Breaks in employment that don’t break continuous employment

Lucy Bickerstaff

November 08 2019

Do you have an employee who never misses a day? Perhaps they’re even a constant contender for employee of the month?

Then one day, they call in sick. Does this affect their perfect record, or is it simply regarded as an absence? Let’s find out…

What is continuity of employment?

Continuity of employment is counted from the day an employee starts work under their contract of employment. It also usually means working for the same employer without a break.

What is not a break in service?

There are a number of absences from employment which would not be considered a break in service.

Some of these include:

  • Sickness (under 26 weeks)
  • Maternity/paternity/adoption/parental leave
  • Temporary lay-off
  • Holiday breaks

There are other exceptions which would also not necessarily affect a break in service. For instance, if an employee was to go out on strike, it wouldn’t count as a break in service. However, you may choose to deduct the number of days spent striking from the employee’s length of service.

Another example would be an employee’s unfair dismissal and reinstatement into their position. This would have no effect on an employee’s length of service.

Working overseas counts towards continuous employment and shouldn’t be counted as a break in service. The same goes for those involved in military service─ this is not a break in employment.

What are the exceptions?

When it comes to changing employer, a break in service comes into effect. However, this rule does not apply when a business is transferred to another employer (TUPE).

On the other hand, there are some instances where breaks in service would mean that continuous service is discontinued. For example, if an employee leaves the organisation for more than one complete week (seven working days ending on a Saturday), this would be counted as a break in service.

The same rule would apply to any employee who resigns or is dismissed and does not return within the seven working days. This can be at your discretion, but normally a break of service between one and four weeks would end the continuity of employment.

Also, in the case of redundancy where an employee does not return within four weeks, this could be also be considered as a break in service.

If you would like further complementary advice on continuity of service from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 0800 917 0771 or request a callback here.

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