Special leave applies to those situations that life throws at you, such as snow, boilers breaking, pipes bursting, jury service and the rest. Some types of leave are discretionary and others must be provided in line with the law.
Jury Service 👩⚖️
All registered electors between the ages of 18 and 76 who have lived in the UK continuously for at least 5 years since the age of 13 are eligible for jury service.
The law doesn't directly give employees the right to time off work if they are called for jury service, but it is automatically unfair to dismiss them or submit them to any detriment because of it. Plus, you could be in contempt of court if you refused to allow an employee to attend jury service.
Employees can postpone jury service and must to follow the court's procedures in order to do so.
There is no legal obligation to pay employees during jury service, but employers can choose to if you wish. Where time off is unpaid, the employee may be able to claim for loss of earnings from the court.
Public Duties 👮♀️
Employees do have a right to unpaid time off to perform specific public duties including:
justices of the peace
members of a local authority
members of a police authority
members of any statutory tribunal
members of the managing or governing body of an educational establishment
members of a health service or education body
members of a prison visiting committee
members of the Environment Agency
members of the prison independent monitoring board (England & Wales) or of the prison visiting committees (Scotland).
Employers must allow reasonable time off for employees conducting any of the above duties for the purposes of attending meetings of performing approved duties.
Employers should agree with the employee the likely length of time off required and the impact on the business.
Time to Study 👨🎓
Young people between the ages of 16-18 are entitled to paid time off for specified study or training. Employees must have at least 26 weeks continuous service and the training must be to improve the employee's effectiveness at work or lead to a formal qualification.
Bereavement Leave 😔
Bereavement leave is time off work given to employees who are going through a grieving process after the death of someone close to them.
There is no statutory right to bereavement leave, so any leave given is at the discretion of the employer. There is also no requirement to pay the employee for time off. Employers should have a clear policy to ensure a consistent approach to bereavement leave.
However, if an employee loses a child under the age of 18, they are entitled to Statutory Bereavement Leave and pay.
Employees have the right to take time off for a funeral if the person who died was a dependent.
When it comes to bereavement leave, employers should always consider what is reasonable.
Time off relating to religion or belief ⛪
There is no statutory entitlement for employees to take time off for religious observance for example. However, employers need to ensure they are taking a reasonable approach. It makes sense to allow adjusted hours or holiday requests for an employee who is fasting during a period of religious observance, but employees should be encouraged to make such requests in good time to minimise disruption to the business.
Medical and Dental Appointments 🏥
Employers should ensure they have a policy and procedure in place to guide employees on how to deal with medical and dental appointments. Employers should encourage employees to book appointments in a way that minimises disruption to the business, but be aware that it isn't always possible.
Pay for medical and dental appointments is at the discretion of the employer, but should be applied fairly.
Domestic Emergencies 👨🔧
Occasionally a burst pipe or a broken down boiler will mean that an employee needs to request time off work. There is no statutory right to such time off, but employers should always refer back to what is reasonable. Employers may want to have a policy in place to guide employees on how to make such requests, how much time off is allowed and whether this is paid or unpaid.
Severe Weather 🌪️☃️
Severe weather can present a variety of challenges to business operations and to staff travelling to work.
If an employer chooses to close the workplace due to severe weather, they should pay their staff as normal.
However, if the workplace remains open, employers can agree for staff to work at home if appropriate, or take holiday or unpaid leave or make up their hours if they are unable to come to work due to the weather. Having a policy in place makes these situations clear to all affected staff and helps managers deal with the situation at hand.