Special leave policy

Published: 02 November 2022
Freedom of information class: How we manage our resources

Special leave is the term to describe approved absence from work for reasons other than holidays or detached duty on official business.


Special leave can be paid or unpaid and is not an entitlement or condition of service but is an option available to managers to provide support to staff in particular situations.

Paid special leave can be approved by managers or team leaders within the following limits:

  • Line managers/team leaders – Up to a total of 5 days in any 12 month rolling period.
  • Business Managers – An additional 5 days up to a total of 10 days in any 12 month rolling period.

Unpaid special leave can only be approved by HR and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances if supported by the relevant Business Manager. Unpaid leave is not a substitute for properly managing annual leave or for situations where a contractual change to working hours would be more appropriate. HR will make necessary adjustments for pay and reckonable service and individuals should make themselves aware of the implications before making a request.

All approved special leave must be recorded on annual leave sheets.

Special paid leave categories

Special paid leave can be considered and approved by managers under any of the following categories:

  • Bereavement: Death of a partner, close relative or other dependent, or close friend
  • Domestic emergency: Emergency relating to child care, partner, close relative or other dependant, damage or disruption to property.
  • Carers: Support to recognised carers to help manage statutory meetings or attend appointments with officials or experts.
  • Public Transport Disruption: In severe weather or other disruption resulting in the withdrawal of public transport where there is no alternative means of getting to work or making reasonable alternative arrangements.
  • Community Involvement: If you are involved in community groups, volunteering or community associations to attend formal training or development in order that you can fulfil your role effectively.
  • Reserve Forces, Territorial Army, Cadet Forces: To attend leadership/command training or annual camp.
  • Jury Service, Court Citation for Civil cases: Limited to the actual time you are required to attend court. Approval will routinely be given for the total period of required attendance.
  • Children’s Panel: for attendance at meetings, training and other essential business of the Children’s Panel. Approval will routinely be given for up to a maximum of 18 days per year.
  • Trade Union: For PCS elected officers and representatives to attend training, National Conference or National Executive Committee meetings.
  • Sporting Events/ Representing RoS: If you are selected to represent Scotland or the UK in a National or International sporting event or if you have qualified or been selected to participate in CSSC National Finals.

Additional Information

The decision about whether to authorise special leave and the amount of leave which is appropriate will take into account the individual circumstances, business needs and any period of special leave that may have already been approved.

Special leave requests should, where possible, be discussed and agreed in advance between the individual and their manager. In some circumstances this will not be possible, (e.g. Domestic Emergency) and they may be discussed retrospectively. Documentary evidence may be requested such as a jury citation or notification of formal training.

If any member of staff feels that they have been treated unfairly because of the application of this policy, they have a right to raise a grievance. The grievance should be made to a more senior manager within the management chain.

If, after considering the background to the request managers need further guidance they should discuss this with their Business Manager and/or an HR advisor. This policy has been assessed for equality impact and no issues have been identified.

Where possible a special leave application form should be completed and submitted to your line manager in advance of the period of special leave you are applying for. This can be done in the absence section of MyHR.

Approval and review

This policy will be reviewed and approved by the Policy and Practice Group annually, unless earlier review is appropriate.

AuthorHROD Team - ER
ReviewedHead of People and Change
Cleared Corporate Director
ApprovalPPG Approval date Existing Policy
Policy version Version 1.0
Review responsibilityPPG Review date April 2023
Publication scheme Yes
Email to contactemployeerelations@ros.gov.uk