It is common during unpaid leave that is pre-arranged, for the employee to remain under a contract of employment and so continuity of service will not normally be broken.
In addition, even if there is no contract of employment covering the period, the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that continuity of employment can be maintained by arrangement between the employer and employee, or by custom and practice. Any short-term leave that has been approved by the employer, is likely to be deemed as counting towards continuous employment, either by arrangement, or continuation of the contract, unless expressly stated to the contrary.
A clear policy in place setting out the status of long-term unpaid leave and whether or not continuity of service will be broken, will help Employers to manage any uncertainties around unpaid leave that is agreed.
Before agreeing to a career break or sabbatical for example, both the employer and employee need to be clear about whether the employment contract will continue during the period of leave, and if not, whether (or not) the employer will guarantee re-employment of the employee after the break. To avoid doubt, there should be an express agreement between the parties on whether or not continuity of employment will be maintained.
For more information or to book an HR consultation please contact Karen Scott on 07762 629 448 or get in touch by clicking here.
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