Managing requests for special or general leave without pay
Last updated: June 30, 2021
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To approve special and general leave requests, BC Public Service managers and supervisors need to gather information about:
- The nature or type of the leave being requested
- The dates of the leave. Are they scheduled workdays? If not, leave may not be required
- This is of particular importance when a part-time employee is requesting a leave
- Whether the employee is already on leave. If so, typically 'leave while on leave' is not granted, though there are some exceptions
- For example, in Article 18.5 of the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) Main Agreement, Approved Leave of Absence With Pay, specific leaves can be used to displace vacation leave
- The brief reasons for the leave. You need enough information to know whether the request is appropriate under the language of the collective agreement
- For example, for a leave to move one’s residence, is the actual move on a workday? If not, and the leave is really to pack ahead of the actual move, which is a Saturday (assuming the employee works Monday to Friday), then it's not covered by this leave and the request should not be approved. Instead, the employee can use their own time (vacation or earned time off) or leave without pay for that day, assuming operational requirements permit
- Operational requirements and the nature of the request. Is it an 'absolutely necessary' kind of request, or is it a 'desirable' kind of request? Approval for the former should prevail over approval of the latter
The key is to get enough information about the leave requested so you can make a decision.
Many special leaves are only available if leave from work is needed; for part-time employees, if they're not scheduled to work when a leave situation arises, they do not need leave from work, so they're not eligible for the leave.
BCGEU Main Agreement examples are cited here, but these questions can be applied to special leave requests made under other collective agreements that apply to employees in the provincial government.
When presented with a request for LWOP, additional considerations should factor into your decision:
- This leave is always without pay and requested in writing; if approved, the approval is also in writing. Remember that LWOPs under Article 20.10 of the BCGEU Main Agreement continue to earn seniority if they're less than 30 calendar days in length
- If they're longer than 30 calendar days, no seniority is accrued for the entire length of the leave. Also, the employee is not eligible for statutory holiday pay if the holiday falls in the general leave period (assuming the initial leave is going to be longer than 30 calendar days). This leave is not available to auxiliary employees per Article 31.6
- Leave approvers have to balance need for the leave with operational requirements
- Employees are not eligible for STIIP and LTD benefits while on LWOP
- If the leave is longer than 30 calendar days, they're responsible for paying the premiums to maintain their benefits. Review Benefits while on leave or layoff on Careers & MyHR for more information
When assessing a general leave request, consider:
- The extent of the employee’s need for the leave (along a gradient from 'absolutely necessary' to 'desirable')
- The extent of the employer’s need to have that particular employee at work during the requested leave period
- Are additional (and demonstrable) costs going to be incurred by the employer?
- Are other employees available to do the work?
- Does the work have to be done at that particular time?
- Has sufficient notice been provided to allow the employer to make alternative work arrangements?
- Any other demonstrable matters which may affect the employer’s needs
While the examples cited refer to the BCGEU Main Agreement, the same considerations must be made for leave without pay requests arising from other collective agreements that apply to employees of the provincial government.
To recover an employee's time attending union meetings/business, and for information on crediting branches for leave taken and receiving remittance cheques from the union, please review the Union leave recovery process.
If an employee is returning from leave before originally anticipated, submit an Early Return to Work Form (IDIR restricted); it'll go directly to the HR and Payroll team.
To use this form, you must have the authority to make changes to the employee's record. If you receive a message indicating that you're not authorized, contact your ministry representative (XLS, 54KB).
There are mandatory fields for you to fill out; the rest of the fields are auto-populated based on the employee ID entered and the data in CHIPS.
Use the Form Help link located in the tool for guidance.