Leave for other reasons

The guidelines on leave have been drafted to ensure that the benefits provided, and the language used to describe the benefits and their scope, do not inadvertently restrict those whose culture is not that of the majority, or exclude those in same-sex relationships from benefiting.  Departments should ensure that, in implementing the guidance, they do not unjustifiably discriminate between employees on these or other grounds.

Departments may grant additional leave (outside the scope of formal schemes such as family leave, annual leave, etc) in certain circumstances. The University does not attempt to prescribe centrally the amount of additional leave that might be appropriate in each individual case; departments have discretion to authorise such leave according to the circumstances of the individual concerned.

The Staff handbooks, section 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5 set out detailed guidance on a range of circumstances in which staff may need to seek to take leave.

The guidance below provides guidance on other circumstances where additional leave may be required.

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University arrangements

The statutory entitlement to time off for dependants

Under the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees who want to take time off for dependants are entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off during normal working hours, provided they tell their departmental administrator (or equivalent) of the reasons for the absence as soon as reasonably practicable and specify for how long they expect to be absent (this may be done retrospectively if necessary).

Leave can be taken:

  1. to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted
  2. to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured
  3. in consequence of the death of a dependant
  4. because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant
  5. to deal with an incident which involves a child of the employee and which occurs unexpectedly in a period during which an educational establishment which the child attends is responsible for him.

The term "dependant" is defined, in relation to an employee as:

  • a spouse or civil partner
  • a child
  • a parent
  • a person who lives in the same household as the employee, other than by reason of being their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder

For the purposes of (1) or (2) above, dependant also includes any person who reasonably relies on the employee:

  • for assistance on an occasion when the person falls ill or is injured or assaulted, or
  • to make arrangements for the provision of care in the event of illness or injury.

For the purposes of (4), dependant also includes any person who reasonably relies on the employee to make arrangements for the provision of care.

Employees may complain to an Employment Tribunal if they are denied leave or dismissed or subjected to a detriment for taking leave. If there are any queries on entitlement to this type of leave, therefore, departments are asked to contact their HR Business Partner for further information.


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For guidance on Pilgrimage see ‘Leave for Religious Reasons

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Students of the Open University who are university employees are offered:

  • up to a week's extra paid holiday each year to attend the Summer School
  • facilities for the use by the student of the libraries of other departments and institutions as well as their own, by arrangement with the department concerned

Other than the extra week's holiday, additional time off for study is not granted.

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See the Handbook section 4 for full details of leave for the following

  • election to Westminster 
  • Jury Service
  • Voluntary Public Service
  • Reserve Forces