31 January 2023
As strike action continues to spread throughout England and Wales, across seemingly all areas of the public sector, the impact on our members continues to grow as strikes begin to further affect the ability to work on designated shifts. This is down to a variety of reasons which have now been added to as dates have been announced for regional and national teacher strikes.
Fortunately, the dates currently announced leave sufficient time to put in place alternative care arrangements of children or dependents should members be working on a strike day. Of course, it may prove impossible to arrange cover and as a result cause unnecessary stress and confusion.
If you are unaware, in these strange times of public sector strikes and seemingly never-ending disruption to all our routines, your right to Time Off for Dependants (TOfD) could save the day as you struggle to balance all the demands placed on us as police officers and as parents and/or carers.
The imminent teacher strikes are precisely the unexpected situation that the provisions set out in the TOfD framework are designed for.
Here’s a roundup of what TOfD is and how it could help you.
For employees TOfD is a statutory benefit that derives from the Employment Rights Act 1996, and is generally unpaid. Similar provisions to this Act were incorporated into Police Regulations and Determinations (Annex T) in 2003.
Fortunately, in Police Regulations TOfD is classed as duty, and as such is an entitlement to paid leave – so you can take the leave needed without burdening yourself with the added financial worry of dropping paid shifts. This can be misunderstood if the entitlement has not been properly interpreted, so it’s always worth clarifying this, especially if you know a colleague is struggling.
Because TOfD is paid leave, there is often a misconception that the entitlement is limited to just a couple of days a year, but there is in fact, no limit to how many days can be taken under the entitlement. Life is rarely regular, and an officer may not need to make use of the entitlement for many years, then 6 or 7 times in a single year. As long as the leave is necessary, there is no limit on the number of occasions a year it can be used.
TOfD is about caring, providing support and dealing with unexpected situations that affect people who depend on us, and as such is well placed to cover a whole variety of circumstances that include strike days by public services if it impacts you, even when these are known about and understood well in advance.
Please be aware that TOfD is available to all who may need it over the coming strike days. The vast majority of Police Officers will be able to call on their back up arrangements or put in place arrangements if their child’s school is closed due to a strike for example, but a small minority will not and they have the right to avail themselves of this entitlement rather than taking annual leave.
Don’t let terms such as “carers’ leave” or “emergency leave” confuse you – these terms do not truly reflect what TOfD is for and how is can be used, and in our experience are mistakenly used without sufficient recourse to the entitlements of TOfD.
If you would like to better understand TOfD you can read more here.