Until fairly recently the number of instances in which an employer was liable to pay an employee when he was not working were few - e.g. time off to seek other work and/or be trained when redundant was virtually the only instance for many years. Since then a whole range of rights to both paid and unpaid leave have been introduced.

All employees are entitled to receive 4 weeks paid holiday within their employers holiday year. This statutory holiday must be taken within the holiday year to which it relates and can neither be carried forward, nor be paid in lieu (except where the employees leaves during the holiday year with unused entitlement). Statutory holiday can be offset against paid contractual holiday to which an employee is entitled.

Subject to the production of an acceptable self-certificate for the first seven days (and the production of certificates from a medical practitioner for periods in excess), employers are responsible for paying Statutory Sick Pay for an employee's first 28 weeks sickness (within each year). Only the smallest employers can claim a refund from the State relating to the amounts paid.

It can be confusing to discern rights and responsibilities when an employee claims to have been sick whilst on holiday. It is important to make it clear in contract documentation that if a person falls sick when on holiday:

a. they must get a certificate from a recognised medical practitioner

b. their holiday is suspended for the period of sickness. Amounts already paid in respect of the holiday will need to be recovered - but offset by any SSP and occupational sickness benefit (if applicable)

c. the amount of holiday during the sickness should be added to the amount still to be taken.

Public Service
Where an employee is required to attend the following public events, employers are required to grant leave although not necessarily paid leave: jury service, military leave, duties as local councillor, governor of school, public appointments (e.g. member of a statutory or water authority), witness etc. Where an employee wishes to serve as a magistrate the right is specifically granted under legislation, namely the Employment Rights Act 1996. That Act sets out the reasonableness test but also requires employers to take into account any leave already given for Trade Union activities, and the effect on the employer's business of the employee taking the amount of leave they wish.

Draft Policy
Note (The 'entitlements' referred to are for example only. It should not be inferred that such an arrangement will satisfy the requirement.)

1. This Organization supports those employees who wish to undertake public duties.

2. Reasonable amounts of time off will be allowed to undertake such duties.

3. In calculating what is a reasonable amount the needs of the business must be taken into account particularly whether the duties undertaken by the person requesting the leave can be undertaken by more than at least one other person whilst the public duties are undertaken, and whether the person is already taking leave for other such purposes.

4. In order to support persons undertaking such duties the Organisation will make payment for [50% of the time taken] and expect the remainder to be taken either as unpaid leave of absence or as paid holiday from the employees annual entitlement.

5. Alternatively, if the person taking public leave wishes, credit could be given for additional hours worked at other times which could be regarded as 'paying' for any unpaid amount of time off.

6. Application for public duty leave should be made to [specify name] who will review the position in the light of the forgoing and decide whether there are any extenuating circumstances that might justify additional unpaid leave.

7. If a person is unhappy with the decision they have the right to exercise a right of appeal using the Grievance procedure.