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Discretionary leave of absence

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by sciencechimp, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. sciencechimp

    sciencechimp New commenter

    Our school is bringing in a new policy re discretionary (not statutory) leave of absence. A lot of absences now appear to be unpaid; for instance, a medical appointment in school time now only gets paid up to half a day; "important family occasions" may be granted unpaid. It has always been customary here to grant a days paid leave to attend a child's graduation, for instance; also I have never heard of having to lose pay for hospital appointments, even if you have to take a whole day. Can they just change this without consultation? The head has told me this a standard policy for EPM schools, and as such the unions will have been consulted.I am interested to know what people think of this, and what other school's policies are.
     
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    "the unions will have been consulted".... ask your rep what happened.....
     
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    So if you have a hospital appointment, perhaps requiring half a day off, you lose half a day's pay...But if you phone in sick, and take all day off, you don't?o_O

    I think the way forward is clear;)!
     
    strawbs and JohnJCazorla like this.
  4. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    what's an EPM school?
     
  5. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    Unfortunately this sounds ok legally, at least the new policy does, I have no idea about the legalities of changing the policy and whether they should have consulted. It’s quite common in jobs for medical appointments not to be paid (except pregnancy related ones I think), and expecting to be paid for a child’s graduation, ie a jolly, is a bit much really. I don’t think the school would even HAVE to let you go, let alone pay you! It might have happened in the past and it’s lovely if you’re allowed to, but it’s not a great use of public money, really.

    My old school always used to let people do things like this paid (I was given a day off, paid, to go to my sisters wedding - lovely, but I was expecting it unpaid, and prepared that they might say I couldn’t go at all, in which case I’d have handed my notice in to enable me to go) New head has come in and is now saying if TAs are taking time off for things like this, they either have to work the hours back or take it unpaid (not sure where full time teachers stand on this as they obviously can’t work extra hours). As I say, in other jobs this is quite common so I’m sure it’s quite legal.

    People could of course phone in sick to avoid the problem as someone else has eluded to. Fine as long as you don’t get found out!
     
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    EPM is an HR consultancy used by many schools - we use them. Part of the service they offer is model policies, including Leave of Absence. But EPM is just a service a school buys, same as it buys in catering for example. There's no such thing as an "EPM school", with the implication that somehow EPM directs schools as OP has apparently been told. No school has to use EPM's model policies, and can make any amendments it chooses if it does use them. We don't use EPM's policies, we base ours on the model policies of our LA.

    I do not believe EPM consults unions abut its model policies (although i haven't checked that). Even if it does discuss this with them that would not amount to a statutory consultation where consultation is required. Schools must do their own consultations. (BTW, even if unions have been consulted you still have to consult the staff in your school in addition)

    So procedurally this sounds non-compliant. However the content of the policy appears to be legal.
     
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  7. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Do medical appointments not get paid as sick pay anyway? Maybe not, if they're just an hour or two. Maybe they're just saying that if it's more than half a day, then it will be recorded as a day's absence and be paid as sick pay, which wouldn't be so silly - it's not usually going to make any financial difference.

    Graduations and the like have always been at HT's discretion - but if there has been an established practice within your school then a new ruling on this would arguably be a change to your T&Cs.
     
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Hospital appointments aren't sickness and don't entitle you to sick pay. And in any case not all medical conditions that a hospital appointment might discover would entitle you to sick pay, only those which make you unfit to work.

    Appointments don't have to be paid (except for ante-natal appointments if you are pregnant, for which the rules are different).

    It might be different if your hospital appointments are related to an Equality Act disability.
     
    Stiltskin likes this.
  9. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    As a non expert, this is pure speculation, but are absence policies part of the terms of employment which cannot be changed without agreement?
     
  10. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    As @Rott Weiler says.

    I can see it from both sides, however if you have an inflexible policy then you shouldn't be surprised when teachers start refusing to help with other 'extras' or leaving as soon as directed time ends.(to go to an appointment).
     
    8sycamore likes this.
  11. 8sycamore

    8sycamore Occasional commenter

    This is fine, however it works both ways. I wouldn't expect to be asked to attend anything at lunch time or out of hours beyond the absolute minimum. We aren't paid enough for this nonsense.
     
  12. 8sycamore

    8sycamore Occasional commenter

    Just to add, I once worked for a head who was brilliant about paid absences in situations like the ones stated above. No one took the proverbial. We all looked out for each other. It was the happiest and most productive workplace I have ever experienced.

    It was a very tough school. SLT were always supportive of staff and helped if any behaviour issues arose. Observations happened once, maybe twice, a year. The feedback was always really constructive.

    Why did I leave, you may ask?
    It became an academy, a religious academy. It had been a non-faith LA comp. They got rid of the head and many of us, who couldn't support the new ethos, chose to leave. This was about eight years ago. The place is now RI. An utter shambles. Their HR policy is tight though.
     
    Dyathinkhesaurus and strawbs like this.
  13. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    I absolutely agree. I wasn't saying it was right, just how it is in many jobs. As I say, Ive benefited from being paid for a wedding, but was surprised to be and wouldn’t have dared complain if I hadn’t been, and would have understood if I hadn’t even been granted it. Schooos where this sort of thing is allowed are more likely to have staff willing to go above and beyond, and run School fairs, revision sessions and the like.
     
  14. bobtes

    bobtes Occasional commenter

    I agree about Equality Act. I have a couple of conditions that are covered under this, and have had maybe 5 or 6 related medical appts in the last couple of years. I always try and arrange them as convenient as I can, e.g. in a free at the start or end of day, but did have one recently that was a full day. Ironically I think I've only had 1 day off sick on a bout 4 years, so I would get a bit miffed if they started querying appts!
    Our policy asks staff not to arrange ROUTINE appts (eg optician, dentist) during school hours.

    Re: discretionary, again ours is quite fair and covers things like graduations etc.

    I think those schools that are fair, and maybe have a bit of "quid pro quo" should end up being happier places than those that have rigidly enforced rules.
     
    Dyathinkhesaurus and Rott Weiler like this.

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