Compassionate leave

Article 46


All employees employed under Public Services Commission Manual and Craft Workers terms and conditions 2015 should have confidence that at times of urgent and unforeseen need that the granting of compassionate leave may be appropriate at the discretion of management and according to the operational needs of the Division.


  1. The objective of such leave is to help the employee to balance the demands of work and domestic responsibilities at times of urgent and unforeseen need and applications should be treated sympathetically.

  2. The grant of compassionate leave with or without pay for urgent domestic reasons will remain a matter for departmental discretion and the guidance given below does not affect the exercise of that discretion by the Chief Officer or his delegate, in deciding whether a period of special leave requested is necessary or justified.


The type of needs covered will be those arising from the many and varied domestic situations which may arise (eg. bereavement of a close relative; serious illness of a child, close relative or dependent; breakdown of normal care arrangements; coping with an unforeseen care problem; divorce proceedings).

(a) For further assistance, a supportive approach may include investigating a period of flexible working. To help an employee adjust to their altered circumstances it may be helpful for divisions to consider, adjusting start or finish times or reducing the length of the working week. A period of 5-8 weeks 'rehabilitation' may prove useful in providing a gradual increase in hours, towards full attendance.

It may provide better support for employees if management ensure that the employee is also advised as to appropriate external agencies that may be able to provide emotional or other support (such as Bereavement Counselling, Debt Counselling or Relate).

(b) In cases of urgent domestic distress it may be necessary to consider periods of leave with pay to enable the re-organisation of personal affairs. If necessary, and in order to meet the specific needs of the employee, the use of paid and un-paid leave may represent a useful way forward, whilst protecting the post of the employee where extended leave for whatever reason is necessary.

It is difficult to provide useful specific guidance in such circumstances when each case should be considered upon the individual needs of the employee concerned.

Managers should be reminded that it is their responsibility to approach staff under such circumstances to assess the individual needs.

For guidance, a period of up to 10 days paid leave in a 12 month period could be taken in the cases of urgent domestic distress (eg. bereavement or care of dependents) although, managers should consider how to use this time to the employees best advantage (eg. would having a number of half days or late start, early finish type work patterns be useful to the employee).

It is clear that line managers should treat all cases sympathetically, whilst understanding the need to maintain fairness and consistency within the workplace.


Clearly, at a time when employees require Compassionate Leave seeking to appeal a decision is not foremost in their minds. However, where an employee feels aggrieved by the manner in which compassionate leave has been addressed and the Chief Officer of the Department or Local Authority is unable to resolve the issue, an appeal may be made to the JNC.

For help and advice on how to pursue such an appeal employees should contact their local shop steward in the first instance or the Employees’ Side or Employers’ Side of the JNC (telephone contact numbers at front of this Agreement).

Last Updated - February 2016