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Unplanned leave

The University recognises that staff will occasionally need to take leave from work at short notice as a result of unforeseen occurrences or personal emergencies. In order to enable staff to deal with these situations the University makes flexible provision for employees to take the necessary time off work. When taking leave in accordance with these provisions it is essential to communicate fully with your line manager as to the nature and duration of the leave.

Common types of unplanned absence are:

Further information on Absence and Unplanned Leave:

Compassionate leave

Compassionate leave is paid leave that allows an employee time off to deal with their personal distress and related practical arrangements, primarily, but not limited to, when a member of their family dies. It can also apply in instances of serious illness or injury.

The University of Reading acknowledges that bereavement and serious illness or injury impacts all individuals differently and the guidelines below are intended to show the minimum paid leave an employee is entitled to in different circumstances. It is acknowledged that not all employees will need to take the full allowance, and some employees will need additional time, depending on their relationship with the person and the circumstances of the death, illness or injury.

Compassionate leave can be granted by the Line Manager in the event of the death, serious illness or injury of an immediate relative or family member, the number of days is subject to the particular circumstances but is normally 3 days.

In cases where the circumstances involve the death of a child (and this includes children in respect of whom the employee is the adoptive parent and legal guardians and carers.), please refer to the Parental Bereavement Leave procedure for the statutory entitlement of leave.

One days’ leave can be granted on the death of wider family members to facilitate attendance at the funeral.

In exceptional circumstances, leave may be granted on the death of someone outside the immediate family. These circumstances would include (but are not limited to) situations where the employee is responsible for funeral arrangements or has to travel abroad to attend the funeral. An employee should notify their line manager of their need to take leave as soon as possible or, at latest, on the first day of absence. In exceptional circumstances, applications for leave will be considered after the first day of absence. Line managers have the right to exercise discretion in exceptional circumstances as outlined above. Leave days do not have to be taken consecutively.

Line managers will check whether the employee’s religion or culture requires them to observe any particular practices or make special arrangements which would necessitate them being off work at a particular time. Employees should not assume that their line manager is aware of any such requirements and should draw this to their line manager’s attention as soon as possible.

Line managers who are unsure of how to respond to a bereaved employee from a different culture should ask the bereaved employee about what is appropriate.

Other support

In addition to Compassionate Leave, an employee may wish to consider options such as requesting unpaid leave or annual leave in order to extend their period of absence. This should be discussed and agreed with their Line Manager.

The University also provides an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which is an independent, free, confidential support and counselling service called Confidential Care. This is a telephone service that can be accessed at any time of the day or night and is available 365 days of the year. Details can be found on the University website at:

The University also offers Parental Bereavement Leave. A form is available for notification purposes;

Parental Bereavement Leave Policy
Parental Bereavement Leave Form

Illness or injury

For further details see Sickness absence.

Other domestic emergency

Some types of domestic emergency may be covered elsewhere e.g. Emergency leave to care for dependents (PDF - 109KB)

Other types of emergency situation may arise that mean an employee may not be able to attend work, e.g. a burglary, flood, fire, other domestic emergency, etc. In such circumstances, the employee is expected to consider all options that will minimise the time away from work, but the University will aim to be flexible to allow the employee reasonable time off, normally unpaid, to respond to the situation. Personal appointments (emergency)

Personal appointments such as a visit to the doctor, dentist or hospital should, where ever possible, be made outside of working hours. However, the University recognises that in an emergency this may not be practicable. You will need to inform your line manager as soon as the appointment is made. Under some circumstances line managers may request sight of an appointment card.

Transport problems

Other situations may include the inability to get to work for one day or more or delayed arrival at work or early departure from work due to car breakdown, bad weather (i.e. heavy snow affecting transport), or delayed or cancelled transport services (i.e. flight delays on returning from holiday, industrial action affecting public transport). Alternative means of transport should always be explored to minimise absence from work. Absence reporting procedure

During any period of absence employees must always follow the Absence reporting procedure(PDF - 80KB). Failure to follow this procedure could result in disciplinary action, see .

As stated above, unplanned absence will often be unpaid. You should be aware that any periods of unpaid leave will affect your Pension contributions. Where possible and in advance of taking a period of unpaid leave you should contact the Pensions Office for further advice.

Line Managers should record all planned and unplanned leave locally. Unpaid leave must be reported to HR Operations using Self Service.

These guidelines are an outline of the University's approach to handling situations where unplanned absence from work is required.

Payment for unplanned absence

There is no statutory right for unplanned absence to be paid and in most circumstances such absence will be unpaid. Employees are not generally expected to cover unplanned absence by using their paid annual leave entitlement, although the use of annual leave may be appropriate in some circumstances and an employee may request this.

Whether unplanned absence will be paid or unpaid, whether the employee will be allowed to take the time from their annual leave entitlement, or given the opportunity to make up the time by working additional hours on another day within a reasonable timeframe, will be at the discretion of the Head of School or equivalent, in conjunction with the relevant HR Partner/Advisor if appropriate.

Employees are encouraged to discuss with their manager as early as possible any need to take time off work, so that an appropriate agreement can be reached regarding the situation.

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Should you require further information on Unplanned Leave then please refer to your HR Partner/Advisor

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