeking to attend and may keep copies on file to evidence the appointments which have been taken.
Colleagues who need to attend personal appointments in relation to elective surgery, will normally be expected to work alternative hours or to take time off as part of their annual leave entitlement. Colleagues should discuss such appointments with their line manager or alternatively contact the HR Advisor for their business group.
The Society is committed to supporting colleagues who are transitioning in the workplace. Colleagues undergoing gender reassignment surgery should discuss in advance with their line manager how much time off their likely to need and the level of support required, or alternatively contact the HR advisor for their business group.
Medical Appointments Arranged by the Society:
There are some circumstances where the Society may require the colleague to undertake a medical examination at the Society’s expense. This may be because of the health and safety requirements of the particular role, or because the colleague is off work on grounds of sickness. Where required to attend an occupational health appointment the colleague will be allowed reasonable paid time off to attend.
Such a medical examination will usually be carried out by occupational health who will, once agreed with the colleague, provide the Society with a report so they can learn more about the colleague’s health. As a result of this appointment, the Society may ask for a written report from the doctor or Occupational Health Advisor. Colleagues have rights under the Access to Medical Reports Act and will be advised of these rights when the Society seeks permission to obtain this report.
Following receipt of the medical report, the Society will arrange a meeting to discuss the content of the report and the implications arising from it.
- Jury service
- Voluntary public duties
- Reserve forces duties
- Court appearances
The Society encourages everyone to play an active role in their local community and this may sometimes necessitate colleagues needing time off work. We wish to enable colleagues to perform any public duties that they may be committed to undertake and so will give them time off to do so where it does not conflict with the operational needs of our business. We are not legally obliged to grant paid leave for these purposes. The circumstances in which we are prepared to do so are set out below.
You should tell your line manager as soon as you are summoned for jury service and provide a copy of your summons if requested.
Depending on the demands of our business, we may request that you apply to be excused from or defer your jury service.
If you want to defer your jury service, you should address this directly with the Court Service using the process outlined in the jury summons paperwork which you receive from them. The Society may be able to provide you with a letter supporting any request which you make to defer jury service and you should speak to your Line Manager about this.
You will receive your normal rate of pay for time spent on Jury Service which means that you cannot claim for loss of earnings from the court. You should be able to reclaim expenses relating to travel and subsistence. You should apply to reclaim such expenses through the court process as the Society’s Expenses Policy does not apply to you while undertaking jury service.
Whilst on jury service you will be recorded as ‘Jury Service’ in Kronos.
Voluntary Public Duties
Colleagues are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to carry out certain public duties, including the following roles:
Magistrate or Justice of the Peace;
Councillor with your Local Authority;
Lay member in a statutory Tribunal;
Board of Prison Visitors or Prison Visiting Committee;
Relevant Health Body or Medical Trust;
Relevant Education Body such as a School Governor;
Relevant Policy Authority;
The Environment Agency;
If you are unsure whether a public service that you perform is covered by this policy you should speak to the HR advisor for your business group or contact the HR advice line.
As soon as you are aware that you will require time off for performance of a public service you should notify your line manager in writing, providing full details of the time off that is being requested and the reasons for your request. In order that arrangements can be made to cover your duties in your absence you should make your request in good time.
Each request for time off will be considered on its merits taking account of all the circumstances, including how much time is reasonably required for the activity, how much time you have already taken, and how your absence will affect the business. The Society reserves the right to refuse requests where it is unable to accommodate it due to the needs of the business. In the alternative, where it can be accommodated colleagues will be allowed to make up the time or take time off as annual leave.
In some exceptional circumstances, such as retained firefighter duties, it will not be possible to give advance written notice of a request for time off. In those circumstances, the colleague should speak to their line manager as soon as possible. The line manager will confirm how the time off will be addressed (i.e. whether it can be worked at another time, be taken as unpaid leave, or taken as annual leave).
Some types of public duties can be classed as Community Hours, please refer to the Community Volunteering Policy for further information or speak to your Line Manager in the first instance if you are unsure.
Reserve Forces Duties
The Society recognises the important role that the Auxiliary Forces have in supporting the full time armed services. If you join or have joined the Auxiliary Forces, you must tell your manager as soon as possible.
We are aware that colleagues who are members of the Reserve Forces (the Territorial Army, Royal Navy Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve or Royal Auxiliary Air Force) may be called-up at any time to be deployed on full-time operations and are expected to attend regular training.
The Society will support one week’s paid leave per year (in addition to existing paid holiday entitlements) to enable reservists to attend annual camp or training commitments. Any additional training time must be taken as part of your annual leave entitlement or unpaid leave, except in the event of a national emergency. All arrangements for leave must still be agreed at site level as far in advance as possible.
Please speak to your line manager as soon as you receive notification that you have been called up for duty, so that the Society can discuss and agree any necessary arrangements with you. Once your military service has ended you may submit a written application for reinstatement to your employment. This should be made by the third Monday following the end of your military service and you should notify us of the date on which you will be available to restart work.
During any period of duty with the Auxiliary Forces, your service with the Society will continue to accrue, and you will be able to return to the role which you performed prior to any periods of duty. If it is not reasonable and practicable to reinstate you into your role, we will offer you the most favourable alternative on the most favourable terms and conditions which are reasonable and practicable.
The Society also supports Reserves Day held each year. For those colleagues who work in roles where they do not have to wear a Society uniform and are in a non-customer facing role, such colleagues are permitted to wear their Auxiliary Forces uniform to work if they so choose. For colleagues who wear a Society uniform and are customer facing in their role, they will be expected to maintain Society uniform rules on Reserves Day.
The Society recognises that there are instances when colleagues might need to take time off work to appear in court, to give evidence on the Society’s behalf or because of personal legal matters.
If you are required to attend court, you should speak to your line manager as soon as possible in advance so that your request for time off can be considered. The Society will always seek to accommodate requests for time off where it is necessary for you to attend court.
If you receive a summons to attend court, please supply a copy of this to your line manager as soon as it is received so that your request for time off work can be considered.
Pay for time spent attending court
Whether you will be paid during your time in court will depend on the reason for your court attendance, as follows:
(a) Summons to attend court and/or giving evidence on behalf of the Society.
You will be paid your normal rate of pay so you cannot submit a claim through the court for loss of earnings. The court may reimburse you for certain expenses such as travel or subsistence if this the case, you should apply for reimbursement of these expenses through the court. Alternatively, the Society’s Expenses Policy will apply to you while you are attending court, so you should claim for these expenses in the usual way under the Society Expenses process.
(b) Giving evidence on behalf of yourself or someone else for a reason which is unconnected with the Society.
Whether you are paid or not depends on the circumstances, your Line Manager must speak to Colleague Relations in PSG for guidance on the Society approach. Where your time is unpaid, you may be able to claim for loss of earnings and expenses from the court, so you should address this with the court staff. Where possible, the Society will allow you to make up time or agree to requests for annual leave to cover the periods when you are attending court.
If colleagues 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 01926 516469.
The Society has partnered with GroceryAid to provide colleagues with a FREE confidential helpline service which provides expert counselling. For help and advice colleagues can contact the confidential 24/7 GroceryAid Helpline by calling 08088 021 122. A live webchat is also available here. There is also a wide range of guidance and support resources available at www.groceryaid.org.uk.
Special Leave Policy
Date of last review: