Leave Without Pay & Secondment

Approving Authority:
Vice-Chancellor
Date of Approval:
20 May 1997
Last Amended:
June 2011
Contact Officer:
Director Human Resources

LEAVE WITHOUT PAY

1. Introduction

The University recognises that the abilities of its academic, teaching and general staff should be made available for the benefit of the community, and to this end is prepared to grant periods of unpaid leave from normal duties so that staff members may engage in other appropriate activities. Periods of leave without pay can also be granted on compassionate grounds, or where there is a potential benefit to the University. This is, of course, subject to the condition that the absence must not result in any serious impediment to the proper discharge of the University's corporate responsibilities. The following guidelines apply for periods of more than four weeks, although each case will be considered on its merits in recognition of the widely varying circumstances which lead to applications for leave without pay.

2. Conditions

2.1 Leave without pay of more than four weeks will be granted only if the case is considered to involve the national interest, or if there can be demonstrated a clear prospect of benefit to the University, or if there are strong compassionate grounds.

2.2 In determining whether or not the proposal involves the national interest, regard will be had to the potential contribution to the work of government or public bodies, and to the extent to which the staff member possesses unique skills and experience. Such a case would be greatly strengthened if a specific request has been made by a government or external agency for the services proposed.

2.3 In considering potential benefit to the University, regard will be had to the extent to which the work will enhance the interests of the University during the approved leave, and the future contribution of the staff member to the University (including career development, exchanges, skill enhancement, study and in some cases travel). Alternatively, the University may take into account that a proposed absence will provide an opportunity to save or redeploy funds.

2.4 Leave without pay may also be approved as part of parental leave.

2.5 A condition of a period of leave without pay is that the staff member undertakes to resume full normal duties at the University on its conclusion and to remain with the University for a time not less than the period of absence. However, if the staff member's circumstances change such that they do not intend to return to the University at the conclusion of the approved leave, the staff member should notify the University as soon as possible of their resignation.

2.6 A staff member who is on leave without pay must generally accept responsibility for all costs and liabilities (both personal and those of the University) associated with superannuation fund membership. The situations in which this requirement may be waived are set out below in 2.7 and 2.8.

2.7 When a staff member is on leave without pay, to undertake activities which are clearly related to her or his University duties, it is possible he/she will receive no salary, or a lesser salary than usual, during the period of the leave. He/she may apply to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for his/her responsibility for payment of the University's contributions to the superannuation fund to be waived in part or in full.

2.8 As well, if the period of leave without pay is more than three months, and the staff member is a member of the State Superannuation Scheme, the staff member may choose to accept a permanent proportional reduction in unit entitlement, in which case the staff member would not be required to pay the University's contributions after the first three months of the period of leave. If the staff member is a member of the State Authorities Superannuation Fund, then some periods of leave without pay for more than three months (but not leave without pay as part of maternity leave) do not attract employer-financed benefits and employee contributions are not required.

A member of the Superannuation Scheme for Australian Universities may maintain full benefits while on leave without pay provided that the employee and the employer contributions are continued. If the member does not continue to pay the normal contributions, his or her membership is suspended during the period of absence. Alternatively, the member may pay a reduced contribution to retain full death and disablement cover but without accruing additional retirement pension benefits. (Further information may be obtained from the Superannuation Office.)

2.9 The period of leave without pay will not generally count for the purposes of:

i) eligibility for a special studies program
ii) long service leave accrual (although after 10 years of service, leave without pay of less than 6 months, is counted).

Exceptions may be made in special cases.

2.10 The approval of a staff member's application for leave without pay will normally be dependent on that staff member clearing all accumulated recreation leave and long service leave as part of the period of approved leave. Where a staff member believes the circumstances are such that they should not be required to clear all accumulated recreation leave or long service leave they must receive the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) to carry forward this leave until they return from their period of leave without pay.

3. Approvals

3.1 Applications for leave without pay for up to six months require the approval of the Dean or Divisional Manager.

3.2 Applications for leave without pay for between six and twenty-four months require the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellors.

3.3 Applications for leave without pay for more than twenty-four months would only be considered under very exceptional circumstances and would have to be approved by the Vice-Chancellor.

3.4 Staff members should not presume that any application for a period of leave without pay or an extension to an approved period of leave without pay will necessarily be approved.

4. Procedure For Application

Written applications should be forwarded as early as possible through the Head of School or equivalent and Dean, or Divisional Head to the Human Resources Department. The University is prepared to accept an initial application (virtually a notice of intent) which will need to be followed by further advice or confirmation. The application should include a comprehensive statement of the purpose of the absence and of the grounds which would justify its approval. If the purpose is to engage in other employment it would be helpful if a letter from the potential employer, showing the precise nature of the invitation and the reasons for it, were included.

The application must be accompanied by statements from both the Head of School or equivalent and Dean, or Divisional Head indicating whether or not the application is supported. A statement of support should include detailed reasons for the support and a precise statement of the means proposed to cover the staff member's absence.

SECONDMENT

1. Introduction

A secondment is an alternative way of dealing with some situations which give rise to an application for leave without pay. In a secondment the staff member remains on the University payroll while absent from normal duties, undertaking activities on behalf of another institution.

The University is then periodically reimbursed by the other institution for salary and all other associated costs as agreed. There are obvious advantages to the staff member concerned in arranging a secondment rather than a period of leave without pay in that continuity of employment and of the benefits of employment are maintained, but a secondment is usually marginally more expensive for the host institution than employing the staff member for a period of leave without pay from the University.

