22 June 2022
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has raised concerns to police chiefs over the number of forces misleading officers and denying them their entitlements to Time Off for Dependants (TOfD) and Parental Bereavement Leave.
All force policies on TOfD have been examined on the beneficial entitlement, shockingly revealing just one out of 43 is close to acceptable.
TOfD is treated as duty, and duty is always paid for a police officer – yet worryingly in some areas policies state “there is no legal right to be paid”.
A number of forces also limit the number of paid days or have put a limit on the number of days that can be taken off consecutively.
Force policies cannot override regulations, and the regulations do not state such restrictions.
The regulations also do not limit the number of occasions a year the entitlement can be taken.
TOfD is about caring and providing support for loved ones, but it can also cover more than that; for instance, a widowed uncle who has no children of his own or a family friend or even a neighbour may also be covered for some parts of the entitlement if they rely on the member to make arrangements for them when they’re in difficulty.
Disappointingly, the Fed has found many forces downplay the entitlement with thin documents which fail to explain how extensive it can be.
On a positive note, an example of good practice was found in Gloucestershire Constabulary. As well as explaining the procedure, it provides practical examples of circumstances when TOfD could be taken.
Issues were also found with Parental Bereavement Leave, which is a new type of paid leave relating to the death of a child.
Many forces have chosen to devise policies that represent this as being in place of, rather than in addition to TOfD provisions.
PFEW National Equality Lead Ian Saunders said: “Time Off for Dependants and Parental Bereavement Leave is a hugely important benefit to all our members, but particularly for women, who tend to have greater responsibility for child and elderly care within families.
“Unfortunately, we have found forces systematically try to downplay, or even misrepresent these entitlements in their policies which is deeply concerning.
“The low take-up of TOfD in most forces is a sign they have effectively minimised something they should instead be actively promoting to enable those with dependants to remain as police officers and continue to serve the public.
“If this is partly a cost-cutting exercise, then forces are mistaken. The cost of losing those in service with invaluable experience massively outweighs the cost of paying officers to take this leave.
“There is also a need for culture change as we found officers taking this leave are made to feel they are letting their team down or should be grateful for taking TOfD leave even in instances where this is less than their entitlement.
“If forces want to successfully recruit and, just as importantly, retain, they need to see the bigger picture.
“We have presented our findings to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and we would urge chiefs to act upon it.”
PFEW will be analysing similar policy areas to drive positive change for members going forward.
If you are experiencing any issues with Time Off for Dependants and/or Parental Bereavement Leave, please contact your Fed rep.
All branch contact details can be found here.