An employee may, at some point in their career, require an extended period of leave from the workplace. There could be a variety of reasons for this including, and not limited to, caring for a dependent, extending family leave, undertaking a course or studying, undertaking voluntary work or travelling.

This policy is not applicable to Teachers who have their own SNCT provisions.

To view the full Career Break Policy, click Career Break Policy

Qualifying Criteria

Employees must have a minimum of 2 years’ continuous service before they can apply for a career break. Only in exceptional circumstances can an employee with less service be granted a career break and this can only be approved in consultation with People and Organisation.

Employees should only be taking 1 career break during their employment with us.

Length of the Career Break

Career breaks must be for a minimum of 6 months and for a maximum of 2 years. If an employee wishes to take a longer career break, People and Organisation must be consulted. This will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

If an employee wishes to take an extended period of leave which is less than 6 months in duration, other procedures should be looked into such as special leave .

Can an Employee Work During a Career Break?

An employee can undertake voluntary work but should not be using a career break as a way of undertaking other paid employment. Only in exceptional circumstances will an employee be able to do this and any approval of this will need to be done in consultation with People and Organisation.

How to Apply for a Career Break

Firstly, applications for career breaks should be made at least 2 months prior to the commencement of the career break.

Employees should complete and submit an Application for Career Break Form to their line manager. 

The request can be approved or declined by the line manager and then the request is escalated to the Chief Officer who will make a final determination.

How to Apply for a Career Break – Teachers

Firstly, a written application should be submitted to the line manager at least 3 months prior to the proposed date of commencement of the Career Break.

The line manager, after consideration of the application should forward to the Chief Education Officer for approval.

A copy of the letter of approval/rejection should be emailed to AskHR@aberdeencity.gov.uk  FAO Absence Team

The full Career Break Policy can be viewed in the  SNCT Handbook

Approving a Career Break

Before approving, the manager should take into consideration the needs of the Service at that time and how they would cover the role / duties during the career break.

If a career break is approved, a letter should be sent to the employee confirming this. The template can be found here.

Rejecting a Career Break

If a career break request is refused, a letter should be sent to the employee confirming the grounds for refusal. The template can be found here.

Please note that employees can only make one request for a career break every 12 months so unless they can evidence a substantial change in circumstances, they will not be able to re-apply for the career break for 12 months.

If an employee is dissatisfied with the reasons behind the refusal of their request, they can raise this by following the Managing Grievances procedure.

Prior to the Start of the Career Break

Prior to the commencement of the career break, the employee and the manager should confirm, in writing, the date of return.

They should also confirm, in writing, the preferred method of communication and how often they agree to communicate with each other.

This written agreement should be saved and emailed to People and Organisation for saving in the employee’s file.

The employee should use up all remaining annual leave prior to the start of the career break.

If an employee is in receipt of any employee benefits, including salary sacrifice scheme, they should contact People and Organisation prior to the start of their career break.

During the Career Break

The career break will be treated as a temporary suspension of contract.

The career break period will not count towards continuous service. However, it will also not break an employee’s continuous service.

There will be no entitlement to any salary increments.

Annual leave will not be accrued.

Neither employee nor employer will make any pension contributions. To learn more about your pensions, please contact the Pensions Section on 01224 264264 or visit www.nespf.org.uk.

The employee will still be subject to the Council’s Employee Code of Conduct . If it is determined that an employee is engaging in activities inconsistent with the terms of their career break or which potentially have an impact on their future employment with the Council, it may result in the termination of the career break and / or disciplinary action.

Career Breaks and Family Leave

A career break may be taken immediately after a period of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave where the employee meets the qualifying criteria. The employee will be required to take any annual leave accrued during the maternity, adoption or shared parental leave period immediately prior to commencing the career break. The career break will thereby commence on the date immediately following any such period of annual leave, where so requested.

If the employee has received the 12 weeks maternity/adoption pay at 50% of their pay and fails to return to work for at least three months at the end of the maternity, adoption, shared parental leave or at the end of the career break which follows immediately after, they will be required to pay back the 12 weeks at 50% of normal pay.

Extending a Career Break

An employee can apply to extend their career break as long as the total time spent on the break does not exceed the maximum period of 2 years.

Any requests for extension must be submitted 2 months prior to the requested extension date.

The Council is not obliged to grant any extensions.

Returning to Work

Prior to returning to work, a letter should be sent to the employee advising them of their return and confirming the date, time and location. The template for this can be found here.

The line manager and employee should arrange a meeting to discuss:

  • Organisational changes
  • Re-training or refresher courses
  • Any skills or qualification gained during the career break and how they may be relevant to the post
  • Any other issues

Where an employee whose post is covered by a higher level Disclosure (i.e. PVG or a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure) has spent a continuous period of 3 months or more in a foreign country during their career break, a foreign criminal history check will require to be undertaken before they recommence work for the Council. In this regard, the Foreign Criminal History Checks guidance should be referred to.

Not Returning from a Career Break

If an employee does not wish to return to their post, they will need to resign and give the appropriate notice period.

Should an employee not return on the date agreed without valid reason then the provisions of the policy will no longer apply and the employee will lose their right to a guaranteed return to work.

Organisational Restructures and Career Breaks

If a Service undergoes a restructure during the time when an employee is on a career break, and as a result the employee’s substantive post is no longer there when they return to work, the employee will be placed on the redeployment register and offered a suitable alternative vacancy where such a vacancy exists.

You might also be interested in:

Special Leave

Supporting Carers in the Workplace

Adoption Leave

Maternity Leave

Paternity Leave

Shared Parental Leave

Equality and Diversity  

Click here to return to the main Leave page.

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