The facts of leave

NZPA | Thu March 1st, 2018

Everything you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.

Leave planner

What is my leave entitlement?

Constabulary employees are entitled to 20 annual leave days (25 after five years’ service), 11 statutory holidays and 2 Commissioner’s holidays (there is no entitlement to Commissioner’s holidays after five years).

Non-constabulary employees are entitled to 20 annual leave days (25 after 5 years), 11 statutory holidays and 3 Commissioner’s days (there is no entitlement to Commissioner’s holidays after five years).

How does leave accrue?

Leave balances are updated in MyPolice overnight. Statutory holidays and Commissioner’s days are accrued as they occur.

Your entitlement to Shift Workers Leave is calculated throughout the year and your balance will adjust accordingly throughout the year. It is important that your timesheets are up to date so all qualifying hours/shifts are included for calculation.

Where a statutory holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is transferrable to the following Monday (Mondayised). The next time this happens won’t be till 2020 when both Anzac Day and Boxing Day fall on a Saturday.

What is a “leave year”?

All employees have their own “leave year” starting from the date they joined Police – their “anniversary” date. For example, if an employee joined Police on October 15, 2008, their current leave year is October 15, 2017, to October 14, 2018.

Police managers often use the date of June 30 to manage leave because this is the end of the financial year and they want to reduce leave liability. However, June 30 has no relevance to leave-year dates (unless you started then), which should be tied only to an employee’s individual leave year.

What’s the deal with “leave plans”?

Police can expect its employees to have a “leave plan”, which is a reasonable and sound expectation for managing leave. The leave plan should cover an employee’s particular leave year and:

• Ensure employees have the opportunity to take their leave

• Ensure employees are properly consulted about taking their leave, so they can, as far as possible, take leave when they want to. Any discussions about leave should be two-way

• Take operational requirements into account. Both employees and managers need to plan around this. Police should not cancel an employee’s leave at the last minute when an operation should have been planned earlier or if an operation can wait until the employee returns from leave;

• Be flexible. The leave plan is a “living” document and amendments may be needed due to unforeseen operational requirements and changes in the employee’s personal circumstances. It is reasonable to expect employees to have a leave plan, but a reasonable plan includes some flexibility.

The difference between leave entitlement and leave accruing

As if it’s not complicated enough, leave falls into two categories – your leave entitlement and your leave accruing.

Leave entitlement is the balance of your unused leave on your anniversary date. For example, if your anniversary date is October 15, your leave year begins on October 15 each year. If, on October 15 this year, you have a leave balance of 22 days, this is your “leave entitlement”.

Leave accruing is the leave you have accumulated since your anniversary date. If this leaves remain unused by your next anniversary date, it becomes your leave entitlement. For example, on October 15, 2017, you started accruing leave and any unused leave before October 15, 2018, will be your leave accruing. After October 15, 2018, any unused leave becomes your leave entitlement.

Although the Police system does not separate out your leave entitlement and your leave accruing balances, it is important when establishing your maximum 50 days of leave because this accumulation does not include leave accrued.

How much leave can I accumulate?

Employees do not have to take their whole leave entitlement in one year. Under their respective collective agreements, members can hold a balance of 50 days without approval from Police.

This means that before your next anniversary date, you can have a balance of 50 days’ leave. The day after your anniversary date, your leave balance is then made up of the two leave types – leave entitlement and leave accruing.

For example: You have 50 days’ leave on your anniversary date of October 15, 2017 (leave entitlement); by March 2018 you have accrued another 10 days leave (leave accruing); your total leave balance is 60 days. This complies with the CEA as long as your leave balance is at or below 50 days by your next anniversary date of October 15, 2018.

Although 50 days’ leave should not be treated as a target, it is an entitlement under the collective.

For all Police staff, accumulated leave can be a combination of annual leave, statutory holidays, Commissioner’s holidays, shift workers leave, toil and DDOs (deferred days off). Constabulary employees can also include PCT (physical competency test) leave.

Your leave accumulation limit can be made up of a single type of leave or several types.

Although leave can be accumulated, the intention is that you use it for rest and recreation as part of managing your health and safety. You should aim to take some, if not most, of your leave in the year it is accumulated. That said, it is reasonable to accumulate leave for a specific purpose such as an overseas trip, family visiting, a sports tournament or a convention. This should be covered in your leave plan so Police knows your leave is being managed.

Can I be directed to take leave?

Under the Holidays Act, an employee can be told to take leave that is 12 months’ old or older if agreement can’t be reached between the employee and the employer over when leave is to be taken.

However, because your collective agreements provide a greater entitlement for leave balances (50 days), Police can make you take leave if your balance is more than 50 days (not including your leave accrued balance).

