Staff Leave Policy

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Comment This policy was adopted by the Board on 13 December 2023 and reviewed and updated by the Head of Finance & Operations in November 2023. It is part of a series of Staff Policies.


This policy is designed to cover annual leave, TOIL and other forms of leave, except sick leave and parental leave which are covered by separate policies. The purpose of the policy is to:

  • Set out a framework for how leave is managed within WMUK
  • To ensure all staff understand their responsibilities and entitlements in terms of leave
  • To ensure that everyone is following defined procedures

Annual leave

The holiday year runs from 1st January to 31st December and all employees are entitled to 25 days annual leave plus public/bank holidays. Both annual leave and bank holiday leave are allocated on a pro-rata for part-time staff, and new staff joining during the calendar year will be given a pro-rata allocation for annual leave for the remainder of that year.

Holidays are to be requested and approved by your line manager prior to any holiday arrangements being made, with as much notice as possible but a minimum notice period of the length of the holiday (i.e. at least a week’s notice should be given for a one-week holiday). Annual leave will generally be authorised on a first come first served basis, whilst ensuring that operational efficiency and appropriate staffing levels are maintained throughout the year.  The following steps are to be taken when requesting annual leave:

  • An email is to be sent to your Line Manager with the dates requested
  • If annual leave is approved then your Line Manager will add these days into the Staff Leave Tracker spreadsheet
  • You will add approved leave dates to your Google Calendar as an Out of Office event
  • You will set up an Out of Office message on email for when you are on leave

Staff are expected to take holiday entitlement within the year to which it relates. Annual holiday entitlement is designed to enable staff to perform at their peak level and to safeguard employee health and wellbeing. The charity will allow the equivalent of one week’s leave to be carried forward into the next leave year. This will generally mean five days for full-time staff but less for those working part-time. Pay in lieu of holiday days not taken will not be paid, other than in the event of termination of your employment and with the agreement of the Chief Executive.  Any annual leave days carried forward to the next leave year will need to be taken by Easter that year, otherwise they will be lost.

The office will be closed during the Christmas and New Year period - these days will be taken out of your annual leave, unless, at the discretion of your manager, you have arranged with them to work on a specific piece of work. The Senior Management Team will advise employees which days the office will be closed over the Christmas period at the beginning of the leave year.  

Duvet Days

Wikimedia UK recognises that a flexible approach to leave can create a happier and more productive staff team. All staff can therefore take up to 20% of their annual leave entitlement as ‘duvet days’, which means that advance notice for leave does not have to be given. This will usually mean that full-time staff can take up to five days a year as duvet days, however, this will differ for part-time staff or those who have joined during the calendar year.

Any member of staff taking a duvet day is expected to notify the office and their line manager by 10 am on the day of leave. Taking consecutive duvet days is not encouraged.

Duvet days will be deducted from each member of staff’s usual annual leave entitlement and will be recorded on the Staff Leave Tracker.

Time off in lieu (TOIL)

TOIL is defined as: "time off which you are allowed to take, instead of overtime pay, for hours worked beyond an employee's contracted hours". Wikimedia UK recognises that TOIL allows staff to respond flexibly to the needs of the organisation and will encourage staff to take leave for additional evening and weekend work. In order for TOIL to be managed appropriately, the organisation will adhere to the following principles:

  • Staff should generally carry out their duties within their contracted hours
  • TOIL is not a tool to be used to accrue time to enable extra days' leave to be taken
  • Employees should plan work in advance and any TOIL that is to be accrued must ideally be agreed in advance with an employee’s line manager
  • TOIL should not result in changes to normal contracted hours or arrangements, such as a particular afternoon becoming a ‘TOIL afternoon’

The following procedures should be followed regarding TOIL:

  • Staff should agree in advance with their line manager any time to be worked outside of contracted hours and this should be for specific, rather than ad hoc, pieces of work
  • Staff should not build up excessive amounts of TOIL, and will not generally accrue more than two working days of TOIL in any particular month, except in exceptional circumstances and with the prior consent of their line manager
  • Staff may accrue TOIL if working longer than contracted hours when travelling to or from an event outside of the office. In these circumstances the employee’s normal travelling time to and from work must be subtracted from the total travelling time
  • Staff must obtain their line manager’s approval before taking any TOIL, by emailing their line manager for authorisation
  • TOIL of a half or full day will be recorded on the Staff Leave Tracker. Smaller amounts of TOIL can be taken on a less formal basis but with the agreement of both the employee and their line manager
  • TOIL must be taken by the end of each calendar year, otherwise it will be lost
  • Employees will not be paid in lieu of accrued TOIL which has not been taken by the final date of employment. Any such accrued TOIL will be lost

Unpaid Leave

Staff are generally expected to manage their holidays and other outside work commitments by drawing on their annual leave entitlement. However, if there is a situation where this isn’t possible, then they may be able to take unpaid leave. Unpaid leave will be granted at the discretion of the Chief Executive in consultation with the employee’s line manager.

Medical and dental appointments

Medical or dental appointments should, where possible, be made outside of your normal working hours or at the beginning or end of the working day to minimise disruption. Where this isn’t possible and therefore time off is required, staff are not generally expected to take annual leave to cover this however they must notify their line manager in advance.

In the case of an elective medical procedure, it is generally expected that the member of staff will take annual leave and/or unpaid leave; to be discussed and agreed in consultation with their line manager and/or the Chief Executive.

Compassionate Leave

Wikimedia UK recognises that there are times in everyone’s life when they are unable to come to work. This will generally be in the case of a close bereavement but sometimes may be for other reasons such as a health issue in a close family member, or a personal crisis such as a relationship breakdown. In such cases, Wikimedia UK will strive to be as supportive as possible whilst managing the operational needs of the charity.

Staff who think they may be entitled to compassionate leave are encouraged to discuss their situation with either their line manager or the Chief Executive as soon as possible. All compassionate leave will be granted at the discretion of the Chief Executive in consultation with the employee’s line manager.