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Career break scheme

Information on the career break scheme


Torbay Council recognises the advantages of introducing a Career Break Scheme in order to retain skilled and experienced employees who require a long break from work. It enables employees to resume their careers following a break without necessarily having to start again in another area and therefore our Career Break Scheme is treated as a period of long-term unpaid leave.

Career Breaks are provided in order that employees may undertake specific activities to aid a work/life balance. Career Breaks may be requested for the following reasons:

  • To care for dependants (children or adults) (NB if caring for Children, “Parental Leave” is available as an alternative)
  • Education/Study
  • Travel/Leisure
  • Voluntary or community work (with an organisation, or for a purpose, that the Council finds acceptable)
  • Other significant reasons, at the discretion of the Divisional Director following consultation with Human Resources, where there will be mutual benefit

Employees on a Career Break must not undertake any other new paid employment (of broadly the same number of hours they usually work) or enter into other commitments that will prevent the fulfilment of their obligations.

The following allowances apply:

Minimum length of break allowed: 3 months

Maximum length of break allowed:12 months

The number of Career Breaks an employee may apply for during their employment is subject to discussions with the individual’s line manager/Divisional Director. As a guide, a total break or breaks of one year in any five years would normally be the maximum accommodated.

At the end of the Career Break, the employee reserves the right to return to their previous post.

Replacement cover must be provided on a temporary basis (the reason for appointment being to cover the employee who is on a Career Break). Should a Redundancy situation arise during the Career Break, the employee must be consulted with fully and normal redundancy procedures apply.

Line managers should consider using the Career Break to provide a secondment/development opportunity for other staff in the first instance.

Periods of occasional paid work with Torbay Council may be arranged, by mutual agreement, during the Career Break. This should generally be similar work to that undertaken prior to the break and should enable skills to be updated as necessary. Such work may include cover for holidays, maternity or sick leave or to assist during periods of peak workload.


The scheme is open to all employees who:

  • Have at least one year’s continuous service with Torbay Council at the date of application to the scheme
  • Have at least one years’ service remaining after the break
  • Have been assessed as wholly satisfactory in all aspects of job performance and have no current disciplinary warnings against them. (Where no formal assessment of performance has taken place, the employee’s manager should be satisfied that performance has generally been of adequate standard).

It may not always be possible to accommodate a request for a Career Break due to the needs of the organisation. Circumstances where a career break request may need to be declined or postponed are:

  • Where the employee has been appointed to cover for another member of staff (Temporary) or to carry out a specific task (Fixed Task) for example, painting a building or inputting specific data
  • Inability to recruit additional staff or reorganise work among existing staff
  • A substantial negative impact on service delivery
  • The activity could potentially affect the employee’s ability to return to work (e.g. dangerous pursuits).



During the Career Break, the individual remains an ‘employee’ of the Council and therefore rules concerning the following still apply:-

  • Confidentiality & data protection;
  • Conflict of interest;
  • Media protocol/statements to the press;
  • Copyright;
  • Acceptance of fees/rewards;
  • Financial, prejudicial or political interests; and
  • Conduct (including conduct outside of work that could damage the reputation of the Council);

Such rules are laid out in the Code of Conduct and HR policies/procedures, all available from MyView, under My Documents.

The employee must not undertake work/act as a representative of the Council without express permission of their line manager.

The employee should remain up to date with their area of work on a regular basis, as reasonably practicable.

It is the employee’s responsibility to inform Torbay Council of any changes to personal circumstances including a change of contact details but in particular those that relate to a criminal conviction, Police caution, reprimand or warning, or any changes in health (which may affect work) during the career break.

Line Managers

Line managers must treat all requests fairly and equitably and notify a Human Resources Advisor/Manager.

During the Career Break, line managers must take all reasonable steps to keep the individual informed about any changes that affect their future with Torbay Council including restructures and redefinition of job descriptions, as well as keeping them up to date with work developments in general. Frequency of such updates should be mutually agreed.

A record of any updating/occasional working should be kept on file within the department.

The line manager must write to the employee prior to their return to work to remind them of the need to disclose any information concerning changes to their personal circumstances that could impact on their role, for example, changes to the employee’s work pattern which may require them to make a Flexible Working Application. To view the policy, please go to MyView, My Documents - Flexible Working Requests Guidance. The Flexible Working Application can be completed on MyView, under My Forms.

