Compassionate leave

Compassionate leave applies to all employees, regardless of length of service, including those on fixed-term and part-time contracts. It does not, however, apply to individuals who are self-employed e.g. contractors and consultants and it does not apply to individuals paid via the claims payroll. While there is no contractual right to compassionate leave, the University aspire to be a good employer which provides support to its staff when they need it. The purpose of the these guidelines is to ensure that compassionate leave is granted in a fair and equitable manner across the University, at the same time recognising that compassionate leave arrangements need to be flexible to meet individual circumstances.

For example, some staff may need to travel long distances or the period of time they need to be away from work may not be immediately clear.

In addition, the University needs to meet its statutory obligation to allow staff to take reasonable (unpaid) time off to deal with sudden emergencies involving a dependant (and to make any necessary longer term arrangements). The University’s approach towards compassionate and emergency leave recognises the importance of this flexibility.

The basic provision is a period of up to two days' paid leave (depending on location and circumstances) in the event of the death or serious illness of a close relative or other person whether related or not who plays a significant part in the life of the member of staff, which may only be taken following consultation with senior management. Consideration may be given to how close the relationship is. A close relative, for example being interpreted as:

  • Spouse/ Partner;
  • Mother/Father and Mother-in-law/Father-in-law, Stepmother/Stepfather;
  • Brother/Sister and Brother-in-law/Sister-in-law, Step Brother/ Step Sister;
  • Children/Step Children;
  • Grandparents or Grandchildren

In the case of bereavement, factors such as the extent of the individual's involvement in making funeral or other arrangements (eg executor) and the need to travel beyond the local region should be taken into account. When an employee's own health is considered to be adversely affected by bereavement a short period of sick leave might be more appropriate.

Compassionate leave should not be confused with the statutory right to Emergency leave- time off for dependants to deal with sudden emergencies which is unpaid.

In exceptional circumstances, compassionate leave may be extended by some unpaid leave, parental leave or annual leave by agreement with senior management and (to ensure consistency) Human Resources. Work patterns may also be amended temporarily to assist the individual to meet such responsibilities.

Records of compassionate leave (and emergency leave) should be retained by the College/Service. If the employee is a Tier 2 visa holder, records should also be passed to the HR Business partner to comply with UKBA record keeping requirements.

Emergency leave

Time off for dependants

All members of staff have a statutory entitlement to reasonable unpaid time off work to deal with sudden emergencies involving a dependant and to make any necessary longer term arrangements.

Who is a dependant?

A dependant is defined as a

  • spouse or
  • child or
  • parent or
  • a person living in the same household as the member of staff, such as a partner, elderly aunt or grandparent.
  • It does not include tenants, lodgers or boarders.

In certain circumstances a dependant may also be someone who reasonably relies on the member of staff for assistance. This could be an elderly relative who lives nearby where the member of staff is the primary carer or the only person who can help in an emergency.

In what circumstances can emergency leave be taken?

You will be entitled to time off to deal with the following types of emergencies:

  • a dependant falls ill, is injured or assaulted, or gives birth
  • childcare or other care arrangements unexpectedly break down
  • longer term care arrangements need to be made for a dependant who is unexpectedly ill or injured
  • your child is involved in an unexpected incident during school hours

Emergency leave does not include longer term care requirements, such as childcare or long term illness of a sick relative. In these circumstances you will be expected to use annual leave or flexible working arrangements.

How much time off does this allow?

There is no set amount of time off, but the amount of time off work should be reasonable in the particular circumstances of the emergency. It should be sufficient to deal with the immediate problem and to arrange alternative longer term care if necessary. It is anticipated that one or two days will be the most that is needed.

However, this policy does provide an extension of compassionate leave by use of annual leave or unpaid leave or additional paid compassionate leave in certain emergency situations, by agreement with senior management and Human Resources.

How much notice do I need to give?

As soon as is reasonably practicable, you should notify your College Dean, manager or supervisor (or in accordance with the usual College/Service procedure for notification of absence) of the reason for your absence and keep them informed of the likely duration of this absence.

You should ensure that you discuss your absence with your College Dean or manager as soon as is reasonably practicable upon return to work. It must be agreed whether the time off is with pay (ie taken as annual leave or additional paid compassionate leave); without pay; or if the time will be made up.  Any unpaid leave must be notified to your HRBP as soon as possible so that salary adjustments can be made.