How can I request leave for exceptional circumstances?


During term time you may have to request leave for exceptional circumstances. This may be due to a range of reasons from attending jury service, going to a graduation ceremony to attending a wedding.

Your school may have a special or exceptional staff leave policy which you will need to consult before requesting leave. In addition, your Local Authority or academy trust, might have a policy outlining details on requesting leave under exceptional circumstances.

Notify your line manager as soon as possible

Where possible, it is best to notify your line manager as soon as you know the date you will have to take leave for exceptional circumstances. You can send a short letter or email to your line manager explaining the circumstances and the amount of time you expect to be away from school. It would also be useful to have a conversation with them outlining the specific circumstances in further detail.

Who will approve my leave for exceptional circumstances?

It will be at the discretion of your headteacher to decide to approve a leave request. On some occasions, your headteacher will have to take the request to the school’s governing body.

Am I allowed to take time off to look after ‘dependents’?

As part of the Employment Rights Act 1996, you are entitled to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to look after dependants. The term ‘dependant’ is defined in the Act as an employee’s spouse or civil partner, child, parent, or person living in the same household (other than a tenant or lodger).

You will be able to take time off school:

  • To provide assistance on an occasion when a dependent falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted
  • To make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependent who is ill or injured
  • In consequence of the death of a dependant
  • Because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant
  • To deal with an incident which involves your child which occurs unexpectedly in a period while they are at an educational establishment

As outlined above, in the majority of instances, you should be entitled to take time off from school to deal with unexpected family emergencies.

What happens if my leave is approved?

Depending on the circumstances, you might be expected to plan lessons for the days you will be away from school. This will be outlined in your school’s policy. The policy will also include details on the number of days of paid leave you are entitled to.

Leave for exceptional circumstances: what happens if it is not approved?

If you think your school has not given you a reasonable leave of absence due to exceptional circumstances please contact us.

You may have a right to appeal the decision if you believe your school has not acted fairly or consistently in relation to its leave policy.

Was this article helpful?

The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.