Study leave policy

1. Introduction

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

The University recognises the benefits of staff development for individuals and the institution as a whole and provides a wide range of opportunities for staff to undertake personal and professional development as part of the PDR process.

The University has a responsibility to maintain services in order to meet business needs and there is no automatic right to time off for study or training. However, managers are encouraged to try to accommodate an employee’s study leave needs where practicable.

The aim of this policy is to inform employees and managers of their rights relating to study leave and to provide a framework for the decision making process.

2. Statutory entitlement

From 6 April 2010 employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous service have a statutory right to request unpaid time off for study or training; this is described as 'time to train'. Requests made under ‘time to train’ must be supported by evidence showing how the study or training will improve:

  • the employee’s effectiveness at work; and
  • the performance of the business of the University.

There is no statutory limit on the length of time that can be requested for such study or training.

3. Additional Oxford Brookes entitlement

The University offers staff who undertake agreed study and training up to eight days paid time off for study or training per year. Part-time and fixed term staff will normally be entitled to paid study leave pro-rata to the hours they work.

On top any paid leave granted under this provision, additional unpaid leave may be granted at the discretion of the Dean/Director. Employees may request longer periods of unpaid time off for study or training via the unpaid leave policy or the Career Break Policy.

Any leave granted, whether paid or unpaid, is subject to the operational requirements of the University. The Directorate of Human Resources must be notified where study leave is agreed in order to ensure the necessary administrative procedures and forms are completed.

4. Procedure for requesting time off for study or training

Most study and training requests, and corresponding entitlements to time off, should be agreed as development requirements as part of the employee's PDR. The number of days' paid leave agreed should take account of the guidelines set down in section 5 below.

In addition, employees can request time off for study or training under 'time to train' where they can reasonably demonstrate that it is likely to lead to an improvement in their effectiveness at work, and consequently an improvement in the performance of the University’s business. Requests can be made either in relation to an accredited programme leading to the award of a recognised qualification, or in relation to unaccredited training that will help the employee to develop specific skills relevant to their job.

Employees requesting study leave (paid or unpaid) in addition to that agreed as part of their PDR and through the ‘time to train’ provisions described in section 2, should give as much notice as possible (at least six weeks) and use the Study Leave Request Form which should be passed to their line manager.

Where the line manager is content to support the request they should complete Part B and forward the form to the Dean/Director (or their nominee) for final agreement. If the request is not clear or the manager has any concerns about granting the leave requested, they should arrange to meet with the employee to consider the request. The meeting should take place no later than 28 days after the date on which the request was submitted. After the meeting the line manager will complete Part B.

The final decision as to whether leave will be granted rests with the Dean/Director (or their nominee) and is subject to operational requirements. A decision will be given to the employee in writing within 14 days of the meeting. If a request for leave under the ‘time to train’ right is refused clear business or operational reasons for the decision must be provided.

Any leave granted must be recorded on the employee's annual leave card.

5. Guidelines on amounts of paid leave

Leave relating to taught qualifications

Employees studying for professional qualifications are entitled to a maximum of eight days paid study leave per year.

The University recognises that circumstances and types of study vary. Therefore rather than being prescriptive as to the exact amount of leave available, each case should be assessed on its own merits and the following factors taken into consideration:

  • To what extent is the course of study work-related, i.e. is the qualification:
    • identified as a development requirement in the employee' s PDR?
    • intended to improve the employee’s effectiveness in the University’s business or the performance of the University’s business?
  • Is the training aspirational, i.e. likely to benefit the employee in their personal career development?
  • Is the training or study purely for personal interest?
  • Will the training result in a qualification (see the National Qualifications Framework)?
  • What impact the study leave will have on the work and workload of the Faculty/Directorate and team?

In addition to the study leave allowances given above, paid leave may be granted to sit approved examinations. This must be agreed and arranged in advance with the Dean of Faculty/Director and is subject to operational requirements.

Work-based qualification routes

The guidelines on study leave for employees studying for work-based qualifications provide broadly similar study leave as for employees studying for taught qualifications. Study leave will typically be given at or near the end of the study period or prior to any examinations.

Employees on programmes such as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), where portfolio-based assessment applies, are entitled to up to 2 days' paid leave at Level 2; and 3 days' paid leave at Levels 3 and 4. These should be allocated for finalisation of the evidence-gathering and portfolio-presentation process.

Employees on programmes that use online testing (e.g. the European Computer Driving Licence) are entitled to up to 3.5 days' paid leave in total to allow for up to seven visits to the Test Centre, including travelling time.

Where programmes include an element of exam-based assessment (such as AAT/NVQ) additional paid leave may be granted by Deans and Directors for employees to sit the required examinations.

It is expected that line managers will, in addition to supporting staff through study leave, negotiate a reasonable allocation of work time to support the process of staff development represented by these programmes.

In-work study time to support accreditation

In-work study time is a discrete and separate item from the study leave allowances identified above which specifically deal with study time off-site.

Employees enrolled for workbased qualifications such as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and related Foundation courses (that develop literacy, numeracy, language and IT in preparation for NVQs) are entitled to a minimum of one hour in-work study time per week.

How the hour will be managed and recorded should be decided through consultation between the employee and their line manager. Depending on requirements it could be used on a weekly basis or accumulated over a number of across weeks and used in blocks.

Line managers have the discretion to offer employees additional in-work study time according to need and subject to operational requirements.

6. Appeal process

Staff who feel that they have been unreasonably refused the right to study leave or who feel that they have been victimised for requesting leave should, in the first instance, raise the matter with their line manager and inform their link HR Manager. They can also consult with their union and have the right to raise the matter through the grievance procedure.

7. Policy update and responsibilities

This policy was updated in April 2010 and an Equality Impact Assessment was undertaken.

Responsibility for this policy lies with the HR Team (EDI).