If the employees’ post is subject to a DBS Check and there are uncertainties as to whether to report a change in circumstances, please contact Human Resources for further information. Any changes in health may require a referral to the Occupational Health Service, please contact Human Resources for further advice –

On return, the line manager must make appropriate arrangements for the re-introduction to the workplace, including a modified ‘induction’ and assessment of training/development needs (particularly in relation to changes that may have affected their role, for example, new legislation or procedures). Re-entry may also be phased on a part-time basis depending on the circumstances of the case.

Terms of the Agreement

The terms of each Career Break will be included in the MyView Career Break Request form.

The agreement will specify:

  • Start and end date of the career break
  • Post and grade at the start of the scheme
  • Annual leave entitlement, grade and sickness entitlement on return (and at April if applicable)
  • Employee’s obligations
  • Employer’s obligations
  • Procedures for maintaining contact and remaining ‘up to date’
  • Procedure for re-entry
  • Notice period for early return (minimum 2 months’ notice)

During the Career Break, the employee may remain up to date with work developments by:

  • Attending particular meetings, seminars, presentations of new techniques, or training courses (payment for attending should be agreed in advance);
  • Reading and perhaps commenting on papers/reports associated with their work;
  • Receiving relevant newsletters and information/ memoranda circulated to all departmental staff.

However, such arrangements may not be possible if the employee is travelling abroad and updating will be required on return to work. The line manager should agree with the employee, prior to the Career Break, such arrangements to remain ‘up to date’ with workplace developments.

The Agreement also contains a statement reserving Torbay Council’s rights to terminate the arrangement and, if appropriate, invoke disciplinary proceedings if the scheme member:

  • Obtains another job
  • Has given false information regarding the reason for the break
  • Does not comply with the terms of the agreement
  • Fails to be in a position to attend work at the end of the Career Break (other than where circumstances were beyond their control)
  • OR for some other reason which would render the scheme member unsuitable for reemployment, including those covered in the disciplinary procedures result in a termination of the employment contract. Human Resources must be consulted.

An individual Career Break will be regarded as terminated if the scheme member does not meet his/her commitments and the employee will be required to return to work at a time to be confirmed by their line manager, or the employment contract may need to be terminated.

Should an employee become ill and be unable to return to work at the agreed date then they will be regarded as back to work (the Career Break having ceased) but absent (on sick leave). The Managing Attendance Policy applies. Sickness whilst on the agreed Career Break does not need to be recorded as sickness.

On return to work, should an employee require maternity, adoption or maternity support (or any other kind of leave to which they would be entitled as an employee) then this will be granted in the usual way provided they have followed the necessary notification procedures).

NB: Employee who have been on a career break may not be entitled to statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay which is based upon previous earnings. If in doubt contact Human Resources -

Returning and ending the agreement early

At least two months prior to the end of the agreed career break term the employee must contact their line manager confirming their wish to return. The line manager must advise Human Resources by emailing 

The employee must complete the Career Break form on MyView upon their return to confirm the date that their career break has ended. Managers can also do this on behalf of the employee however it is advised that the employee completes this so that they can re-familiarise themselves with the terms of the career break.

Two months’ notice in writing is required from the employee if they wish to end the career break earlier than the agreed date. The same will apply if the manager also wishes to end  the agreement.  A copy of the notice request should be provided to Human Resources - A longer notice period may be required for posts where their position is being covered – the notice period will be in line with the terms and conditions of those ‘back-filling’ the post.

Employment Rights

The contractual position

During the career break, terms and conditions apart from pay continue to apply.

However, on return to work, the period of continuous service before the break will be aggregated with continuous service after the break for the purpose of calculating contractual entitlements which include annual leave and sick pay. Any periods of work carried out during the career break will be counted.

If the career break is for less than one year such entitlements will be counted from the point of return in line with normal procedures and may be calculated on a pro-rata basis.

Incremental rises may be affected particularly if the employee has not worked a full year. Line managers must contact Human Resources Payroll if an increment would not be due during the April.

Notice periods and statutory provisions

Notice periods, statutory entitlements (unfair dismissal, redundancy) and entitlements to maternity, paternity and adoption schemes remain unchanged and the original date of continuous service will apply.

Work equipment

Retention of equipment provided for work use (such as a mobile phone) and continuation of any essential users’ car allowance is at the discretion of the line manager and would be based upon the duration of the Career Break, work/development arrangements and the nature of the Career Break.

