Brighton Hill Community School

with specialist sports status

Brighton Hill Community School

with specialist sports status
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Home >> Information >> Policies >> 35. Staff Absence and Cover Policy

Published on - 20-07-2017

35. Staff Absence and Cover Policy

Purpose and background

The purposes of this policy is to ensure consistent practice in granting leave of absence to staff members within a framework which respects family and other personal commitments and supports a healthy work life balance. It applies to all employees of the school with respect to procedures for staff absence. It ensures compliance with the requirement for teachers to “rarely cover” as set out in the National Agreement ‘Raising Standards and Tackling Workload (January 2003).

Policy objectives

  • To establish guiding principles that offer reasonable flexibility regarding absence in term time. 
  • To publicise the criteria used to ensure that decisions regarding leave of absence are fair and transparent. 
  • To implement the national strategy for workforce remodelling. 
  • To publish an annual school calendar that seeks to specify the out-of-school-hours commitment of all employees. 
  • Wherever compatible with the educational and operational needs of the school, to support part-time and flexible working. 
  • To make arrangements for cover for absent teaching staff that offer best value for money and conform within the requirement to “rarely cover”

Practice and procedures
This policy is established and reviewed in consultation with all members of staff and professional associations represented within the school.

1. Staff Absence

Absence due to illness
The school recognises the need for employees to be absent from school during a period of illness and that this period of absence should be sufficient to ensure a positive return to work. The school will make reasonable efforts to accommodate the impact of illness or disability and will consider a change in working conditions or role either on a temporary or permanent basis. In cases where there is a regular or sustained period of absence due to ill health, the Headteacher may refer an employee for an occupational health assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to support the employee’s return to work and identify any changes to working conditions that may be required. If an occupational health assessment recommends that an employee is no longer able to perform his/her role the school will seek to provide alternative employment or to support in applying for early retirement if appropriate. In doing this the school will ensure full compliance with disability rights legislation. (as defined under the Equality Act 2010).

Any member of staff absent for over five consecutive days, or absent on the last day or first day of any new term, will upon return need to see the appropriate SLT faculty line manager for a return to work meeting and to complete the return to work form.

Employees must notify their Head of Faculty and Cover Manager of absence due to illness at the earliest possible time and no later than 7.30am on the day of illness. The telephone number for reporting absence is 07761 374823.  All employees should ensure they have this number at home as well as their line manager’s contact number which is to be held confidentially.


Teaching staff who are absent must:

  • Contact the Cover Manager by 7.15 am on the day of absence.
  • Contact the Faculty/Subject Leader to notify them of their absence by 7.30am on the day of absence.
  •  Ensure that work is sent in if possible for their classes being covered

Support staff must:

  • Contact their Line Manager and Personnel (01256 362502) by telephone and leave a message as soon as possible on the day of absence, certainly at least by 7.30am  
  • Where possible, notify your Line Manager of any tasks or actions that urgently need to be completed

Absence due to professional responsibilities

Colleagues should endeavour to arrange meetings in non-contact/remitted time.  However, where this is not possible absence due to professional responsibilities such as attendance at meetings,(including parent meetings) and case conferences or training must be approved in advance following the appropriate procedures. Requests for absence for training that do not meet the school’s development priorities will not be approved. Absence for professional development reasons will normally be limited to 1 fte on any one day.

Absence for personal reasons

Leave of absence for personal reasons may be granted by the Headteacher within the framework of this policy.
Any absence should be approved in advance by completing an appointment form and passing it to the Staffing & Business Leader. There may be exceptional circumstances when this is not possible and the member of staff therefore should make an appointment to see the Headteacher as soon as possible to discuss.

Criteria for approval of leave of absence are as follows:

Compassionate leave
Compassionate leave will normally be granted in the case of personal crises: serious illness or death of a spouse, partner or other close relative, attendance at a funeral. Requests for compassionate leave will normally be discussed with the Headteacher. There is no set limit to the length of compassionate leave although it would normally not exceed five days. It is normally granted with pay but it may be granted with or without pay at the discretion of the Headteacher. A record of the leave taken and the reasons for it will be made. An appointment form should also be completed and sent to the Staffing & Business Leader.


Statutory entitlement

In certain circumstances an employee is entitled to time off during working hours in order to assist or make arrangements for the care of a dependant.

Dependant: this term will include a spouse, partner, child, parent or close relative.  The term ‘dependant’ will also include any other person who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance or to make arrangements.

Specifically, an employee will entitled to paid/unpaid leave to take action in one of the following circumstances:

  • to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, or is injured or assaulted;
  • to provide assistance when a dependant gives birth
  • to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured;
  • following the death of a dependant
  • because of unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant;
  • to deal with an incident which involves their child and requires their attendance;
  • dependancy day for a dependant who needs your immediate support, for illness or other personal emergencies. The reason should be agreed with the Headteacher.

No more than 3 dependancy/compassionate paid days in any one academic year unless there are extreme circumstances.

