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Time off

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Staff may need or be entitled to time off for a range of reasons. The information below relates to time due to:

  • jury service and other public duties
  • reservist duties
  • trade union duties and activities
  • time off work to study
  • adverse weather and travel disruption.

Other time off is dealt with elsewhere in this section:

Jury service and other public duties

If your employee is called for jury service, you are under a legal obligation to give the employee unpaid time off to attend. Employees are also allowed reasonable unpaid time off to undertake other public office duties, such as being on a statutory tribunal or as a Justice of the Peace.

Individuals can normally claim for loss of earnings from the court. This may be less than the employee’s normal salary and employers may choose to top up the payments.

Alternatively, the employer may continue to pay normal salary, on the written agreement that when the employee has received the loss of earnings allowance from the Court, the employee will pay this amount back to the employer.

You can find more information from GOV.UK on giving staff time off for jury service, and Acas’ guidance on jury service.

NCVO members can download an example policy on time off for public duties.

Reservist duties

Employers of reservists who are called up are obliged to release them and subsequently to re-employ them afterwards, provided the employee makes a written application for re-employment within six months. These special provisions apply only if there has been an official call-up. You can find a guide to employing reservists at GOV.UK.

Trade union duties and activities

Trade union representatives are entitled to paid time off to get training and to work as representatives (including shop stewards, health and safety or union learning reps).

This is the case if the union is:

  • independent
  • officially recognised by the employer to represent union members on negotiations on pay and terms and conditions.

If your organisation does not recognise a trade union, you do not need to give time off in the above circumstances. For further information, see GOV.UK’s guidance on the rights of trade union reps.

Time off for non-union representatives

In organisations which do not recognise trade unions, employee representatives have statutory rights to time off in some circumstances, such as:

  • for consultation about collective redundancies
  • for consultation about the transfer of undertakings (TUPE)
  • as health and safety representatives.

For further information on the rights of non-union representatives, see the Acas booklet, Non-Union Representation in the Workplace (PDF, 4.3MB).

Time off work to train and study

Employees have the right to ask for unpaid time off work for training and study, where:

  • they have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks
  • training will help them do their job better
  • there are at least 250 employees in the organisation.

For more information on processes to follow in order to deal with a request, see:

Adverse weather and travel disruption

You should talk with employees about working from home, taking leave or making time up later if they can’t get to work because of travel disruption. You are not legally obliged to pay the employee for the day on which they cannot get to work. However, if the workplace is closed because of disruption and the employee doesn’t usually work from home, you will not normally be able to deduct pay.

Acas has further guidance about how to deal with travel disruption.

NCVO members can access an example adverse weather and travel disruption policy.

Further resources

Page last edited Apr 06, 2022

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