Q1 What is a career break?
It is a period of special leave without pay which provides a formal opportunity to obtain an extended break of up to 5 years.
Q2 What are the relevant limits?
Within any 20 year period of local authority service, the maximum single period is 5 years. It is also possible to have up to three separate breaks totalling no more than 5 years. The minimum period for any break is 6 months.
Q3 What should be considered in selecting the length of period?
The length of break should be identified at the time of application. Extensions and early returns, subject to 3 months notice, can be requested but the employer is not obliged to grant either variation.
Q4 Is this my only option for a period of time away from my employment?
No. You might consider the family leave arrangements, flexible working provisions and special leave for periods of less than 6 months.
Q5 Can I add a career break onto other periods of leave?
A Career Break could be taken at the end date of maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
Q6 Are there any prescribed activities which a career break must involve?
No. However, a career break should not normally be used to undertake alternative full time employment.
Q7 What are the requirements in order to qualify?
As a teacher you must have a minimum of 2 years continuous service on a permanent or temporary contract following full registration with the GTCS
Q8 How does a career break affect continuous employment?
For statutory and contractual purposes, employment before and after the career break will be treated as continuous.
Q9 Apart from being without pay, what other changes in conditions of service should I consider?
You should take detailed advice about these aspects of career breaks.
The following changes are illustrative but are not a full statement on the matter.
- The career break does not count towards incremental progression.
- Teachers who become pregnant during career break have no entitlement to occupational (teachers') maternity pay
- Teachers who fall ill have no right to occupational sick pay.
Q10 Are there other issues on which I should seek advice?
Applicants should be aware of the implications for the occupational pension (teacher's pension) and relating to NI contributions for State benefits. The period will not count towards a teacher's pension. Credit may be given with regard to NI contributions (but probably only for certain women).
Q11 What are the contact arrangements during the break?
Employees are expected to maintain informal contact whenever possible and to keep in mind the importance of this during the latter months of the break.
Q12 Do I return to the post I left?
Only if the break is 2 years or less. If more than 2 years then redeployment within the Council may be necessary and for promoted staff reference may need to be made to conservation arrangements.
Q13 How long will the application process take?
You must apply at least 3 months in advance. The employer should respond within 4 weeks and, if refused, state reasons. The initial decision can be appealed using the employer's agreed procedures.