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Topic: Time off and holidays

letter declining a career break
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Letter declining a career break

Letter declining a career break

If you refuse to grant an employee time off work for a career break or sabbatical, you should ideally confirm your position in writing, even if you already have a policy in place which sets out the grounds on which you can decline an application. Use our letter to set out your reasons for rejection of the employee’s request.

No statutory right

Unless it falls within one of the family friendly rights, there is no statutory entitlement for employees to take a career break or sabbatical. Whether you grant time off in these circumstances is entirely at your discretion and subject to any relevant terms in the employee’s contract of employment or in any policy you have in place on the subject. Our Leaves of Absence Policy includes a section on career breaks and we also have a dedicated Career Breaks Policy. Career breaks can be a useful way of ensuring that long-serving employees don’t permanently leave your employment and so don’t dismiss the idea of them out of hand. That said, you won’t always want to grant every application you receive and therefore you can use our Letter Declining a Career Break to reject any non-approved applications. Your reasons for rejection will generally fall within one of two broad categories - you haven’t exercised your discretion in the employee’s favour on this occasion, or the employee’s application fails to satisfy one or more pre-conditions for career breaks that you may have set in your policy. We’ve covered both these categories in our letter.

Exercise of discretion

You need to exercise your discretion fairly and not irrationally or arbitrarily. Here, you can consider not only the operational needs of your business but also the work circumstances of the particular employee. For example, you might reject an application because it’s a particularly busy time and the employee is fulfilling a key role, or they’re currently working on a major project from which you can’t release them, or you’re unable to cover their work during the time when they would be absent, or they have a “live” disciplinary or performance management warning on file. Our letter enables you to set out your objective, non-discriminatory reason for declining the employee’s application.

Unfulfilled condition

Your policy may also have set out a number of pre-conditions for qualification for a career break and here our letter enables you to confirm that the employee has failed to satisfy one or more of those conditions. We’ve relied on the ones set out in our career breaks policy. These include that the duration of the proposed career break is too short or too long, the employee hasn’t been employed for long enough, they didn’t submit their application early enough or you don’t agree the purpose of the proposed career break e.g. it’s to take up other paid employment or self-employment or it otherwise conflicts with your business interests. Do feel free to amend or add to our list to mirror the provisions of your own policy.

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