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Purchase Additional Leave Scheme Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) Western Sydney University is committed to valuing and rewarding its employees and a work/life balance by having flexible working arrangements and schemes in place. In particular, there may be instances where an employee requires periods away from work in addition to the normal leave entitlement.

(2) The aim of the Purchase Additional Leave Scheme (PAL Scheme) is to enable Professional employees to purchase additional leave. The policy operates in accordance with and in addition to the University's commitment to flexible work arrangements as defined in the Professional Staff Agreement, the Workplace Flexibility Policy and the Code of Conduct.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(3) The following definitions apply for the purpose of this policy.

  1. Agreed leave plan - includes the dates and periods of PAL Scheme absence/s and all types of leave agreed to be taken within the twelve month period.
  2. Annualised pay - an employee's annual salary less the amount payable for the hours of purchased additional leave; the remaining amount averaged across the 12 months PAL Scheme period and paid each fortnight.
  3. Base rate of pay - is an employee's normal salary paid in accordance with the Professional Staff Agreement prior to participation in the PAL Scheme.
  4. PAL absence/s - periods of approved absence purchased and agreed upon in advance via negotiation of an agreed leave plan.
  5. PAL Scheme - a mechanism that provides employees with the ability to purchase periods of absence from work in addition to existing leave for a defined twelve month period.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(4) The University requires that the relevant supervisor consider reasonable requests from employees to access the PAL Scheme.

(5) Workload issues arising from participation in the PAL Scheme will be managed in accordance with the Professional Staff Agreement as well as the Workplace Flexibility Policy where appropriate.

(6) Recommendation of an employee's application to participate in the PAL Scheme is given by the relevant line supervisor or higher and approved by the relevant unit head. Approval is at the discretion of the University.

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Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - Eligibility and Participation

(7) Full time ongoing and fixed term professional staff engaged for 12 months of continuous employment are eligible to apply to purchase additional leave under the PAL Scheme. Staff may make such an application during their first 12 months of employment, but cannot take any purchased leave until they have completed 12 months of continuous employment.

(8) Participation in the PAL Scheme can only be initiated at the request of the employee.

PAL Agreement and Agreed Leave Plan

(9) Employees must apply at least four weeks before they wish to enter into a PAL Scheme arrangement using the PAL Scheme application form (hyperlinked).

(10) The PAL Scheme requires that the employee take four weeks annual leave in addition to the agreed PAL Scheme absences within the 12 month period.

(11) Employees must provide a reason for their request on the PAL Scheme application form, and include a schedule of dates for proposed usage of the additional leave and other annual leave.

(12) PAL absence/s and annual leave arrangements must be agreed between the employee and his/her supervisor prior to the application being forwarded to the unit head for approval.

(13) Once approved the PAL Scheme application is to be forwarded to the Office of Human Resources (HR) for processing, who will then formally advise the employee, the relevant line supervisor and the unit head of the approval. This notification will outline the agreed leave plan.

(14) If the PAL Scheme application is not approved, the unit head must provide written notification of the decision to the employee.

Term of Participation

(15) Approval on the term of participation in each instance will be limited to a twelve month period.

(16) Where an employee is currently participating in the PAL Scheme and wishes to renew the arrangement for a further twelve months, the employee must submit a new application to his/her line supervisor a minimum of four weeks prior to the end of the current PAL Scheme approval.

(17) Participation in one year does not provide automatic entitlement to participate in any subsequent year.

(18) Where an employee is participating in the PAL Scheme and changes his/her position during the term to a different work unit, they must obtain written approval from the unit head of the new work area to continue to participate in the PAL Scheme before acceptance of the new role. Approval to continue participation will be based on the organisational requirements of the new position and at the discretion of the unit head of that area.

Variation to the Agreement

(19) In exceptional circumstances, either party to the agreement may request to vary the agreement with a minimum of four weeks written notice. Approval to vary an agreement will be considered on a case by case basis by the unit head/Dean.

(20) Employees wishing to revert to their substantive work arrangements prior to the end of the current PAL Scheme approval will be accommodated to the extent possible, taking into account other arrangements which may have been entered into in the workplace.

(21) In exceptional circumstances, either party to the agreement may request to terminate the agreement with less than four weeks' notice. Requests to terminate the agreement must be directed to the Executive Director, Human Resources for consideration and approval.

Annualisation of Pay

(22) An employee who has received approval to work under the PAL Scheme shall have his/her salary adjusted to be averaged over the full year and paid fortnightly.

