3.14 CAREER BREAK
Officers are eligible to apply for a career break provided they have successfully completed their probationary period.
The decision of the chief constable as to whether to accept or reject the officer’s application should be notified to the officer within 28 days of the officer’s application. Where the application is rejected, the decision should be transparent and written reasons for the rejection should, at the same time, be provided. Should an officer wish to appeal against the rejection then they should submit a notice of appeal to the Police Authority within 28 days of receipt of the chief constable’s reasons for rejection.
Any of the functions which are conferred on the chief constable in relation to career breaks may be carried out by a constable who holds the rank of chief superintendent or a higher rank.
A period, or periods, agreed between the officer and the chief constable, up to a maximum of 5 years. The chief constable has the discretion to agree a longer total period in exceptional circumstances.
The commencement and return dates, and the objectives of the career break, must be agreed by the chief constable and the officer before it commences. An officer’s career break should not extend beyond compulsory retirement age, where applicable.
(c) Return to duty
Subject to the provisions below the officer will return to duty on the return date agreed between the officer and the chief constable.
If an officer decides to return to duty from a career break before the end of the agreed period of leave, they shall be permitted, subject to there being a suitable vacancy, to return to service with the same determined hours and work pattern within one month of giving notice of the wish to return. In any event the officer should return within three months of having given notice.
Officers should not be required to return to duty from a career break before the agreed date without their consent. However, the career break objectives and timescales may be reviewed at any time during the career break by agreement between the chief constable and the officer.
Officers will be under a general duty to inform the chief constable of any circumstances which may affect the agreed objectives or timescales of a career break. During the career break the constable must not undertake full-time education or activities for which they are paid or reimbursed expenses or which involve them in the sale of goods or services, by way of business, except with the prior agreement of the chief constable.
Where the chief constable has reasonable grounds to believe that the agreed objectives and timescales of a career break may not be achievable, the chief constable may require the constable to attend a review. Following such a review, the chief constable may require the constable to return to duty after a minimum notice period of one month, provided that if the chief constable is minded to require the constable to return to duty the chief constable must allow the constable the opportunity to make representations before a final decision is made.
(e) Conditions of service
Officers will not be paid during career breaks and service will not count for the purposes of reckoning entitlement to pay and annual leave. An officer’s rank and pay point will be protected for the duration of the career break. Entitlement on return will be identical to that on commencement of a career break, subject to relevant changes in Regulations, PNB agreements or Police Circulars. Provision should be made for granting any remaining annual leave entitlement due to the officer before the commencement of the career break.
(f) Maternity provisions
Police officers who become pregnant while on a career break are entitled to the same occupational maternity benefits as officers not taking a career break. An officer on a career break who becomes pregnant must give notice, as soon as reasonably practicable after they become pregnant, of the expected date of birth of their child. The provisions of the occupational maternity scheme will then take effect and the career break will be suspended (unless the officer, in giving notice of their pregnancy confirms that they do not wish to enjoy the provisions of the occupational maternity leave scheme). Resumption of the career break in due course should be subject to further agreement between the chief constable and the officer.