Federation challenges NPCC over leave entitlement

The Police Federation has raised concerns over the number of forces misleading officers and denying them their entitlements to Time Off for Dependants (TOfD) and Parental Bereavement Leave.

All force policies on TOfD have been examined on the beneficial entitlement, shockingly revealing just one out of 43 is close to acceptable.

Gwent Police’s policy does not properly explain what TOfD is and fails to mention it is available for officers that need to care for family members in the event of injury or illness.

Other forces claim “there is no legal right to be paid” for TOfD and several cap the number of paid days or have placed a limit on the number of days that can be taken off consecutively.

The Police Federation points out that force policies cannot override existing regulations which do not mention such restrictions or limit the number of occasions a year the entitlement can be taken.

Gwent Police Federation interim chair Christopher Back said: “It was very disappointing to hear that so many forces, including Gwent, are being deliberately vague about TOfD and bereavement leave.

“Police officers are a resilient bunch and they and their loved ones are asked to make incredible sacrifices on a daily basis but sometimes family has to come first and if one of our members needs time off to care for a sick or injured relative then they are perfectly entitled to do so.

“It is wrong for forces to come up with deliberately obscure policies designed to mislead their employees and hopefully that will now change.

“TOfD is about caring and providing support for loved ones but the Police Federation has found many forces downplay the entitlement with thin documents which fail to explain how extensive it can be.”

Police Federation national equality lead Ian Saunders said: “Time Off for Dependants and Parental Bereavement Leave is a hugely important benefit to all our members, but particularly for women, who tend to have greater responsibility for child and elderly care within families.

“Unfortunately, we have found forces systematically try to downplay, or even misrepresent these entitlements in their policies which is deeply concerning.

“The low take-up of TOfD in most forces is a sign they have effectively minimised something they should instead be actively promoting to enable those with dependants to remain as police officers and continue to serve the public.

“If this is partly a cost-cutting exercise, then forces are mistaken. The cost of losing those in service with invaluable experience massively outweighs the cost of paying officers to take this leave.

“There is also a need for culture change as we found officers taking this leave are made to feel they are letting their team down or should be grateful for taking TOfD leave even in instances where this is less than their entitlement.

“If forces want to successfully recruit and, just as importantly, retain, they need to see the bigger picture.

“We have presented our findings to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and we would urge chiefs to act upon it.”