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Buy, Bank and Unpaid Leave FAQ

Here you’ll find answers to some of the common questions asked about buy and bank leave.

Visit the Buy & Bank article for more information on this subject.

Information for both Managers and Employees

How will I know if I qualify for the scheme?

You should refer to the Buy, Bank and Unpaid Leave Scheme Guidance to ensure you meet the qualifying criteria for the Scheme, i.e. you have a minimum of one year’s complete service with NLC, etc.

If you are still unsure and have further queries, you should contact the Employee Service Centre People Help Desk Team on (01698) 403151, or e-mail on esc-helpdeskteam@northlan.gov.uk, for further advice and guidance.

Please ensure you do so prior to applying to avoid disappointment if your application is rejected.

Please Note: If you do not meet the required criteria for the Scheme, you can still apply for individual Unpaid Leave days throughout the year outwith the Scheme, via the “Other Absence” option on your mySelf Account – drop-down option “Other Absence – Special Leave (Unpaid)”. This request will be sent to your Line Manager for authorisation and full deductions for day(s) taken will be deducted from your next available pay, rather than split deductions being taken throughout the year.

Please see below link for further information: –

Unpaid Leave Information

When can I make an application to the Scheme?

The application period normally commences on 1st November and all applications must be submitted by employees via their mySelf Account and authorised/rejected by Line Managers via their myTeam Account by the notified deadline date, as advised via e-mail communication to all employees.

Can I apply to bank leave if I'm a term time employee?


Term Time employees can only buy leave.

If I start mid-year, can I apply for the Scheme?

No. To qualify, you must have been employed by NLC for one complete annual leave year (the annual leave year being from 1st January until 31st December).

Reckonable Service does not count towards this eligibility if you have transferred from another local authority. Only NLC service will count towards eligibility for this Scheme.

Managers must ensure this criteria is checked when considering applications.

Do I need to identify, at the time of my application, the future dates I intend to use if I Buy, Bank or apply for Unpaid Leave through the Scheme?

No. The only date required during the initial application process is the date you apply, i.e. the date you initially start to complete your application via mySelf. This should be the current date and not a backdated or future date, as this can affect the application process.

The date you submit your application to your Line Manager for approval, as well as the date your Line Manager approves or rejects your application, will be available to view.

Can I apply for leave under this Scheme if I'm a Teacher?

No. Teachers are not entitled to apply to Buy or Bank or apply for Unpaid leave under this Scheme.

Can I apply to Bank leave if I'm a Term Time employee?

No. Term Time employees are not entitled to Bank leave, however, can still apply to Buy or apply for Unpaid Leave through the Scheme.

Managers must ensure this criteria is checked when considering applications.

Will my application be accepted if it does not meet the notified deadline?

No. There is only one application period per year and if your application has not been submitted, or authorised by your Line Manager, prior to the notified deadline, this will automatically be rejected.

There will be no exceptions to this rule, due to Payroll time constraints. If Managers are not going to be available to authorise applications, it is their responsibility to ensure appropriate re-directions are made via their myTeam Account to ensure applications are not missed.

Important : It is the employees’ responsibility to link in with their Line Manager to ensure their applications are considered.

Do I need to Bank my hours before I can Buy them?

No. Buying and Banking leave are two separate applications. There is no such Scheme as the Buy Back Scheme.

How many hours can I Buy if I work part-time e.g. 17.5 hours or 20 hours?

The total number of hours that you can Buy cannot exceed your maximum weekly contracted hours. For example, if you are contracted to work 20 hours per week, you can Buy up to a maximum of 20 hours. Likewise, if you are contracted to work 17.5 hours per week, you can Buy up to a maximum of 17.5 hours.

IMPORTANT: The maximum hours you can Buy are not based on the number of average hours you work per week if working Smarter Working, i.e. condensed hours, or if you work to a set rota.

The same rule applies if you Bank leave or apply for Unpaid leave, where the maximum amount you are applying for cannot exceed your total weekly contractual hours.

I am employed within multiple posts with NLC. How many hours can I apply for?

Each post/position you are employed within must be dealt with separately. You cannot amalgamate all hours for multiple posts into one singular application.

If you intend to apply for hours in each post/position, you must make a separate application for each.

As detailed above, you can apply for the maximum number of weekly contractual hours per individual post/position.

IMPORTANT – if you are employed within multiple posts that have the same Designation/Job Title, however, you work different contracted hours within each post, when applying via mySelf, you must ensure you select the correct post/position from the dropdown options available for the post you are applying against, i.e. the correct Position Number.