Joint ventures between the University and overseas institutions requiring a UNSW staff member to serve overseas are treated as a special case of secondment in which the host institution undertakes the direct payment of the staff member. The staff member would be removed from the University's payroll for the period of secondment and be responsible for superannuation payment arrangements (as with leave without pay).

A secondment will not be approved where the employee proposes to take up a senior management position with an incorporated organisation, such as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) or a Centre of Excellence (eg. NICTA), and will consequently not retain a substantive role with the University during the relevant period. In these situations the employee must have been granted leave without pay from the University.

2. Conditions

2.1 In addition to the conditions which govern the approval of leave without pay the University will agree to a secondment only if it is in no way financially disadvantageous to the University and if the University considers the activities to be undertaken at the host institution to be consonant with the staff member's responsibilities to the University.

2.2 In any case, a secondment will be approved only if either the case is considered to involve the national interest or if there can be demonstrated a clear prospect of benefit to the University or if it is determined by a joint venture agreement involving the University.

2.3 In determining whether or not the proposal involves the national interest, regard will be had both to the potential contribution to the work of government or public bodies and to the extent to which the staff member possesses unique skills and experience. Such a case could be made only if a specific request had been made by a government or external agency for the services proposed.

In considering potential benefit to the University, regard will also be had to the extent to which the work will enhance the staff member's future contribution to the University. In addition, the University may take into account that a proposed absence will provide an opportunity to redeploy or save funds.

2.4 The extent to which a staff member on secondment retains the benefits associated with continuous employment varies from case to case and is dependent on the specific agreed reimbursement paid to the University. The following costs are met by the host institution during a secondment:

  • salary
  • employer's superannuation contribution
  • employer's superannuation contribution
  • payroll tax
  • annual leave loading
  • workers' compensation (expressed as a percentage of salary)
  • provision for annual and long service leave accrual (expressed as a percentage of salary)
  • administrative costs (expressed as a percentage of salary)
  • in the case of an academic staff, provision for special studies program eligibility (only if the staff member is to continue accrual of SSP eligibility during the secondment). 

2.5 Unless otherwise specified a staff member on secondment will carry to the host institution sick leave entitlement to a maximum of 33 days (general staff member 10 days) per year of secondment and the host institution will be responsible for paying for any sick leave that occurs during the secondment up to that limit. In the case that the staff member was ill for a period greater than that maximum limit, but retained additional sick leave entitlement at the University, the University would take over the responsibility for paying for the additional period of sick leave. During the first twelve months of a period of secondment the home institution will remain financially responsible for any maternity leave which is required. During a secondment of more than twelve months the host institution becomes responsible for any maternity leave that commences after twelve months and within the period of the secondment.

2.6 It is a condition of approval that the staff member takes any recreation leave or long service leave accrued during the secondment period prior to returning to UNSW.

2.7 A condition of approving a period of secondment is that the staff member undertakes to resume full normal duties at the University on its conclusion and to remain with the University for a time not less than the period of absence. In any case, a secondment will not normally be approved for more than three years. If circumstances change, the staff member on secondment must notify the University as soon as possible, preferably at least six months in advance, if they will no longer return to employment at the University on the completion of their period of secondment.

2.8 Applications for secondment for up to twelve months may be approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

2.9 Applications for secondment for between twelve and twenty-four months may be approved by the Vice-Chancellor.

2.10 Applications for secondment for between twenty-four and thirty-six months would only be considered under very exceptional circumstances and would have to be approved by the University Council with the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor.

2.11 Staff members should not presume that any application for a period of secondment or an extension to an approved period of secondment will necessarily be approved.

3. Procedure for application

3.1 A proposal in writing should be forwarded as early as possible through the Head of School and Dean or Divisional Head to the Director Human Resources. The University is prepared to accept an initial application (virtually a notice of intent) which will need to be followed by further advice or confirmation. The proposal should include a comprehensive statement of the purpose of the absence and of the grounds which would justify its approval. It is helpful if a letter from the proposed host institution, showing the precise nature of the invitation and the reasons for it, can be included.

3.2 The proposal must be accompanied by statements from both the Head of School and Dean or Divisional Head indicating whether or not the application is supported. A statement of support should include detailed reasons for that support and a precise statement of the means proposed to cover the staff member's absence.

3.3 After the initial proposal from the staff member has been received, the details of any secondment agreement will be negotiated between the University and the host institution.

It may be appropriate in particular cases for a staff member to seek approval for a partial secondment if the staff member wishes to work at another institution on a part-time basis for a limited period of time. Such a secondment would be dealt with in precisely the same way as a normal secondment.

STAFF EXCHANGE

A staff exchange is usually initiated by the staff member concerned. It would be proposed when the staff member wishes to work for a period at another institution and knows of a staff member at that institution who has appropriate skills and qualifications and who wishes to work at the University. Although it is not necessary for the exchange staff to replace each other exactly (ie to give the same lectures in the same courses or carry out the same duties if a member of the general staff), it would be required that the replacement staff member be able to make a comparable contribution to the University so that there was no need for any additional full or part-time staff to be employed to maintain the teaching and research program in the absence of the exchanging staff member. It would be necessary in any such exchange for each of the exchanging staff members to be acceptable to the receiving institution and, given that the exchanging staff remain on the payroll of their own institutions, that there be no additional costs to the University resulting from the exchange.

A proposal for an exchange should be made in writing through the Head of School and Dean or Divisional Head to the Human Resources Department. If appropriate, the Human Resources Department will consult with the Research Office.