NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy/procedure statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.
New policies/procedures will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.
Reviewed policies/procedures will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.
If a policy/procedure is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy/procedure review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes.
NHS Fife recognises that many staff balance the demands of work requirements with domestic responsibilities. While each member of staff is responsible for ensuring that they have appropriate care mechanisms in place to meet their personal responsibilities, NHS Fife endeavors to assist in circumstances where these arrangements have unavoidably broken down, or where additional pressures, outwith the norm, arise and for which time off work may be required.
All requests from staff must be dealt with on a strictly confidential basis and no undue pressure will be exerted on staff to divulge details which might breach their personal privacy.
This policy applies to all employees of NHS Fife.
The responsibility for the application of the policy rests with Line Managers and HR staff within NHS Fife.
4. LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Employment Rights Act 1996
This Act provides for the right to time off for a variety of different reasons, for example, public and civic duties, ante-natal care, care of dependants and parental leave. Parents and carers of children under 17, and of disabled children under 18, and carers of certain adults, may request flexible working arrangements and their employers have a duty to seriously consider such requests.
5. OPERATIONAL SYSTEM
The purpose of this policy is to allow for an appropriate response to a variety of situations, including:
- The necessary and unexpected need for a member of staff to provide care to a spouse or civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives within same household or any other person who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance on any occasion where the person falls ill or is injured or to make arrangements for the provision of care in the event of illness or injury;
- Suffering a bereavement;
- Civic and public duties
This could be where normal arrangements break down without notice, or where an urgent and unforeseen situation arises.
Examples of this include:
- The spouse or Civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives within the same household (not a lodger) falling ill, being involved in an accident, or being assaulted, including instances where the victim is distressed rather than being physically injured;
- The need to make longer term care arrangements for a spouse or civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives within the same household (not a lodger) who is ill or injured;
- To deal with the death of a spouse or civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives within the same household (not a lodger), eg to make funeral arrangements, or to attend a funeral;
- To deal with an unexpected disruption, or breakdown, in care arrangements for a spouse or civil partner, child, parent, or a person who lives within the same household (not a lodger), eg when a child-minder/carer or nurse fails to turn up; or
- To deal with an incident involving the employee’s child during school hours, eg if the child has been involved in a fight, or is being suspended from school.
The provisions of this policy are applicable to all staff, irrespective of length of service, hours of work, or grade and no employee will suffer any detriment as a result of making application for time off under these provisions.
As always, the extent and duration of such leave must be balanced by service needs. It is acknowledged that there will be occasions where requests relate to situations which are entirely unforeseen and this will be borne in mind when requests are considered.
6. Time Off
The provisions for time off are as follows:
i) Serious illness/Bereavement Leave
Up to one working week’s paid leave in the event of a serious illness, acute need or death of a family member, dependant, close friend or colleague. This can be extended by up to a further working week and it will be at the discretion of the manager whether this is extended and whether it is paid or unpaid.
ii) Domestic Emergencies
Up to one working week can be allocated as paid leave to deal with urgent and predominately unforeseen circumstances to which sick leave, annual leave, or any other form of specified leave is not applicable. This can be extended by up to a further working week and it will be at the discretion of the manager, taking into account the circumstances of the specific case and the needs of the service, whether this is paid or unpaid.
iii) Carer Leave – Short and Long Term
This provision is primarily for those who are required to provide care for a dependant.
Short term Carer Leave allows for up to one working week’s paid leave, which can be extended by up to a further working week of paid or unpaid leave, to deal with urgent unforeseen care needs. Thereafter and depending on the specific circumstances, a manager may agree a period of annual leave, or unpaid leave.
Long Term Carer Leave allows for the possibility of altering contractual work patterns to enable the employee’s family life and work requirements to be balanced for an appropriate period.
Note: The references above to a “working week” mean the number of hours that an individual member of staff is contracted to work. For example, the working week of a member of staff contracted to work 37 ½ hours per week, is 37 ½ hours, while the working week for a member of staff contracted to work 20 hours per week, is 20 hours.
7. Serious Illness/Bereavement Leave
To provide reasonable support to members of staff at times of distress due to the unforeseen serious illness, or the death, of a spouse or civil partner, child parent or a person who lives within the same household (not a lodger).
Managers have the discretion to award paid leave of up to one working week in each occurrence of serious difficulty. In particularly distressing circumstances, the manager, in discussion with an appropriate member of the HR Team, may extend this by up to a further week of paid or unpaid leave.
7.3 Duration Criteria
In considering the amount of leave, the manager should take into account the specific circumstances, eg the relationship between the member of staff and the person in question, whether the member of staff has a responsibility for the estate of the deceased, the availability of other relatives or friends and the distance to be travelled in dealing with such matters.
Managers should aim to be fair, consistent and sympathetic in applying this policy.
Members of staff must make their manager aware of the potential need for leave at the earliest opportunity and should keep in regular contact throughout that period.
7.6 Record Keeping
Leave should be recorded on the appropriate record system for future reference and to enable monitoring of its fair application throughout NHS Fife. It must also be notified to Payroll Department to ensure appropriate payment and recording.
8. Domestic Emergencies
Leave under this heading can be defined as arrangements granted when members of staff need to be absent from work under circumstances not covered by sick leave, annual leave, bereavement leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, adoption and fostering leave, or flexible working arrangements. It is urgent and unforeseen.
This leave is provided as a short-term solution to help members of staff to balance the demands of their work and home responsibilities.
Up to one working week can be allocated as paid leave by the manager, taking into consideration the amount of the time reasonably required to attend to the situation which has arisen.
