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What would you do if an employee requested a career break?

Career breaks are an extremely useful way of holding onto those valued employees. However, it’s been proven that there are areas of uncertainty when it comes to career breaks.

The simple solution? Ensure you have a clear career break policy.

A wide range of employees from different industries take advantage of career breaks to either study, travel, pursue other interests and much more. Yet employers also gain an advantage, as the employee normally gains experience and skills whilst they are away from the workplace.

Where do you begin? What even is a career break?

Generally speaking, career breaks are used to describe a period of agreed absence, which could be weeks, months or in some cases, years. The longer the break, the harder it tends to be for an employee to reintegrate into their old workplace, plus the employer may not be as committed to re-employing them.

They tend to be unpaid, although some employers choose to pay the employee but a lower rate, this is to try and secure the employee to come back to work at the end.

Can anyone take a career break? How does an employee qualify?

All requests should be considered fairly, as eligibility for the break should not discriminate against certain staff groups such as part-time employees.

Eligibility will differ depending on each employer, it is common for employers to require the employee to have a minimum period of continued employment with them, before they can apply for a career break. However if you are going to do this, bear in mind the age discrimination law when setting the minimum period.

What about on return, does the employee have any rights?

When an employee returns from their career break, they have no statutory right to return. It is up to the employer and employee to agree terms before the break begins – meaning it’s extremely important to be clear about terms on return. If these are foggy, unclear or misunderstood, you could be putting yourself at risk of a claim.

Employers should consider if the role is guaranteed, what will role, pay and conditions be? They should also consider the fact that the job may no longer exist.

All of these points should be explained in a career break policy, to allow employees to be aware of what the process is and what they can expect. If you need help with this, contact us on 01909 512 120 or email info@loftusstowe.com

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Femi Ogunshakin Managing Director
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