Career Break Policy

Published: 27 June 2017
Freedom of information class: How we manage our resources

Our policy on career breaks.

Introduction

The career break scheme is an arrangement in which any permanent employee can apply to take a period of time away from work. This might be for a number of reasons such as the care of young children or elderly relatives, a sabbatical break, to pursue full time education or to engage in voluntary work.

A career break is an agreed period of unpaid special leave. It does not amount to a termination of employment. It should be noted, however, that by accepting an offer of a career break you are agreeing that if you do not obtain a post 3 months after the expiry of your career break then your employment will come to an end without further notice.
The essential elements of a career break scheme are that:

  • the period of absence is for an agreed period of time; a minimum of six months and a maximum of five years; no extension will be granted beyond 5 years.
  • RoS and the employee participating in the scheme undertake to keep in touch during the absence and make appropriate arrangements for this;
  • during your absence you can apply at any time for suitable vacancies advertised within RoS. If by the end of your absence you have not secured a post, HR shall attempt to identify a suitable post to which you can be assigned. While RoS will attempt to make its best endeavours to find you a suitable post we cannot guarantee you a job. In these circumstances, if a suitable post cannot be identified within 3 months of the expiry date of your Career Break, your employment with RoS will come to an end.
  • during your absence you can apply for training courses. The granting of such applications will be at management discretion.

Eligibility
RoS employees who wish to be considered for a career break must:

  • be a permanent employee of RoS;
  • have satisfactorily completed their probation period;
  • have an acceptable record of attendance and performance.

Please note the granting of a career break is entirely at the discretion of line managers. Where an application does not meet the criteria it will be automatically refused. Staff may appeal against this decision using the RoS grievance procedure.

Length of Career Break
The period of absence will be for an agreed period of time between a minimum of six months up to five years. No extension will be granted beyond 5 years. This period of unpaid special leave may follow maternity leave. For the avoidance of doubt where a career break follows on from a period of maternity leave the career break will only start at the end of the employee's entitlement to maternity leave.

Keeping in Touch
Employee’s Responsibilities:
Employees participating in the scheme will need to agree with RoS how to stay in touch. For example:

  • employee must notify RoS immediately of any change of address;
  • employee must advise RoS immediately if they decide that they no longer intend to return to work;
  • employee must co-operate with RoS in the 3 month period prior to their date of return in order to make arrangements for their return;
  • employee must report to HR any criminal charges against them.

Management Responsibilities:
Management will keep the employee informed about changes in RoS and any changes which may effect the employees terms and conditions of employment. One to one communication notices will be sent to employees.

Effect on Conditions of Service

A career break affects some of your terms and conditions of service. However, while you are on a career break, you will continue to be bound by the normal rules applying to civil servants, in particular those relating to conduct, financial affairs and political activities. This includes the requirement to report to HR any criminal charges against you whilst in Registers of Scotland’s (RoS) employment.

Summary of the effect of a career break (a discretionary period of unpaid special leave) on conditions of service.

Effects of Career Break
Any period of unpaid leave does not count as effective service for the purposes of sick absence pay, qualifying for maternity/adoption leave, higher annual leave allowance and calculating pension benefits. A “stop the clock” principle is operated, such that unpaid periods of absence do not accrue benefits, but those already accumulated are preserved.

Promotion
Staff on unpaid special leave are eligible to apply for promotion.

Mobility
Employees on unpaid leave who are in mobile grades continue to be considered as mobile during the period of unpaid leave. Where a department is relocating, employees on unpaid leave are treated in the same way as other employees.

Redundancy
Employees going on a career break will be advised that they may be considered as part of a unit of redundancy should surpluses arise during their career break. Employees who are on unpaid leave and who retire early on grounds of redundancy (whether voluntarily or compulsorily) will receive compensation:
*based on their pensionable pay before the start of their unpaid leave;
*calculated in the same way as for staff in post.
Acceptance of Outside Appointments
During your career break you should not engage in any occupations or undertakings which might in any way conflict with the interests of RoS or be inconsistent with your position as a public servant. You should contact HR for advice if you have any doubt about the propriety of any such activity.

Return to Work
During your absence you can apply at any time for suitable vacancies advertised at RoS. If by the end of your absence you have not secured a post, HR shall attempt to identify a suitable post to which you can be assigned. RoS will expect you to flexible in considering any available posts. You should also note that RoS are unable to create posts specifically to meet the individual needs of an employee returning from a career break. In consequence, while RoS will attempt to make its best endeavours to find you a suitable post we cannot guarantee you a job. In these circumstances, if a suitable post cannot be identified within 3 months of the expiry date of your Career Break, your employment with RoS will come to an end on that date, without further notice from either of us.

Employees may apply to return to work on a date earlier than the agreed date of return. A minimum period of 3 months notice should be given and RoS can not guarantee that a vacancy will be available at that time.

RoS will offer to meet with all employees before their return to work to discuss:

  • posts available;
  • working hours;
  • location options;
  • any training needs.

Questions / Further Information
If you have any questions or require information on the career break scheme please contact HR.