Failure to select the correct post/position when applying could result in your application being rejected.

If you are unsure on what post/position to select, please discuss with your Line Manager in the first instance, who should be able to confirm correct Position Numbers. If further guidance is still required, please contact the Employee Service Centre People Help Desk Team, as detailed above.

Can I Buy/Bank or apply for Unpaid leave every year via the Scheme?

Yes. Providing you meet the required qualifying criteria as detailed in the Buy, Bank and Unpaid Leave Scheme Guidance (please see above link for further information and guidance).

What format should the total hours be input as when completing an application on mySelf?

Total hours should be input as a decimal figure, i.e. for half hours, this should be .5 and not .30 (as in minutes), so 17 and a half hours would be 17.5.

My Manager is experiencing issues when trying to approve my application?

Line Managers are only able to approve applications whilst Payruns are open.

Payrun deadlines, including opening and closing dates, are available here:-

Payrun Deadlines

How will I know if my application has been approved by my Line Manager?

Employees will receive an e-mail notification to confirm whether their application has been approved or rejected by their Line Manager. You can also check the status of your application via your mySelf Account. i.e. Submitted, Awaiting Authorisation or Authorised.

If a Line Manager decides to reject an application, they must provide a reason and discuss with the employee.

Please Note: When an application has been approved by the Line Manager, further final criteria checks are still required to be carried out within the ESC before final approval is granted, prior to any balances being added to i-Trent, or deductions set-up on payroll.

Will I have the right of appeal if my application is rejected?

Rejected applications should be discussed with your Line Manager in the first instance. If you remain unsatisfied with the decision, you will have the right to raise this issue through North Lanarkshire Council’s Grievance Policy.

When will my first payments for Bought/Unpaid leave be deducted from my pay and over how long a period?

Final application checks are carried out by the ESC during January, with your first deduction(s) normally being taken from your first available pay in February.

Important – If at any time during the year you notice from your Payslip that your deduction(s) has stopped, or the amount has significantly changed, you must ensure you contact the People Help Desk Team (details provided above) a.s.a.p. in order for this to be checked.

How do I calculate how much my Bought/Unpaid leave will cost me?

The total cost of your leave is calculated as follows:-

• Your hourly rate of pay (please refer to your Payslip) x total number of hours applying for, e.g. £6.9989 (hourly rate) x 35 hours (total hours applied for) = £244.96 Gross

To determine your approximate deduction amount for each pay period, divide the total Gross amount over the number of pays you have remaining (from February as per above) up until December, according to your Payrun (please see above link to Payrun dedlines for further information).

Please Note : This amount might vary slightly over the year if you transfer posts, as the aim of the Scheme is to have any outstanding amount cleared by December, so this might need to be adjusted slightly depending on Payroll deadlines.

I am part of the Smarter Working Scheme and do not work the same number of hours per day. How do I calculate what bought leave will cost me?

The cost will be based on the average number of hours per day in your working pattern, e.g. if you work 35 hours per week over 4 days at a different number of hours per day, bought leave will be calculated as 8.75 hours per day, i.e. 35 hours divided by 4 days.

What if I go into a half pay situation, or go on maternity leave?

The Buy, Bank & Unpaid Leave scheme is classed as a Salary Sacrifice Scheme. Contributions will continue to be deducted as normal from your pay, as long as there are sufficient funds available and this would not cause your Gross salary to fall below the National Minimum Wage, or minimum contributions of £1 National Insurance being made.

If there are insufficient funds to make your deduction(s), payments will be suspended, with any outstanding deductions being made at the end of the normal period, e.g. if three payments are suspended, then the repayment period will be extended by three months, to ensure all outstanding amounts due are repaid.

Please Note : If your repayments go beyond the December of that year and continue into the following year, this will affect your eligibility to apply for the Scheme the following year.

If you experience financial hardship at any time, please consult your Line Manager in respect of continuation of the Scheme.

How will this affect my pension contributions?

Pension contributions will continue to be calculated on the full-time equivalent salary.

How will this affect my Tax and NI contributions?

As deductions for Bought/Unpaid leave are taken from your Gross salary before Tax and NI contributions are made, this may result in you paying slightly less Tax and NI than usual. There will certainly be no increase in contributions.

I am currently receiving Child Care Vouchers, but I wish to Buy additional leave. How will this affect the minimum wage criteria?

The amount of your Gross salary remaining after deductions of payments, either for Child Care Vouchers and/or Bought/Unpaid leave, must not leave you with a salary which falls below the equivalent of the National Minimum Wage or minimum contributions of £1 National Insurance being made.

What if I change my mind after applying to Buy leave?

