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Study Leave Policy

The purpose of this document is to establish policy and guidelines for staff in relation to the granting of study time leave. Study time leave is paid leave granted to employees for part time studies in approved courses. It is equally accessible to all eligible employees and is used to promote a highly trained and skilled workforce responsive to the requirements of the Government.
Subject  Policy on the Granting of Study Time Leave  
Date of effect  August 2001
Date of last review  26 March 2009
Date due for review  26 March 2012
Previous policy Policy on the granting of study time leave ( Mar 2001)
Policy number  CP01/9
File number  97/0442
Contact Human Resources Manager

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to establish policy and guidelines for staff in relation to the granting of study time leave.

Study time leave is paid leave granted to employees for part time studies in approved courses.  It is equally accessible to all eligible employees and is used to promote a highly trained and skilled workforce responsive to the requirements of the Government.

The objectives of study time leave are:

  • To assist employees to undertake study which is relevant to the department or Public Service, and which improves their ability to perform their duties;
  • To develop the skills, versatility and adaptability of people working in the Public Service;
  • To provide an opportunity for employees who have suffered educational disadvantage to bridge gaps in their educational qualifications;
  • To encourage employees to pursue the highest standards in courses of study which promote excellence in performance of departmental functions;
  • To enhance the employability of employees, to help them to become more competitive in the labour market and more attractive to public and private employees; and
  • To provide a tangible expression of the commitment to employee development in a cost effective way.

Policy statement

This policy does not replace study time/leave entitlements under the Crown Employee (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award. Information provided in this policy is based on the details provided in the Personnel Handbook (Section 6 - 20).

State Records endorses the principle that staff should be encouraged and, where possible, assisted to undertake study in courses which develop their professional and work skills. State Records also acknowledges that staff will need to keep up to date with new developments/trends in a rapidly changing work environment, and may regularly need to "re-skill" themselves by undertaking courses.

Parallel to this policy, State Records will continue to send staff to appropriate short courses and provide in-house training to ensure that staff develop and enhance the skills and key competencies necessary to both the current and future business needs of the organisation.

State Records believes that a mix of these two approaches will ensure that staff are given an opportunity to develop relevant skills, and are encouraged to be proactive in developing their own skills and planning their own career development.

Practices and procedures

Power to grant or refuse

Study leave is subject to the relevance of the course and departmental convenience. The State Records Executive have the delegation to grant, and to refuse, study leave.

Eligibility

All officers and temporary employees, both full and part-time are eligible to apply for study leave.  Study time leave of up to four hours weekly may be granted to full time employees and pro rata to part time employees

Departmental convenience

The granting of study leave is subject to departmental convenience. State Records must ensure that an adequate level of service is maintained, that any additional leave can be made up efficiently and that any study leave arrangements are adequately supervised. Study leave may not be granted if output and service levels are likely to significantly affected.

Use of study leave

Study leave may be used for:

  • attending compulsory lectures, tutorials, residential schools, field days, or the like, when these are held during working hours;
  • private study or research;
  • travel to any of the above activities and from them if during working hours; or
  • may be accumulated for use at a later time, subject to the operational requirements of the department.

Accumulated study leave may be taken in any pattern or at any time, however, the actual arrangements must be negotiated between the employee and their Manager/Supervisor.

Study leave is not granted for subjects being repeated.

Criteria for approved courses of study

In determining the suitability of a program of study for approval, the department head should consider:

  • the relevance and value of the program to the department or the Public Service;
  • the contribution the program is likely to make to enhancing the employability of the employee;
  • the benefits of the program to the Service, the department and the employee in relation to the costs in time and impact on departmental services.

Appropriate courses for approval should meet the following criteria:

  • Leading to a recognised qualification.
    • a TAFE special course; or
    •  a bridging/qualifying course; or
    • an incidental subject forming part of a course for which study leave would be approved, and the incidental subject is of relevance to the department or Service.
  • Administered  by a public institution
    • Accredited by the Higher Education Unit of the Ministry of Education and Youth Affairs; or
    • Leading to membership of a registered professional association.
  • Able to be taken part time by full time employees.

Employees undertaking courses by distance education, open learning or correspondence may be granted study time leave provided that their study program and the institution offering it satisfy the criteria as set out above.  Study time leave of up to four hours a week may be granted for distance programs equivalent to a standard part time course on campus (or half of a standard full time program) and a pro rata grant for less demanding programs.

Relevance of the study course

Relevance of the course can mean relevant to the Public Service in general (for example, financial, administration, human resource management, industrial relations) or relevant to State Records in particular (for example, information management, electronic recordkeeping, conservation).

State Records employs a number of different categories of employees, and each category has its own range of duties and skill requirements. For each category of employee the types of courses deemed relevant may vary. Consequently, different employees applying for study leave for the same course may not all have their applications granted.

In considering future applications for study time leave, the relevance of the course will be an important factor in determining the outcome (granted or refused); and the position of the employee applying will be an important factor in determining the relevance of the course.

Value to the department and the employee

In determining whether it is appropriate to grant study time leave, the following should be considered:

  • The number and length of proposed absences, whether for attendance at classes or private study;
  • Any proposal to combine study time leave with other leave to increase the length of absence; and
  • Any proposal for how and when any additional study time will be made up.

Departments must ensure that an adequate level of service to the public is maintained, that additional time can be made up efficiently and that study time leave arrangements are adequately supervised.

