I write to you regarding the granting of three additional days of paid leave from 27 to 29 December 2017.
2017 has been a challenging year in which many staff have had to work under demanding conditions and additional pressures. As a means of expressing our appreciation, and to give special recognition to the contributions of all staff, whether directly or indirectly, with regard to the successful conclusion of the end-of-year examinations, staff will be granted three days of additional paid annual leave to be taken from 27 to 29 December 2017 (unless operational requirements or special circumstances do not allow for this – see details below). This is not intended to set a precedent and is being made as a gesture to staff for 2017. The details associated with the additional leave being granted are as follow:
- The three days of 27, 28 and 29 December 2017 (Wednesday to Friday) will not be counted as leave and will not be deducted from current annual leave balances of staff, but will be treated as paid holiday.
- These three days will not be lost where they form part of compulsory leave for PASS staff, which would normally have to be taken by 31 December 2017. Human Resources (HR) will ensure that the three compulsory leave days are rolled over to 2018, when they must be taken.
- Where staff have already submitted leave forms for these days, HR will ensure that these days are not deducted from leave balances.
- With regard to leave arrangements for academic staff, it is widely recognised that the period of 27 to 29 December already forms part of the annual leave for academic staff. While academic annual leave is ordinarily not carried over into the following year, academic staff must be allowed to take these three additional annual leave days during 2018 when operationally possible.
- Where staff are not able to take leave on these three days due to operational requirements and critical services, arrangements must be made for these staff to benefit from these three additional leave days. In other words, those staff who are required to work between Christmas and New Year must be able to take the three days in 2018 when operationally possible. This includes, for example, staff who need to complete work during this time, those who form part of skeleton staffing arrangements for continuity, those needing to attend meetings, and staff who need to work shifts. Staff who are not rostered to work shifts on these days must be able to take these days during 2018 when operationally possible.
- In the spirit of inclusivity and in recognition of all staff, the granting of the three additional days will apply to all UCT staff, including those who are research funded. It is recognised and appreciated that the additional days come at a cost to the research endeavour, where leave provisions are carried and managed by research unit heads. Staff who are research funded and cannot take the given days on 27 to 29 December 2017 must be able to take these days during 2018 when operationally possible.
Staff are currently allowed to leave at 12:30 on Christmas eve. This is practice, not policy, and is not announced publicly but managed informally at the level of faculties, departments or sections. Where Christmas falls on a day which is preceded immediately by a working day, implementation of the practice is straightforward, but not necessarily consistent across the university in terms of the time staff are allowed to leave and in how skeleton staffing arrangements are managed.
In addition to the above, there are two incidents in a seven-year cycle (2016 and 2017) when Christmas is on either a Sunday or a Monday, giving rise to numerous queries about whether staff are still allowed to leave at 12:30 on the last working day before Christmas, ie the Friday.
In order to ensure clarity and consistency in practice:
- Unless operational requirements or special circumstances do not allow for this, staff should be allowed to leave at 12:30 on the last working day before Christmas, even where Christmas falls on a Sunday or Monday. For 2017 this means that unless operational requirements or special circumstances do not allow for this, staff should be allowed to leave at 12:30 on 22 December.
- Where operational requirements do not allow staff to leave at 12:30 on 22 December, arrangements must be made to grant time off in lieu to those staff at a time during 2018 when it is operationally possible to do so. This includes, for example, staff who need to complete work during this time, those who form part of skeleton staffing arrangements for continuity, those who need to attend meetings and staff who are rostered to work shifts on this day. Being granted time off at another time in the year for this purpose will not apply to staff who are not rostered to work a shift on the 22 December 2017.
Dr Max Price
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