Human Resources


Employees wishing to be considered for a career break must, in the first instance, discuss their application with their line manager. A formal application must then be made in writing and contain details of the reasons for the career break, the length of break being requested (between three months and one year) and any other supporting information.

The employee should discuss their request at the earliest possible opportunity.  In any event, no such requests will be accepted less than three months before the start of the proposed period of absence.

The decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of the application lies with the School Manager or Director of Professional Service Department, but liaison with Human Resources must take place before a decision is reached. The line manager will therefore liaise with the appropriate senior manager and with Human Resources. A meeting may be arranged to discuss the application with the employee.

When considering such an application the following factors will be taken into account:

  • the employee’s length of service;
  • the needs of the students/staff that the individual supports
  • the business needs of the department and the College at the time when the absence is requested;
  • whether the applicant has taken a career break on previous occasions;
  • the purpose of, or reasons for the career break;
  • the length of time of the absence period requested;
  • the realistic potential for offering a continuation of the employment contract for the period of the break;
  • whether Birkbeck need more notice of the request to take a career break;
  • the availability of the essential support for the duration of the break.

It is stressed that not all applications for a career break will be approved. Employees must therefore not commit themselves to any travel plans prior to their application being considered.  Employees must also be reminded that any unauthorised absence will be subject to investigation and may lead to further action under Birkbeck’s Disciplinary Procedure.

It is recommended that any employee, who is taking a career break of six months or more, has a Performance and Development Review appraisal prior to their absence (providing they have not had one in the preceding six months). This should be revisited on their return. Please refer to the Performance and Development Review Scheme for further details.

A member of the Human Resources team will inform the employee of the decision, in writing, at the earliest opportunity. Where a career break is approved, a letter of confirmation will also detail the conditions of the career break to be applied.

The employee may appeal against the decision by utilising Birkbeck’s Grievance Procedure.

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The HR team is based on the first floor of Egmont House
Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX