June 26, 2022 7.00 am This story is over 24 months old

Lincolnshire Police defends emergency leave policy after national criticism

Police Federation found 42 of 43 forces fail to meet standards

By Local Democracy Reporter

Lincolnshire Police has defended its policy for forms of compassionate and emergency leave, amid Police Federation accusations time off for workers is being denied.

A report by the Police Federation, the staff association body for officers across the country, found that just one of 43 forces in England and Wales met the Federation’s standards for entitlement to Time Off for Dependants (TOfD) and Parental Bereavement Leave.

TOfD is time away from work granted by employers to deal with emergencies involving a dependant, whether that be a spouse, partner, child, parent or someone else who depends on you for care. It derives from the Employment Rights Act 1996.

It is generally unpaid outside the police force, but officers are entitled to paid Time Off for Dependants as per nationally agreed standards in the Police Staff Council handbook.

This handbook says it is “normally” but not always restricted to one or two days in duration, and has no limit to the number of occasions it can be taken.

However, the Police Federation are accusing forces nationwide of “misleading” officers and “denying them their entitlements” to TOfD and Parental Bereavement Leave by merging the two together rather than them both being separate leave scenarios.

This is something that Lincolnshire Police has denied, stating that it conducted a review into the local policy with the Lincolnshire Police Federation and was “satisfied” with the findings.

| Photo: Steve Smailes

Helen Stamp, Chair of the Lincolnshire Police Federation, said: “Following publication of this report, we, along with the force, have reviewed the policy and are satisfied that the needs of our members are catered for.

“Each member will be dealt with on a case by case basis. To my knowledge we have not had a case where this has been raised by a member as a breach of regulations.”

Lincolnshire Police told The Lincolnite that the report was noted and they are content that, following an internal review alongside the local Police Federation, they meet requirements with the following circumstances:

  • Offering five days of paid special leave for all officers and staff for those unexpected incidents which may constitute as an emergency to individuals. This is a reasonable amount of leave which aligns with the principles of Annex T and enables discretion to be applied on a case by case basis subject to the circumstances each individual may be faced with.
  • Offer up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave which is outlined clearly in a separate policy document for all officers and staff.
  • Offer two weeks’ parental bereavement leave at full pay for any officer or staff member who sadly is faced with this circumstance. This is outlined in a separate procedure document.

Lincolnshire Police’s TOfD policy, according to the Police Federation’s report, uses the word “emergency”, which is not in the nationally agreed Annex T regulations, as well as “stating or implying” that this is in fact discretionary leave.

It goes on to accuse Lincolnshire Police of “incorrectly limiting the amount of leave, or paid leave, that can be taken”, but the county force met the Federation standards by mentioning TOfD’s covering of death of a dependant, as well as clearly outlining the five reasons an officer can be entitled to it.

The force responded to a Freedom of Information request from the Police Federation by saying it “reserves the right to refuse special leave in circumstances where the maximum entitlement has been taken, or where granting such leave would have a negative impact on force operations and service delivery”.

The government website states that you are allowed “a reasonable amount of time off” to manage a TOfD situation, but no set amount of time is given due to the varied nature of these requests – though this is dependant on your employers.