Time off for close relatives

Close relative: The term ‘close relative’ would normally include, a spouse, partner, parent, child, brother or sister but may be appropriate to include another relative, or relative of the spouse who has a close association with the member of staff.

A Headteacher has the discretion to authorise paid time off in accordance with the following provisions:

  • Death or serious illness of a close relative – between three to five days paid leave but in exceptional circumstances it can be in excess of five days if also approved with the Chair of the Governing Body (to a maximum of ten additional days) 
  • Unpaid leave can also be authorised for a prolonged illness of a close relative 
  • Non-serious illness of a close relative – the Head may also authorise paid leave for a maximum of one day, but this does not include his/her child

Staff must make every effort to tell the school as soon as possible that they will be absent and the reasons for this. This leave will not normally exceed three days in any school year. In the case of the illness of a dependant, it would normally be expected that leave of absence will be granted for a short period of time until alternative arrangements for care can be made. It is normally granted with pay but may be granted with or without pay at the discretion of the Headteacher. A record of the leave taken and the reasons for it will be kept. An appointment form must be completed by the member of staff requesting this (T drive/staff/staff forms/Appointment request form).

Other personal leave
Leave of absence may be granted for other personal reasons. This leave will not normally exceed three days in any school year and must be with the prior approval of the Headteacher. Leave of absence with pay will normally be granted for:

  • attendance at interview;
  • visit to new school prior to taking up appointment (one day only);
  • moving home (one day only);
  • graduation of self, spouse, partner or dependant (one day only);
  • attendance at the wedding of an immediate family member (one day only).

Leave of absence may be granted without pay, or arrangements made to work time in lieu if practicable, for:

  • attendance at a wedding other than of an immediate family member.

A record of the leave taken and the reasons for it will be kept and an Appointment form will also need to be completed.  Leave of absence in other circumstances may be granted with or without pay at the discretion of the Headteacher in line with the spirit of the procedures laid out above.

2. Flexible working

Any employee may request a reduction in working hours or flexible working hours. In deciding whether to grant this request, the Headteacher will consider whether the request is compatible with maintaining high quality of education for students and the needs of the school. Whilst every effort will be made to accommodate the request, it will not always be possible within the limitations of the school’s curriculum, timetable and operations.

3. Cover for absent teachers

The school will establish arrangements for cover for absent teachers that represent good value for money for the school, ensure a good standard of supervision and teaching for students, and comply with the national agreement to “rarely cover”.

Teaching responsibility

A teacher will be responsible for teaching of classes allocated to him/her on the school timetable and for groups formed specifically for calendared school events.
Responsibility for supervising a class normally assigned to another colleague or a combination of classes normally assigned to other colleagues will be deemed to be cover. There are some exceptions to this e.g. responsibility for supervising Year 11 students during the summer examination period when teachers of Year 11 will be deemed to have been reassigned.

Cover supervision

The school will employ cover supervisors on the following basis: 2.8 fte to cover absence due to professional responsibilities and cover required for illness and personal reasons (calculated for the previous school year).
Cover supervisors will be used to cover for known and unknown absences, normally for up to a period of 5 days.
Cover supervisors will not be required to prepare or mark work but will be expected to uphold high standards of work and behaviour and to follow the school’s procedures for dealing with work and behaviour that fall below an acceptable standard. The school will provide induction and training for cover supervisors and will provide supportive line anagement and mentoring. For absences in excess of 5 days, the school will endeavour to provide cover by supply teachers where high quality provision is available.

Providing work for cover

The teacher assigned to a class will be expected to set work for cover lessons and complete the BHCS cover pro-forma and seating plan. In cases where this is not possible, the Faculty/Subject Leader will set work or delegate this task to another member of the department with appropriate management responsibility.

Rarely cover

There will be occasional circumstances in which it is not possible to provide supervision of lessons by cover supervisors or supply teachers. On these occasions teachers may be asked to cover for absent colleagues.
A record of cover by teachers will be kept to ensure this is equitable and conforms to the expectation to “rarely cover”. Statistics on cover by teachers will be published termly and will be available on request.    Colleagues who are under loading should actively be expected to be taken for cover commensurate with their under loading depending on their availability and the needs of the school.

4. Monitoring and evaluation

The Headteacher and SLT will monitor and analyse the school’s record of patterns of absence (planned and unplanned) and levels of cover used on a termly basis. The SLT link will also monitor the cover required in advance weekly and where necessary make changes. The Cover Manager will notify the SLT link on an ongoing day-to-day basis of any concerns for which authorisation or changes need to be made e.g. withdrawing a member of staff from a course or meeting if cover cannot be provided without using teachers.

The policy will be monitored by the Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for staff development. It will be evaluated annually to ensure fair and consistent practice and reviewed by governors, following consultation with staff, on a three-year cycle.

Policy reviewed: July 2017    Policy ratified: July 2017     Next review: July 2018

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