Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Archive brought to you by Cross Stitch UK

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Time off for public duties

If you are an employee you have the right to time off work for certain public duties and services. Your rights will vary depending on what work you do and what the duty or service is.

Do you qualify?

You are allowed time off work for public duties if you are an 'employee' and one of the following:

  • a magistrate, sometimes known as a justice of the peace
  • a local councillor
  • a school governor
  • a member of a policy authority
  • a member of any statutory tribunal (eg an Employment Tribunal)
  • a member of the managing or governing body of an educational establishment
  • a member of a school council or board in Scotland
  • a member of the General Teaching Councils for England and Wales
  • a member of the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection agency
  • in England and Wales, a member of the prison independent monitoring boards or in Scotland, a member of the prison visiting committees
  • a member of Scottish Water or a Water Customer Consultation Panel

You do not have a right for time off work for public duties if you are any of the following:

  • an agency worker
  • a member of the police service or armed forces
  • employed on a gas or oil rig at sea
  • a merchant seaman
  • employed on a fishing vessel
  • a civil servant whose public duties are connected to political activities restricted under the terms of your employment

Reasonable time off

If you qualify, you are allowed reasonable time off to go to meetings or to carry out your duties. The time must be agreed with your employer beforehand and your employer can refuse your request if it is unreasonable. A specific amount of time off is not laid down in law.

Whether your time off is classed as 'reasonable' will depend on:

  • what your duties are
  • the time you need to carry them out
  • the impact on your employer's business
  • how much time off you have already had for public duties or trade union duties

Payment for time off

Your employer doesn't have to pay you while you take time off for public duties, although many do. Your employment contract will normally say whether you are paid for this time off.

Other types of duties

Many employers are keen to show a commitment to social responsibility and allow time off for employees who are in organisations like the special constabulary or Territorial Army. However, your employer doesn't have to grant this time. Territorial Army members have special employment protection if called up.

Trade union duties

If you are a member of a trade union you are entitled to a reasonable time off for trade union duties and activities.

Jury service

Your employer must allow you time off for jury service.

What to do next

If you have public duties you should let your employer know how long you'll need off and what arrangements need to be made for cover in your absence.

If your employer stops you taking time off for public duties you should first of all follow the grievance procedure outlined in your contract.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Access keys