Career Break Procedure

Published: 16 November 2022
Freedom of information class: How we manage our resources

Our procedure on career breaks.

Where the word colleague is used in this procedure, it refers to RoS employees.

1. Purpose and scope

1.1  The purpose of the career break procedure is to help you understand the roles, responsibilities and step by step process to apply, extend and return from a career break.

1.2  This document should be used in conjunctions with the Career Break Policy.

2. Roles and responsibilities

2.2 Your responsibilities as a colleague

2.2.1  It’s important to familiarise yourself with the career break policy and carefully consider the impact it will have on your terms and conditions of employment. Some colleagues may decide to take independent advice if they feel it is necessary.

2.2.2  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.

2.2.3  You must get in touch with your manager at least 1 month before your career break end date to agree next steps.

2.2.4  Colleagues should proactively search and apply for suitable roles in readiness for the career break end date.

2.3 Your managers responsibilities

2.3.1  Your manager will be your main point of contact during your career break. You will agree with your manager, before going on career break, how often you would like to keep in touch and what information you would like to hear about from a work perspective.

2.4 HR responsibilities

2.4.1  You can contact HR at any point to ask about any impact on benefits and terms and conditions of employment.

2.4.2  Colleagues and managers can engage with HR for support with the career break application form.

2.4.3  HR can support colleagues returning from career break to find a suitable role, if one exists. HR will not create a role to suit someone needs and we cannot guarantee a job. Where no suitable role can be found in the 3 months after the career break end date, HR will inform the colleague of this and, as per the career break policy, the employment will come to an end.

3. Applying for a career break

3.1  You should provide a minimum of eight weeks’ notice to your manager, when applying for the career break or for requesting an extension to a career break.

3.2  You can start the process of applying for a career break by discussing it with your manager. Requests should be made in writing by completing the career break application form.

3.3  You must confirm you have read the Career Break Policy and understand how this request will impact your terms and conditions of employment.

3.4  Your manager will then discuss this request with your Business Manager (C1). If the request meets the Career Break criteria, then your manager will submit a formal request to the Strategic Workforce Planning Group (SWPG). Submission deadline dates for SWPG can be accessed via the secretariat.

3.5  Once SWPG have reviewed the Career Break Request, HR will then write to the you to confirm whether this has been approved or declined.  If the request has been declined the reasons for declining the request will be included in the letter. If SWPG approve your Career Break Request, you will work with your manager and HR to make arrangements to start this.

3.6  The granting of a career break and the duration of the career break will be entirely at the discretion of RoS and will depend on the business needs at the time in question.

4. Complaints procedure

4.1  If you have had your application for a career break declined, at any stage, you may raise a grievance in line with the grievance policy and procedure.

5. Effect on Conditions of Service

5.1  This section will help you understand the impact that a career break will have on your terms and conditions.

5.2  Any period of unpaid leave does not count as effective service for the purposes of sick absence pay, qualifying for maternity/adoption leave, increase 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.

5.3  Whilst on unpaid special leave, you are eligible to apply for any internal promotion opportunities. It is your responsibility to agree with your manager, how you will keep up to date with any advertised roles.

5.4  Colleagues 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, colleagues on unpaid leave are treated in the same way as other colleagues.

6. Redundancy

6.1  Colleagues on a career break will be advised that they may be considered as part of a unit at risk of redundancy should surpluses arise during their career break.

6.2  Colleagues who are on a career break and who retire early on grounds of redundancy (whether voluntarily or compulsorily), will receive the relevant compensation:

  • based on their pensionable pay before the start of their unpaid leave;
  • calculated in the same way as for colleagues in post.

7.  During the career break

7.1 Keeping in touch

7.1.2  During your career break, you and your manager may agree to keep in touch. Colleagues should make arrangements with their manager prior to starting their career break. This can be amended during the career break if applicable but should be confirmed in writing and be proportionate to enable two-way dialogue and effective communication.

7.1.3  Colleagues must:

  • notify their manager immediately of any change of contact details (including change of address)
  • notify their manager immediately if they no longer intend to return to work
  • contact RoS one month prior to their date of return to discuss arrangements for their return
  • report to HR any criminal charges that have been raised against them.

7.1.4  Your managers will keep in touch if there are any significant developments or updates which you need to be aware of (This should be agreed as part of your career break arrangements).  You should ensure your managers has up to date contact details for you prior to the commencement of their career break.

7.2 Applying for suitable roles or promotions

7.2.1  During a career break you can apply for suitable roles or promotion opportunities advertised within RoS and across the wider Civil Service, provided that you are able to take up the post when required by the business area.

7.2.2  Its important you discuss what type of employment opportunities within RoS, that you would like your manager to keep you informed of and how you would like them to do this.

7.3 Applying for training

7.3.1  You can apply for training courses while on a career break. However, your manager will make the final decision on whether this request is approved.

7.4 Employee Assistance Programme

7.4.1  You are still able to access all of the usual services available from the Employee Assistance Programme during your career break.

7.5 Extending a Career Break

7.5.1  Any requests for an extension should be discussed with your manager. Your manager and Business manager (C1) must review this request initially.

7.5.2  You are required to provide 8 weeks notice when requesting an extension on their Career Break.

7.5.3  If your request can be supported then you and your manager will then work with HR ( to complete the career break extension application form. All Career Break extensions will be submitted via SWPG and follow the same timelines outlined in section 3.

8. Returning to Work

8.1  One month prior to your career break end date, you will meet with your manager and HR to discuss:

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

8.2 Returning to work earlier than the date initially specified

8.2.1  You can apply to return to work on a date earlier than the agreed date of return.  A minimum of 1 month notice should be given. However, RoS cannot guarantee that a suitable vacancy will be available at that time. If there are no suitable vacancies available, then you will remain on career break until the career break end date that you specified on your career break request.

8.3 Securing a new position once a Career Break has ended

8.3.1  You can apply at any time for suitable vacancies advertised within RoS and across the wider Civil Service.

8.3.2  If by the end of a career break, you have not secured a post, HR will work in partnership with you for a 3 month period to identify a suitable post.

8.3.3  RoS will expect you to be flexible in considering any available posts. RoS will not create posts specifically to meet your needs when returning from a career break, nor will your previous post be held open and made available to you on their return.

8.3.4  During the period of time that you are applying for roles within RoS, or have provided notice of your decision to return to work, you will not be paid i.e. a career break remains unpaid until when/if a new role has started.

8.3.5  While RoS will attempt to make its best endeavours to find you a suitable post, at the substantive grade, we cannot guarantee you a job. In these circumstances, if a suitable post cannot be identified, in the 3 months following the expiry date of your Career Break, your employment with RoS will come to an end, without further notice, or any obligation (including financial) on RoS’ part. This means that no severance or redundancy payment will be made, regardless of length of service.

9. Further Information

9.1  If you have any questions or require further information on career breaks please contact the Human Resources.

10. Approval and review

This policy will be reviewed and approved by Strategic Workforce Planning Group annually, unless an alternative date is required.

Author Employee Relations Manager
Reviewed Head of Human Resources
Cleared Corporate Director
Approval SWPG Approval date 11 August 2022
Policy version Version 4.0
Review responsibility Policy and Practice Group Review date 6 September 2023
Publication scheme Yes
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