A direction to take leave should be a last resort and a reasonable employer will discuss options with you before a directive is given. The best way of avoiding such a directive is to have a leave plan so your supervisor knows your intention for your leave balance.

The Holidays Act also allows an employer to have a “close-down” period (eg, the Christmas-New Year period), but if a closedown period is scheduled, Police must give employees at least 14 days’ notice.

The Holidays Act also says annual leave should be taken on a mutually agreed date and an employee’s leave request should not be unreasonably declined. It is important for recording purposes that you apply for leave even when you believe it will be declined. This will show your intention to manage your leave balance and may be helpful if you are subsequently directed to take leave.

Can I be directed to be under a certain leave limit by June 30?

As stated earlier, every employee has their own leave year, which means that, unless your anniversary date is June 30, that date has no relevance to your leave planning. Your collective agreement allows you to hold a 50-day accumulation of leave aligned with your anniversary date.

On vacation

Ask Your Aunty ...about leave

Dear Aunty

I’m a newly promoted sergeant and have been told by my supervisors that all my staff must have a leave balance of fewer than 40 days by June 30 this year and that I need to make sure I add that as a KRA (key results area) in their next performance appraisals. I know this  doesn’t align with the CEA – what should I do?

Congratulations on your promotion! You’re now officially the meat in the sandwich between management and staff. You could include a KRA in a performance appraisal on effective leave management but, as you know, you cannot include a KRA that enforces a balance not in line with the collective. You could possibly meet the needs of both parties by having something along the lines of, “Complete a 12-month leave plan (which may be amended) and takes leave accordingly to ensure regular periods of leave for the purpose of rest and recreation”.

Dear Aunty

My leave balance is only 37 days, but I’ve been told I need to get a leave plan together for the next 12 months. Is that right?

Don’t be afraid of a leave plan! Remember, they are a “living document” and an element of flexibility is required. Leave plans also mean you can turn your mind to how best to utilise your leave entitlements over the year. Having your leave plan entered into MyPolice allows Police to consider and approve or decline your request and, therefore, gives you the ability to make appropriate plans around your leave.

Dear Aunty

Last year I was told my leave needed to be below 40 days by June 30. This year, they say it has to be below 30 days by June 30. I’m sick of it! Everyone knows our rights under the CEA – what can I do to get Police to stop?

Every year! Can they please change the record to align with the collective employment agreement! I suggest sending an email to your HR office, copying in your supervisor, saying: “I have been directed to reduce my leave balance to a level that does not align with my entitlement under the collective agreement. I am notifying you that I am exercising my right under the collective agreement to accrue up to my 50 days entitlement during my leave year (eg, October 15 to October 15) and will be planning my leave around my individual leave year.”

Dear Aunty

I know Police want my leave balance to be low, but I want to accrue leave before I retire in December. My anniversary date is December 12, which is when I want to exit, and my balance will be up around 67 days by then. Can I accumulate my leave over the 50-day maximum or do I need to get my balance down?

I love a person with a plan! If you feel comfortable about it, it’s always a good idea to let your supervisor know your intentions for your leave and, in this case, your impending exit. Your leave balance can go over the 50 days as long as your “leave entitlement” segment of it is 50 days or below and the rest of your balance is made up of “leave accruing”. For example, on December 11, your leave balance could look like this: 50 days’ leave entitlement from December 12, 2017, plus 25 days’ annual leave accrued during 2018, plus two DDOs, equals a total balance of 77 days. Police will want to know how you intend on getting below the 50 days’ leave maximum on December 12, given you’re intending to leave near your anniversary date. It’s a good idea to let Police know your plan – usually in this scenario it’s not an issue.

Dear Aunty

I work in CIB and we’ve always worked on public holidays. Now my supervisor has told our team that we are not required to work on public holidays any more and we have to take these days off as HOLs. Can they do this?

Yes. Police, as the employer, can determine whether you are required on a public holiday. It is not a right to work a statutory holiday. The whole point of statutory holidays is to give employees a day off at the same time as their family and friends as well as marking a special event. Employees should be entitled to take a statutory holiday unless there are operational requirements that require them to work. The alternative day (day in lieu) and time and a half payments are actually penalties under the Holidays Act 2003 to encourage employers to give staff the day off. To avoid this penalty, which the act encourages, most employers, Police included, require staff to have the day off unless they are absolutely needed. Take the day off and enjoy the time with your friends and family!

Dear Aunty

I’ve applied for a professional development opportunity and have been told that if I want to be considered, I need to reduce my leave balance to fewer than 30 days. Can Police do this?

No, absolutely not! Under the Code of Conduct (which applies to everyone in Police), the Commissioner has an obligation to “provide the opportunity for development and enhancement of individual abilities”. Police cannot withhold this obligation where members are exercising their rights under their respective collective agreement. You should contact your local Association field officer asap.

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