Special leave model policy

The aim of this model policy on special leave is to provide a framework that schools can adopt to enable employees to request reasonable time off for a variety of personal, domestic, family, civic and public duties that impact on their working lives.

Model school policy

Our model policies and policy checklists are designed to assist NEU reps in negotiating the best employment policies on behalf of our members.

Reps should strive to ensure policies are compliant with the NEU models.

Reps should consult members before agreeing new policies or changes to existing policies and should not agree policies that do not meet member expectations, any statutory requirements and NEU minimums.

Reps should always seek to work collaboratively with other unions. 

Policy checklists should be used in conjunction with our model policies and can be used as a guide for reps when communicating with members over whether a proposed policy is acceptable.

If a policy is unacceptable, members should consider a collective response that may include taking industrial action. For further advice contact your NEU branch.

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Special leave policy checklist

This checklist should be used alongside the NEU’s model policy on special leave to help you negotiate a policy acceptable to the union. You may not be able to secure everything on this checklist – if that is the case, you may wish to consult members on whether the proposed policy is sufficiently positive to be acceptable.


  • Is there a statement from the employer (academy chain or governing body) which states that they recognise the importance of consistency, fairness and equality?
  • Does the policy set out clear and specific entitlements to leave, and confirm that these will be granted where cases are agreed to fit the criteria?
  • Are staff leave entitlements in line with, or broadly in line with, those in the NEU model policy on special leave?
  • Is there a commitment to transparency and open dialogue?
  • Is it clear that the policy will apply to all staff in the school/academy trust?

Roles, responsibilities and procedure 

  • Is the employee’s responsibility clear?
  • Is the process for making an application/request clear?
  • Is the timescale for making an application clearly defined? Is the role of the manager clear?
  • Does it state that requests will be considered sympathetically and compassionately? Does it state that requests will not be unreasonably refused and that leave will be granted where cases fit the criteria?
  • Is it clear when an employee will be told the outcome of their application?
  • Is there an option for the employee to discuss issues with human resources (HR)? Is the role of HR clear in the policy?
  • Is there a commitment to maintaining confidentiality?
  • Does it state that HR is responsible for implementing the policy? Is it clear where staff should go for further information?

The model policy sets out a full range of situations for which leave may be required and which should be covered in any policy, together with recommendations on levels of paid and unpaid leave.

February 2019

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