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​​​Taking unpaid leave


Do I continue to accrue annual leave?

For periods of unpaid leave over 3 months, annual leave will be accrued for the first three months and then your entitlement on HR Connect will be suspended for the remaining period and reinstated on your return date. For periods of unpaid leave of less than 3 months, annual leave will continue to accrue during the unpaid leave period.

Do I maintain my continuous service?

Continuity of employment is maintained during any periods of unpaid leave which means there is no break in service during your absence from work.

Do I continue to receive Increments & Cost of Living Increases?

Any increments due to be paid or cost of living increases will be applied as normal and your salary will be adjusted accordingly on your return.   

What impact will this have on my pension?

The period of unpaid leave will not count towards pension benefits. You can choose to buy back the lost pension during the absence if you are a member of Lothian Pension Fund. You can find more information and an online calculator here. If you choose to purchase the lost pension through APCs within 30 days of returning to work, the cost will be split between you and the University.


If you are a member of the Scottish Teachers Superannuation scheme, any period of unpaid leave is regarded as non-pensionable, therefore you will not be able to pay scheme contributions during this period – or to cover any ‘missed’ contributions by paying extra when you return to work.   


For both schemes, you are able to purchase additional voluntary pension contributions to mitigate against the unpaid leave period. Financial advice can be sought from Tilney or your own financial adviser, about the impact of periods of unpaid leave.


Contact details for the pension providers are available here.

What if I want to return early?

When you apply you are committing to taking the full period of unpaid leave, however you can request to return early (giving at least one month’s notice), but there is no obligation for the University to agree this, however we will try wherever operationally possible to accommodate this.

What happens in Restructuring/Redundancy situations?

If during unpaid leave, your role is part of an area which is subject to restructuring, you will be included in consultations and communications, in the same way, as if you had not been on unpaid leave.

Will I return to the same role?

It is expected that you will be able to return to your current role. For periods of unpaid leave, over 6 months, you will be able to return to your current role or an alternative role at the same Grade.   If the School/Service is subject to restructuring and your role is no longer available, all options will be explored with you during the consultation process.

Can I work during unpaid leave?

During unpaid leave, your current contractual obligations regarding working elsewhere continue to apply and you should ensure that there is no conflict of interest. You must obtain approval from your Dean/Director if you wish to take up employment elsewhere.