Renfrewshire Council

Scheme of unpaid leave of absence due to illness

What the scheme is, how to apply, how decisions are made, what happens if your application is approved or declined.

What the scheme of unpaid leave absence due to illness is 

If your sick pay entitlement expires, and the available medical evidence suggests you're likely to return to work in the near future, your Head of Service or a Senior Manager may approve up to 13 weeks unpaid leave. This is to allow more time for your recovery and to look at return to work options. 

In exceptional circumstances, a further final period of up to 13 weeks unpaid leave may be approved. 

Unpaid leave of absence will also be considered if you have a terminal illness and your sick pay has ended, and you would like to remain in work. 

How to apply 

If you wish to apply for unpaid leave of absence, you should request this: 

  • by contacting your manager in writing (this can be by email) 
  • during an absence review meeting. 

Your manager will provide your Head of Service or Senior Manager with recent medical advice from Occupational Health and a copy of your latest fit note. 

You should give as much notice of your application as possible, so we can respond before your sick pay ends.  

Application process 

Your Head of Service or Senior Manager will be provided with the latest medical evidence and any other relevant information needed to consider your request. This will include advice from your manager on whether your request can be supported.

In reaching a decision, the Head of Service or Senior Manager will also consider: 

  • the nature of your absence 
  • medical opinion and expected return to work date, if appropriate 
  • supporting information from your service - notes of meetings and support offered so far 
  • information and recommendations from other support providers, including any relevant welfare information 
  • your length of service 
  • any previous periods of unpaid leave of absence due to illness over the last 3 years. 

Application decision  

The Head of Service or Senior Manager, in consultation with HR&OD, will make the decision to either: 

  • support your request in full 
  • approve a smaller amount of unpaid leave than you requested 
  • decline your request. 

Your manager will update you on the outcome of your application, usually by a phone call. This outcome will also be confirmed in writing by your manager, for example by email or it can be included within an absence review or follow up meeting outcome letter.  

If your application is approved 

You need to continue to follow the absence procedures during your additional period of unpaid leave. 

During an approved period of unpaid leave of absence due to illness you should: 

  • continue to submit fit notes (or copies if you need the original for other purposes) 
  • attend Occupational Health appointments as arranged 
  • keep in regular contact with your manager as agreed.

You'll continue to receive pension benefits as if you were working normally on full pay during approved unpaid leave of absence due to illness. 

If your application is declined 

If your unpaid leave of absence request is declined as the service is unable to support your absence further, and all other options have been explored, we may consider ending your employment on the grounds of lack of capability due to ill health. 

The same applies if you're unable to return to work at the end of your periods of unpaid leave. Discussions around this potential course of action will take place at the relevant formal absence review or follow up meetings.

You will not be dismissed on the grounds of lack of capability due to ill health during an approved period of unpaid leave of absence. We can continue to progress ill health retirement in the normal way during this time, if appropriate.

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