In cases of exceptional difficulty, the manager can extent this period for up to a further working week and, in discussion with an appropriate member of the HR Team, has the discretion to determine whether this should be on a paid or unpaid basis. It may, however, be considered appropriate for the member of staff to utilise annual leave under circumstances where the situation, while still important, has ceased to be an emergency.
In exceptional circumstances, a member of staff may be faced with long-term difficulties and the manager, in discussion with an appropriate member of the HR Team, should consider other options to assist in the situation. This may include a reduction in hours, an alteration to the employee’s shift pattern, a move to another post, etc.
There should be no requirement for the approved number of days to be taken in one block.
Members of staff must make their manager aware of their potential need for leave at the earliest opportunity and should keep in regular contact throughout this period.
8.4 Record Keeping
Leave must be recorded in the appropriate record system for future reference and to enable monitoring of its fair application throughout NHS Fife. It must also be notified to Payroll Department to ensure appropriate payment and recording.
9. Carer Leave
Where members of staff are responsible for caring for a spouse or civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives within the same household (not a lodger) work and home life can cause conflicting pressures. Carer leave is designed to encourage managers to adopt flexible working practices at times when employees need assistance to balance their caring responsibilities with their work commitments.
As recorded in 6 (iii), Short-term Carer Leave allows for up to one working week’s paid leave, which can be extended by up to a further working week of paid or unpaid leave, to deal with urgent unforeseen care needs. Thereafter and depending on the specific circumstances, a manager may agree a period of annual leave, or unpaid leave.
9.2 Local arrangements
The needs of staff who care for spouse or civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives within the same household (not a lodger), can often be very simple, eg knowing that they will be able to leave work on time each day, or be able to make a telephone call home during the day to check that all is well. Alternatively, a variation in the working pattern, such as altered shifts, or earlier / later starting and stopping times, may provide an adequate solution.
Needs such as these may be relatively easy to satisfy and it is expected that the individual’s manager will provide sympathetic support and strive to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the employee’s requirements that balances these with the needs of the service.
9.3 Short periods of time off
There may be circumstances when an employee needs a short period of time off, eg to deal with an emergency situation, to attend hospital, etc. In these circumstances, one of the arrangements shown in Section 5 can be utilised to allow the employee time off.
9.4 Long-term arrangements
There may, however, be times when the caring demands on the employee are such that the individual is forced to consider more extreme measures, such as a long-term reduction in working hours, in order to meet their caring commitments.
Whilst each case must, quite obviously, be judged on its individual merits, NHS Fife is committed to ensuring that where the reason for an employee requesting a reduction in contacted hours is for the provision of care, the individual’s case will be considered sympathetically and will not be unreasonable denied.
Employees with caring responsibilities, who recognise the need to alter their contracted working hours on a long-term basis, should discuss the matter with their manager in the first instance. It may be considered appropriate for a member of the HR Team to be involved in these discussions.
Where the manager feels unable, because of the needs of the service, to agree to the employee’s request, the employee should contact an appropriate member of the HR Team in order to investigate other alternatives, eg secondment, redeployment, etc. Under circumstances where it is agreed that redeployment is an option, the employee concerned will be entitled to the full range of provisions available under NHS Fife’s Redeployment Policy.
9.5 Other assistance
Employees with caring responsibilities are encouraged to take advantage of other facilities which already exist within NHS Fife and which may provide them with support or access to coping mechanisms, eg stress management initiatives, the Occupational Health Services who can arrange access to counseling, etc.
10. Other Types of Special Leave
Another type of special leave is where NHS Fife is required to make available special leave with pay for staff to be absent from work to perform “essential civic and public duties”.
The legislative requirement for this is contained within the Employment Rights Act 1996 and covers a wide range of circumstances, a number of which are given below as examples:
- Justice of the Peace;
- Attendance at court as a witness;
- Members of a variety of public bodies including Children’s Panels.
This list is illustrative, not exhaustive.
Up to one working week per year can be allocated as paid leave by the manager taking into consideration the amount of time reasonably required to devote to the issue.
In exceptional circumstances the manager can extend this period for up to a further working week and in discussion with an appropriate member of the HR Team, has the discretion to determine whether this should be on a paid or unpaid basis. It may, however, be considered appropriate for the member of staff to utilise annual or unpaid leave.
NHS Scotland is pleased to support employees who are members of, or wish to join, the Volunteer Reserve Forces. The training undertaken by Reservists enables them to develop skills and abilities that can be of benefit not just to the armed forces, but also to the NHS patients they serve. The NHS Scotland Reserve Forces Training & Mobilisation Policy has been developed, in line with legislation, to enable NHS Scotland and its employees to get the maximum benefit from time spent in the Reserve Forces. http://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/mels/CEL2009_42.pdf
Whilst NHS Fife is under no legal obligation to pay employees who undertake jury service, any staff who are called to fulfil the role of a juror will be paid their normal basic pay with enhancements for unsocial hours. Further information on Jury Service is available: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/coming-to-court/jurors
Members of staff must make their managers aware of the potential need for leave at the earliest opportunity and, where appropriate should keep in regular contact throughout the period.
10.4 Record Keeping
Leave should be recorded on the appropriate record system for future reference and to enable monitoring of its fair application throughout NHS Fife. It must also be notified to Payroll to ensure appropriate payment and recording.
10.5 Resolution of Disagreements
No request for leave under this policy will be unreasonably withheld. Should a disagreement arise, the individual has the right to raise a formal grievance. It may be preferable in such circumstances, however, for the manager to seek advice on resolving the matter from an appropriate member of the HR Team and a Trade Union/or Professional Organisation representative.
11. Risk Management
This policy will be reviewed every three years to ensure compliance with relevant and appropriate employment legislation.
12. Related Documents