Calculation of study leave grant

Half an hour is granted for every hour of class attendance required, up to a maximum grant of four hours per week.

Where there are block attendance requirements or field days, the grant is calculated by:

  • totalling the attendance requirement, in hours, for the semester
  • dividing this amount by two; and
  • dividing this by the number of weeks in the semester that lectures are held.

The resultant amount, or 4 hours, whichever is the lesser, is the weekly amount granted.

Study time leave is not to be taken on any week when classes are not attended. If an employee attends more than one class, the weekly study time leave should be reduced correspondingly when one of these classes is not attended.

Study time leave is an expendable grant, which if not used at the nominated time, is lost. If an emergency situation occurs, a person may have to give up their normal study time leave. If circumstances allow, however, such time may be granted on another day during the same week.

Block attendance entitlements

Some courses require substantial block attendance to allow students to undertake compulsory practical work experience.  If such attendance is compulsory, and the Director is satisfied that the study program is of significant value to the Department, the Public Service and the employee, the Director may grant a block of leave which is either additional to, or instead of, accumulated weekly leave, as set out below:

  • Up to 10 days Study Time Leave may be granted in addition to accumulated weekly leave, or
  • Up to 20 days Study Time Leave may be granted instead of accumulated weekly leave.

Courses involving Research and Thesis

Block periods of study time leave may be granted to employees for the research and thesis or major project preparation required for -

  • higher degrees;
  • qualifying studies for admission to higher degrees; or
  • honours studies.

These block periods may be granted on the following basis:

  • When a course at any level involves a thesis or major project as well as coursework, the usual study time leave would be granted for the coursework, and 10 days study time leave for the thesis or major project preparation.
  • For qualifying studies entirely by thesis the grant is 10 days leave.
  • For masters degree studies by research and thesis only, the total grant is:
    • 25 days leave for courses of 2 years minimum duration; and
    • 35 days leave for courses of 3 years or more minimum duration.
  • For doctoral studies, the total grant for the course is 45 days leave.

More than one course studied at the one time

Study leave may be granted for more than one course at the same time provided that the two courses together do not impose an unreasonable load and the resulting attendance pattern is convenient to the department.  Regardless of the number of courses studied at one time, the maximum grant remains four hours per week.

Combining flex/recreation leave with study leave

Flex or recreation leave may be combined with study leave to cover a full day’s absence from duty, subject to departmental convenience.

Repeated subjects

Study time leave is not to be granted for subjects being repeated.

Additional study leave

If an employee granted study time leave for an approved course of study is unable to accommodate necessary absences within the four hours allowed, and recreation leave, flex leave or leave without pay to cover the gap is not available or not chosen, the department head may approve additional study time leave.

Any approved study leave in excess of four hours a week must be made up either in advance or in retrospect. 

Special leave – examinations

Employees attending any examinations approved by the State Records Executive are entitled to special leave of up to a maximum of 5 days in any one year.  Special leave granted to attend examinations includes leave for any necessary travel to or from the place at which the examination is held. 

If the examination is held during the term or semester within the normal class timetable and study time leave has been granted to the employee, no further leave is granted for the examination.

Monitoring study time leave

Departments should ensure:

  • that employees granted study time leave have completed their enrolment;
  • that employees are continuing with the course for which the leave is granted;
  • that the employee’s attendance pattern is the most convenient for the department (as well as for the employee) if there is a choice of attendance times; and
  • additional study time leave, in excess of four hours per week, is made up.

Procedure for applying for study leave

All staff considering applying for study leave should first discuss this with their Manager/Supervisor. All staff applying for study leave should complete an application form (obtainable from the Human Resources Manager), and give the form to their Manager/Supervisor.  Along with the application form the employee should provide:

  • official evidence of enrolment
  • written documentation detailing the direct relevance of the course to your career
  • a copy of your timetable showing hours and dates of lectures

If you are undertaking a course via correspondence/distance education, you must also include evidence of the equivalent hours that you would be have been required to attend if you had not been undertaking the course via correspondence.

The Manager/Supervisor will then make his/her recommendation and pass the application form along to the appropriate State Records Executive. The application will then either be granted or refused.

Refusal of study leave applications

Where a department decides to refuse an application for study leave, it should ensure that:

  • timely advice is given to the applicant to allow them to consider alternatives;
  • feedback is available to assist applicants in considering alternatives;
  • the reasons for refusal are clearly and promptly stated, in writing, to the applicant;
  • the applicant is informed of their right to have the decision reviewed;
  • if an internal review is requested, it is conducted independently and promptly, preferably through existing grievance mechanisms (i.e.. State Records Grievance and Dispute Procedures); and
  • if the decision to refuse study time leave is later reversed, the department head may decide to grant the study time leave applied for retrospectively: that is, to allow accumulation of study time leave for such a period, or recredit other leave taken instead of study time leave.

Enquiries

For further information on actual entitlements or other enquiries, please contact your supervisor or the Human Resources Manager on (02) 9673 1788.

References

Personnel Handbook, October 2000 Edition (Section 6-20);

Public Sector Management (General) Regulation 1996, Part 6, Division 11;

Public Employment Office Determination (Study Leave)

Endorsements

The policy contained herein has been developed in consultation with the PSA and endorsed by State Records.

 

 

Alan Ventress
Director

26 March 2009