Brighton Hill Community School

35. Staff Absence and Cover Policy

Information & Policies

Published on - 28-09-2018

Purpose and background

The purposes of this policy is to ensure consistent practice in granting leave of absence to staff members within a framework which respects family and other personal commitments and supports a healthy work life balance. It applies to all employees of the school with respect to procedures for staff absence. It ensures compliance with the requirement for teachers to “rarely cover” as set out in the National Agreement ‘Raising Standards and Tackling Workload (January 2003).

Policy objectives



Practice and procedures 

This policy is established and reviewed in consultation with all members of staff and professional associations represented within the school.

1. Staff Absence

Absence due to illness 

The school recognises the need for employees to be absent from school during a period of illness and that this period of absence should be sufficient to ensure a positive return to work. The school will make reasonable efforts to accommodate the impact of illness or disability and will consider a change in working conditions or role either on a temporary or permanent basis. In cases where there is a regular or sustained period of absence due to ill health, the Headteacher may refer an employee for an occupational health assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to support the employee’s return to work and identify any changes to working conditions that may be required. If an occupational health assessment recommends that an employee is no longer able to perform his/her role the school will seek to provide alternative employment or to support in applying for early retirement if appropriate. In doing this the school will ensure full compliance with disability rights legislation. (as defined under the Equality Act 2010).

Any member of staff absent for over five consecutive days, or absent on the last day or first day of any new term, will upon return need to see the appropriate SLT/ELT faculty line manager for a return to work meeting and to complete the return to work form.

Employees must telephone the school on 01256 362509 by 7.30am on the day of unplanned absences.  All employees should ensure they have this number at home.  They should also inform their direct line manager by this time.


Teaching staff who are absent must:



Support staff must:



Absence due to professional responsibilities   -   (please use cover request form)

Colleagues should endeavour to arrange meetings in non-contact/remitted time.  However, in exceptional circumstances where attendance has been requested at the request of the Headteacher or Deputy Headteacher, this must be approved in advance following the appropriate procedures.  

Examples of meetings which should be arranged in PPA, remitted time and or non-contact time:



Student support meetings linked to the role of HoY should be undertaken by the HUB (co-ordinated by the Student Support Manager) eg. CiN, TAF.  These should then be supported and followed up by HoF/HoY in their PPA, remitted time or non-contact time.

The Lead DSL may choose to support and attend Child protection meetings.

CPD/INSET – please use INSET application form

Requests for absence for training that do not meet the school’s development priorities will not be approved. Absence for professional development reasons will normally be limited to 1 fte on any one day.

All requests for CPD/INSET must be done so through the appropriate school procedure – please refer to the school document.  CPD/INSET will be considered and approved based on the school development plan and on a fair and equitable basis for all teaching and support staff and consideration will be given based on cost and budgeting.

Absence for Personal reasons 

Leave of absence for personal reasons may be granted by the Headteacher within the framework of this policy.  Any absence should be approved in advance by completing an appointment form and passing it to the Staffing & Business Leader. There may be exceptional circumstances when this is not possible and the member of staff therefore should make an appointment to see the Headteacher as soon as possible to discuss.

Criteria for approval of leave of absence are as follows:

Absence for medical appointments



Compassionate leave

Compassionate leave will normally be granted in the case of personal crises: serious illness or death of a spouse, partner or other close relative, attendance at a funeral. Requests for compassionate leave will normally be discussed with the Headteacher. There is no set limit to the length of compassionate leave although it would normally not exceed five days. It is normally granted with pay but it may be granted with or without pay at the discretion of the Headteacher. A record of the leave taken and the reasons for it will be made. A cover request  form should also be completed and authorised by the relevant staff as specified on the form.

Care of dependants

Employees are entitled to a maximum of three days paid leave to take action in one of the following circumstances:



Staff must make every effort to tell the school as soon as possible that they will be absent and the reasons for this. This leave will not exceed three days in any school year. In the case of the illness of a dependant, it would normally be expected that leave of absence will be granted for a short period of time until alternative arrangements for care can be made.   A record of the leave taken and the reasons for it will be kept. A cover request form will also need to be completed.

Other personal leave

Leave of absence may be granted for other personal reasons. This leave will not exceed three days in any school year and must be with the prior approval of the Headteacher. Leave of absence with pay will normally be granted for:



Leave of absence may be granted without pay, or arrangements made to work time in lieu if practicable, for:



A record of the leave taken and the reasons for it will be kept and a cover request form will also need to be completed.  Leave of absence in other circumstances may be granted with or without pay at the discretion of the Headteacher in line with the spirit of the procedures laid out above.

2. Flexible working

Any employee may request a reduction in working hours or flexible working hours. In deciding whether to grant this request, the Headteacher will consider whether the request is compatible with maintaining high quality of education for students and the needs of the school. Whilst every effort will be made to accommodate the request, it will not always be possible within the limitations of the school’s curriculum, timetable and operations.

3. Cover for absent teachers

The school will establish arrangements for cover for absent teachers that represent good value for money for the school, ensure a good standard of supervision and teaching for students, and comply with the national agreement to “rarely cover”.

Teaching responsibility

A teacher will be responsible for teaching of classes allocated to him/her on the school timetable and for groups formed specifically for calendared school events.

Responsibility for supervising a class normally assigned to another colleague or a combination of classes normally assigned to other colleagues will be deemed to be cover. There are some exceptions to this e.g. responsibility for supervising Year 11 students during the summer examination period when teachers of Year 11 will be deemed to have been reassigned. 

Cover supervision

The school will employ cover supervisors on the following basis: 2.8 fte to cover absence due to professional responsibilities and cover required for illness and personal reasons (calculated for the previous school year). 

Cover supervisors will be used to cover for known and unknown absences, normally for up to a period of 5 days.

Cover supervisors will not be required to prepare or mark work but will be expected to uphold high standards of work and behaviour and to follow the school’s procedures for dealing with work and behaviour that fall below an acceptable standard. The school will provide induction and training for cover supervisors and will provide supportive line management and mentoring.  For absences in excess of 5 days, the school will endeavour to provide cover by supply teachers where high quality provision is available.

Providing work for cover

The teacher assigned to a class will be expected to set work for cover lessons and complete the BHCS cover pro-forma and seating plan. In cases where this is not possible, the Faculty/Subject Leader will set work or delegate this task to another member of the department with appropriate management responsibility.

Rarely cover

There will be occasional circumstances in which it is not possible to provide supervision of lessons by cover supervisors or supply teachers. On these occasions teachers may be asked to cover for absent colleagues. 

A record of cover by teachers will be kept to ensure this is equitable and conforms to the expectation to “rarely cover”. Statistics on cover by teachers will be published termly and will be available on request.    Colleagues who are under loading should actively be expected to be taken for cover commensurate with their under loading depending on their availability and the needs of the school.

4. Monitoring and evaluation

The Headteacher and SLT will monitor and analyse the school’s record of patterns of absence (planned and unplanned) and levels of cover used on a termly basis. The SLT link will also monitor the cover required in advance weekly and where necessary make changes. The Cover Manager will notify the SLT link on an ongoing day-to-day basis of any concerns for which authorisation or changes need to be made e.g. withdrawing a member of staff from a course or meeting if cover cannot be provided without using teachers.

The policy will be monitored by the Assistant /DeputyHeadteacher with responsibility for staff development. It will be evaluated annually to ensure fair and consistent practice and reviewed by governors, following consultation with staff, on a three-year cycle.

Policy ratified: March 2018     Next review: March 2019