Information

NHS Scotland Once for Scotland workforce policies - work-life balance: consultation

The NHSScotland 'Once for Scotland' Workforce policies programme is designed to review and transform existing workforce policies (previously known as Partnership Information Network (PIN) Policies). This consultation focuses on the refreshed supporting the work-life balance suite of policies.


4. Special Leave Policy

4.1. Aim

4.1.1. To provide a supportive and person-centred response where everyday arrangements break down, or urgent and unforeseen situations arise, such as:

  • the sudden and immediate need to provide care to a family member, a dependent, a close friend, or a colleague
  • the death or serious illness of a family member, a dependent, a close friend, or a colleague
  • emergencies or unexpected domestic situations

4.1.2. In addition, the policy provides child bereavement leave, time off to undertake civic and public duties, and attending specialist clinical appointments.

4.2. Scope

4.2.1. This policy applies to all employees.

4.2.2. This policy complies with current legislation and meets the aims of the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act 2010

4.3. Definitions

4.3.1. A carer is someone who has responsibility for a family member, partner, friend, or another individual who relies on the employee.

4.3.2. Civic and public duties are activities that contribute to society. Examples of essential civic and public duties that need a statutory entitlement to request planned leave in advance include:

  • jury service
  • armed forces reservists
  • and children's hearings

4.3.3. A domestic emergency is an unplanned situation in the home, such as a flood or fire.

4.3.4. An emergency or unexpected situation is when an employee needs to take unplanned time off. Examples include:

  • an employee's child has an accident at school
  • a dependent has an accident in a care home

4.3.5. Planned leave is when an employee requests leave in advance, largely for civic and public duties.

4.3.6. Unplanned leave is when an employee requests leave at short notice to respond to an emergency or unexpected situation.

4.3.7. This list is not exhaustive.

4.4. Roles and responsibilities

4.4.1. There is a range of standard expectations which underpin all policies. Read more about standard roles and responsibilities. In addition, the following specific responsibilities apply to this policy.

4.4.2. Manager

4.4.3. The manager should:

  • apply the policy in a fair, consistent, and sympathetic way
  • maintain confidentiality at all times and not place pressure on the employee to share sensitive information
  • discuss with the employee if a flexible approach to the working hours or shift length could provide the necessary time off
  • record the agreed leave on the appropriate systems

4.4.4. Employee

4.4.5. The employee should:

  • advise their manager of the situation as soon as possible
  • consider if a flexible approach to the working hours or shift length could provide the necessary time off
  • keep in regular contact with their manager during special leave
  • attempt to make alternative arrangements, such as when childcare plans break down, to allow the employee to return to work as soon as possible

4.5. Procedure

4.5.1. When employees become aware of a situation requiring special leave, they should contact their manager by telephone unless they have agreed to other arrangements. They should also:

  • contact their manager as soon as possible, as the need to request special leave could occur before or during the working day
  • use a third party to report their absence only in exceptional circumstances, where it is not practicably possible for them to do so themselves
  • keep in touch with their manager during the period of absence

4.5.2. In these circumstances, the manager and employee should discuss the following:

  • reason for requesting special leave
  • likely duration of absence
  • expected return to work date
  • arrangements for keeping in contact during the absence

4.5.3. The manager should also:

  • make arrangements to cover the work of the employee as necessary
  • update the appropriate systems
  • keep in touch with the employee during the period of absence

4.5.4. Situations where the manager may grant paid special leave and the amount of leave typically given are detailed in the following documents:

  • Guide for managers [guide to help managers use and understand the Special Leave Policy]
  • Guide for employees [guide to help employees use and understand the Special Leave Policy]

4.5.5. These guides outline the entitlements to special leave under NHS terms and conditions. However, there may be exceptional situations where the manager considers it reasonable to offer time off for other purposes. The manager should consider the reason for the employee's leave request while ensuring fairness and consistency with other employees.

4.5.6. A manager should not unreasonably withhold an employee's request for special leave. Should a disagreement arise, the employee has the right to raise matters under the Grievance Policy. It may be appropriate for either party to seek advice on resolving the matter from HR colleagues or a trade union representative. They should seek early resolution wherever possible.

4.5.7. Related policies:

  • Flexible Work Pattern
  • Career Break
  • Parental Leave

4.6. Supporting documentation

It is proposed that the supporting documents listed below will be developed to support the policy. Supporting documents are not part of the consultation. These will be drafted following the consultation when responses have been analysed and the policy is developed in a final draft.

Employee guide

Descriptor: guide to help employees use and understand the Special Leave Policy. This will include examples of situations where special leave may be granted as well as the amount of leave typically given.

Manager guide

Descriptor: guide to help managers use and understand the Special Leave Policy. This will include examples of situations where special leave may be granted as well as the amount of leave typically given.

Special leave policy flowchart

Descriptor: visual and text alternative flowcharts outlining the key steps in the Special Leave Policy.

4.7. Consultation questions

We are inviting responses to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation hub. The following questions are set.

In your response, all questions have the option to answer yes or no. You are invited to provide further comment in a free text box. If you wish to make specific reference to a section of the policy, please quote the relevant numbered line in this consultation document.

1. Do you feel there are any gaps in the policy?

2. Do you feel there are any gaps in the proposed list of supporting documents?

3. Do you have any other comments to make on the policy?

4. Do you have any views on the potential impacts of this policy on equalities groups?

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. These are protected characteristics under the Equality Act, 2010.

Contact

Email: Lynn.Hunter@gov.scot

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