Maternity provisions

The National Joint Council’s National Agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service for Local Government Services, will apply where the Career Break was for maternity reasons. This means that where an employee returns to local government service following a break for maternity reasons, she will be entitled to have previous service taken into account in respect of the sickness and maternity schemes, provided the break in service does not exceed eight years and that no permanent paid full-time employment has intervened. For the purpose of the calculation of entitlement to annual leave, the eight years’ time limit does not apply, provided that no permanent full-time employment has intervened.

National Insurance Contributions

The employee will only make contributions during paid periods of employment. If they wish to maintain payments during the break or step-up payments on return to work, they should be advised to make separate arrangements with the Benefits Agency.

Pension Schemes

Local Government Pension Scheme

Under the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations, a Career Break is treated as unpaid leave.

The service and pensionable pay lost during a Career Break will not count towards the calculation of pension benefits unless the member elects to pay Additional Pension Contributions (APC’s) to buy the ‘lost’ pension resulting from the unpaid period.

Employee’s returning to work after a Career Break have the option of buying back the lost pension and this can be purchased by spreading payment of APC’s over a number of complete years (unless you are within 1 year of your Normal Retirement Age) or a one-off payment can be made.

If LGPS members elect to cover the break within 30 days of returning to work, the employer will meet two thirds of the cost of the Additional Pension Contributions. If the election is made after the 30-day period, the employee will bear the full cost.

LGPS members who are interested in paying APC’s on their return to work after a career break will need to email with confirmation of their employee number and dates of career break and the member will then be contacted with the calculations and application form.

Teachers’ Pension Scheme

Members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme do not have the option to pay pension contributions to cover unpaid leave resulting from a Career Break. This unpaid period will constitute as ‘days excluded’ in the calculation of their pension benefits.

However, there are a range of Flexibilities in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme which allow members to increase their pension and these options can be found on the TPS website.

NHS Pension Scheme

The NHS Pension Scheme Regulations allow members to pay contributions during the first six months of an authorised leave of absence and in which case, employee and employer contributions are payable based on the member’s pensionable pay immediately prior to the career break starting.

However, should the member wish to continue contributing to the Scheme after the six month period, they can do so for a further period of 18 months but the member will be responsible for both the employee and employer pension contributions for any period exceeding six months.

It is not compulsory for a member to pay pension contributions during a Career Break and if not, this period will not count towards their calculation of their pension benefits.

NHS Pension Scheme members going on a Career Break are encouraged to contact for further information.

Payments during a career break

In all of the following circumstances employees should be paid at the current rate of the spinal column point they are on when they start the Career Break:

  • For any agreed work carried out during the break.
  • For any meetings attended at the request of the line manager.
  • For seminars, training courses, skills updates where the line manager considers attendance to be appropriate, and of benefit to both the employer and employee.
  • For time spent (as requested and agreed by the line manager) on commenting on reports and papers associated with their work.
  • For other work carried out at the request of the line manager where this is clearly linked with the work previously undertaken.

In the following circumstances employees should be paid in accordance with the assessed grade for the work undertaken and the line manager, in consultation with Human Resources, will need to decide the appropriate point within the grade depending on the skills and experience of the participants in relation to the work undertaken and any other special circumstances to be taken into account:

  • Periods of temporary work to cover holidays, maternity or sick leave where the work is not of the same level to that previously undertaken.
  • Undertaking work that is not closely associated with the work previously undertaken and is at a lower or higher level.
  • Travelling and/or subsistence allowances should be payable in accordance with standard terms and conditions.

Any further information or advice regarding the Career Break Scheme may be obtained from Human Resources. Please contact

Equality Statement

These guidelines apply equally to all Council employees regardless of their age, disability, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Care will be taken to ensure that no traditionally excluded groups are adversely impacted in implementing this policy. Monitoring will take place to ensure compliance and fairness.

Policy Feedback

Should you have any comments regarding this policy, please address them to the HR Policy Feedback mailbox –

History of policy changes
Date Page Details of Change Agreed by:
1 February 2022 Various

Update to reflect new MyView form and process. New section added – Returning and ending the career break early – changed from 1 month to 2 months’ notice required. Assistant Directors changed to Divisional Directors.

For information only – operational changes
17 February 2022


Pension Scheme details updated to reflect Regulation Changes.

Policy to be reviewed as and when required due to operational or legislative changes.