(23) Annualised pay will be:

  1. Adjusted in line with any adjustment to salary;
  2. The basis for calculating all paid leave and superannuation;
  3. Adjusted by recalculation against actual hours worked during the PAL Scheme year should the employee cease employment.

(24) Employees considering participation in the PAL Scheme should first seek independent financial advice.

Separation of Employment

(25) Participating employees will be required to enter into an agreement through the PAL Scheme in relation to the repayment of any salary overpaid in the event of their early withdrawal from the PAL Scheme or the termination of his/her employment. Such agreement will include provision for monies to be deducted from the employee's termination payments and other such payment arrangements as may be necessary in accordance with relevant legislation.

(26) Payment in lieu of accrued annual and long service leave will be calculated at the employee's base rate of pay and included in the final payment.

(27) An employee whose position is made redundant will be paid severance pay at his/her base rate of pay in accordance with the Professional Staff Agreement.

Part B - Issues for Consideration

(28) The supervisor will consider the following issues when approving an employee's application.

  1. The principle of increasing employment flexibility for employees;
  2. No or minimal additional cost to the University;
  3. Unit operating requirements;
  4. The applicant's Annual Leave balance;
  5. Equitable outcomes for employees within the unit.

(29) Where the workload or period of the leave is such that it is deemed appropriate for the position to be filled while the participating employee is on leave, in the first instance remaining employees should be offered the opportunity to undertake higher duties or secondment. This option is to be considered in accordance with the career development guidelines contained within the Professional Staff Agreement and may be actioned via an expression of interest. Otherwise, casual employment may be considered and appropriate action taken.

Part C - Leave Taken or Accruing within the PAL Scheme Period

PAL

(30) PAL can be purchased in blocks of one week, to a maximum of eight weeks.

(31) PAL can be taken as a minimum of one full day on each occasion.

(32) PAL cannot be accrued. In the exceptional circumstance that an employee is unable to participate as agreed within his/her PAL Scheme plan, formal notice must be provided to HR. In this circumstance, the employee's salary will be adjusted accordingly at the end of the agreement.

(33) PAL may be re-credited if the participating employee falls sick during the PAL leave and provides a medical certificate which states they are unfit for work in the relevant period as proof of illness or incapacity.

(34) Leave loading is not paid on PAL absence/s.

Annual Leave

(35) During the term of the PAL Scheme, annual leave entitlements will continue to accrue in accordance with the Professional Staff Agreement. Annual leave accrued during the period of the PAL Scheme will, however, be paid at the annualised pay rate. In the event that the approved leave plan requires more annual leave than is accrued during the term of the PAL Scheme, the employee's leave balance available at the day prior to the commencement of the PAL Scheme will be utilised.

(36) Leave loading entitlements during the period of the PAL Scheme will be calculated on the annualised pay rate.

Other Leave and Public Holidays

(37) All other leave continues to accrue at the employee's base rate during the term of the PAL Scheme and in accordance with the Professional Staff Agreement.

(38) All other leave taken during the term of the PAL Scheme will be paid at the annualised pay rate.

(39) Public holidays and concessional days which fall during the term of the PAL Scheme will be paid at the annualised pay rate.

Part D - Impact on Conditions or Entitlements

Flexible Working Arrangements

(40) An employee participating in the PAL Scheme may continue to work under the University's flexible working arrangements as defined in the Professional Staff Agreement, subject to the supervisor's approval, during the term of the PAL Scheme.

Higher Duties Allowance

(41) If an employee participating in the PAL Scheme becomes eligible for a higher duties allowance, the appropriate allowance will be paid commensurate with the annualised rate and subject to approval by the unit head to continue in the PAL Scheme.

Overtime

(42) Where overtime is approved during the term of the PAL Scheme it shall be paid at the base rate of pay in accordance with the requirements of the General Staff Agreement.

Superannuation

(43) Employees who are considering applying for the PAL Scheme should seek independent financial advice and also contact the University Superannuation Officer for superannuation implications, prior to an application being made.

(44) A participating employee may elect to contribute superannuation at the base rate of pay for the period of the PAL Scheme. If this option is elected the University as the employer will also contribute at the participant's base rate of pay for the period of the PAL Scheme.

(45) A participating employee may elect to contribute superannuation at the annualised pay rate, being the fortnightly rate of pay after adjustment for annualisation. Under this option, the University as the employer, will also contribute at the annualised rate of pay for the period of the PAL Scheme.

Worker's Compensation

(46) Normal workers compensation rules, regulations, policy and procedure will apply. In the circumstances where workers compensation becomes payable during a period when an employee is participating in the PAL Scheme, any absence will be paid at the annualised pay rate.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(47) Nil.