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Disability leave

Information on what disability leave is, when it may apply and how it can be requested.


Information not provided
Information not provided
Approval date
19 Mar 2014
Approved by
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Date of last review
01 Apr 2019
Date of next review
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Policy statement

1) The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the employment opportunity of employees who are disabled or become disabled during their course of employment with the University is positively managed.

2) The policy provides a framework which helps balance the individual needs of the employee with a disability, with the operational requirements of the University.

3) The policy covers all disabled employees of the University who have declared that they have a disability.

4) Disability is defined by the Equality Act (2010) as individuals with a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. .Where necessary, the advice of Occupational Health will be sought to determine whether an employee is disabled.

What disability leave is

5) Disability leave is a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act. It is paid time away from work for disabled employees who need treatment, rehabilitation or assessment related to their disability.

6) It may be for a long or short period of time, can usually be planned in advance and is for a fixed period of time. The policy allows for an element of flexibility so that it can be extended to cover unforeseen but clearly appropriate circumstances.

Disability leave and sick leave

7) Disability leave is distinct from sick leave and relates to time when an employee is taking usually planned leave from work for a disability-related reason as described in paragraphs 6 and 9.

8) Disability leave does not apply to absence through sickness, whether it is related to a disability or not, which is determined by either self or medical certification. As a separate matter, in certain cases, reasonable adjustments may be made in relation to the sickness absence of an employee with a disability and this topic is dealt with under the University’s sickness absence policy.

Possible reasons for disability leave

9) An employee requesting disability leave is not ill but needs time off for a disability related reason. The following are some examples of disability related reasons but it is not an exhaustive list. All of these must be related directly to the employee’s disability:

  • hospital appointments, hospital treatment as an outpatient or specialist check-ups including monitoring of related equipment or treatment

  • assessment for conditions such as dyspraxia

  • training for example with guide or hearing dog or in the use of specialist equipment

  • counselling or therapeutic treatment

  • recovery time after blood transfusion or dialysis treatment

  • physiotherapy

  • to allow time for adjustments or adaptions to be made


How an employee can request disability leave

10) Employees need to declare that they are disabled by updating their personal details on employee self service − this is held under Personal Sensitive Information. Employees who are disabled and wish to request disability leave as a reasonable adjustment will require the written approval of their line manager. For academic staff, approval from the Head of Department or Head of School is required. In all cases, the Head of Department should be informed by the line manager when a request for disability leave is made. Requests for this leave will be sensitively considered. In each case it is important that the advice of the Human Resources Manager is sought and followed to ensure consistency across the University and that we avoid acting in a discriminatory way.

11) A request should be made using the disability leave application form.

12) The Department of Human Resources may refer the employee to Occupational Health to identify the type of reasonable adjustment(s) which may help the employee to fulfil the responsibilities of their role. Occupational Health may (with the employee’s consent) seek further advice from the employees’ GP or specialist when this is necessary.

13) Disability leave will be granted for reasons connected with treatment, rehabilitation or assessment related to an employee’s disability. Appropriate arrangements should be made in relation to work commitments by the employee in discussion with the line manager.

14) Appeals about the amount of disability leave allowed, procedural irregularity or any other aspects of the decision that the disabled employee is in disagreement with, will be dealt with under the appeal procedure contained in the Flexible Working and Leave policy.

How much disability leave an employee can request

15) Individual disabilities and circumstances will all vary and so each case will be considered on its merits.

16) As the amount of leave needs to be related to the amount of time required for treatment, rehabilitation or assessment, which may well change over time, an agreement to disability leave will be valid for a period of not more than one year at a time. A request for a further period of disability leave may be made up to three months before it is due to expire. There will normally be a limit of 20 working days paid leave (pro rata) in any 12 month period.

17) In normal circumstances, a manager will be expected to grant the request for disability leave, unless there are objective operational reasons for refusing the request.

18) Leave may be taken in a ‘block’ or as individual days or hours.

Recording of disability leave

19) If disability leave is approved requests for individual instances of disability leave should be made through ESS (iTrent Employee Self Service) for approval by the managers.

Document control

Approval date: December 2013
Date of last review: April 2019 (Minor agreed change to the second paragraph of 'How much disability leave can an employee request')

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