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Human Resources


The University is committed to developing work practices and human resource policies that support work-life balance and equality of opportunity in employment.

Any special leave granted is always on the provision that it is subject to the operational needs of the work area of the particular employee and requires prior permission. The Head of Institution may delegate authority for the operation of this policy in their institution to a nominated individual, e.g. line manager or in accordance with local reporting procedures..

The University recognises that there may be occasions when employees need to take time off work for reasons that do not necessarily fall under normal leave provisions. A range of special leave options are summarised to help employees achieve an appropriate balance between their work and personal commitments. Some of these provisions are already in existence e.g. compassionate leave, emergency leave and jury service, whilst others are based on custom and practice.

The aim of the Special Leave Policy is to provide a framework that enables employees to request reasonable time off for:

  • Serious illness or bereavement of a close relative (Compassionate leave).
  • Unforeseen emergencies involving dependants or unexpected domestic emergencies (Emergency leave).
  • Leave for carers of dependants with long-term care needs 
  • Essential civic and public duties.
  • Service in the Reserve Forces.
  • Jury Service and attendance in court as a witness.
  • Gender reassignment.
  • Fertility treatment.
  • Elective surgery/procedures.
  • Religious or belief-related obligations.
  • Voluntary work.

This policy has been developed in consultation with the trades unions and the Diversity Network Group and in line with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

This policy should be used in conjunction with the following University documents:

This policy is not intended to remove any current provisions afforded to employees under their contracts of employment, under existing legislation, or other local institution arrangements agreed between the University and trades unions.

The following legislation is relevant to this policy:

  • Employment Relations Act (1999).
  • Employment Rights Act 1996.
  • Juries Act 1974.
  • Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.
  • Equality Act 2010.
  • The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 (Section 236(3) Employment Rights Act 1996. 

Please note that all other types of leave including annual leave, sick leave, maternity, paternity and parental leave, leave for academic or professional reasons and time off related to adverse weather are out of scope of this policy. See further details on these and all other types of leave.

It is recognised that it is not possible to cover all circumstances where special leave may be appropriate, therefore for specific or exceptional circumstances not covered by this policy, please contact the relevant HR Business Partnering Team for further advice.

The University will treat instances of unauthorised leave as a serious disciplinary matter. Employees should be aware that, if they take a period of leave that has not been approved, their pay may be withheld and they may be subject to disciplinary action. For further advice please refer to the relevant disciplinary procedure and the relevant HR Business Partnering Team.