Once you have opted into the Scheme, you cannot opt out under normal circumstances. In exceptional circumstances, however, i.e. hardship/financial difficulties, employees should contact their Line Manager to discuss their continued membership of the scheme.

Why do I have to use my Bought/Unpaid leave first?

If an employee has a change in circumstances during the leave year, i.e. moves to a different Service, resigns from NLC, changes their working hours, etc., then, from an administrative viewpoint, it is easier to calculate charges/reimbursement if the Bought leave is deemed to be used first.

What happens if I move to another post/position within the Service/Council?

A discussion should take place between the employee and the new Line Manager in relation to continuation in the Scheme. If the new Service is unable to accommodate your existing arrangements, please see below comments regarding resigning from the Council, which will apply.

What if I resign from the Council?

If there is an outstanding balance owed to the Council, you will be liable to repay this and this amount will be recovered from your final pay.

Alternatively, if you are owed monies as a result of resignation, this will be reimbursed to you.

The amount calculated will take account of any unused annual leave in that leave year.

What if my hours of work alter, e.g. I move to a Job Share post?

Example 1

You buy 35 hours and move to work Job Share 17.5 hours – you will continue to pay the agreed contributions calculated at the beginning of the leave year.

If you have taken the 35 hours leave whilst working full-time, there are no implications, however, if you have not used any leave, then you will be entitled to the same number of hours that you purchased at the beginning of the leave year, i.e. 35 hours or 5 full days.

Example 2

You work Job Share 17.5 hours per week and Buy 17.5 hours at the beginning of the year and move to work full-time 35 hours per week.

You will continue to pay the agreed contribution calculated at the beginning of the leave year. If you have taken the 17.5 hours leave whilst working Job Share, there are no implications, however, if you have not used any leave, then you will only be entitled to the same number of hours that you Bought at the beginning of the leave year, i.e. 17.5 hours.

Any proportion of unused leave in these circumstances will be calculated as a number of hours.

What happens if I am promoted?

If you are promoted and your hourly rate increases, you will continue to pay the contributions at the rate as agreed at the start of the leave year.

Will my right to carry over outstanding annual leave until 31st January in the next leave year be affected by the scheme?

No. The present arrangements for annual leave state that an employee may, with the approval of their Line Manager, carry annual leave forward to the end of January in the following leave year. The Scheme does not alter this arrangement.

Important – There is no requirement to Bank leave if you intend to use this prior to the 31st January in the following leave year.

What if numerous staff within my team apply for the same period?

All applications are required to be approved by a Line Manager. It is the individual’s responsibility to discuss any issues with the appropriate Line Manager.

Employees should be aware that any approval of applications does not entitle them to take specific dates of leave and that any leave they subsequently apply for are subject to the normal authorisation processes.

I have banked annual leave, but it does not appear to have been added to my annual leave?

IMPORTANT : Annual leave balances are not normally updated on i-Trent until the end of February.

If your balance has still not been updated after February, contact the People Helpdesk on 01698 403151 or alternatively email them at ESC-HelpDeskTeam@northlan.gov.uk.

I have submitted an application and it has been approved by my Line Manager. Can I amend this?

No. If an application has already been approved by your Line Manager, this can no longer be amended or deleted. This is why it is important to ensure all information is correct and checked before submitting/approving.

If the approved application is wrong, the employee and/or Line Manager must ensure they e-mail the “ESC Buy and Bank” Inbox with details, confirming the application Reference Number of the incorrect application, where arrangements will be made by the Compliance & Audit Team for this to be disregarded.

Arrangements should then be made by the employee to submit a new application with the correct information to be sent to their Line Manager approval. Any new applications must be re-submitted and approved prior to the notified deadline, otherwise, these will not be accepted, even though the initial incorrect application was approved before the deadline.

Applications that are still sitting as “provisional” on the employees mySelf Account, i.e. have not been submitted for authorisation, can still be amended by the employee, prior to submission.

Line Managers also have the option to reject claims at the authorisation stage if the details are incorrect.

Once approved and the hours have been adjusted on my annual leave entitlement, how do I book Bought, Banked or Unpaid leave hours I have applied for through the Scheme?

As the total balance of any Bought, Banked or Unpaid leave hours are added/adjusted on your overall annual leave entitlement, you should just apply for these as you would normally do when applying for annual leave, i.e. book a “Personal Holiday” via mySelf.

Important – DO NOT select the option for “Other Absence – Special Leave (Unpaid)”, for Unpaid Leave hours you have been approved for, as this option is only to be used for applications for Unpaid Leave outwith the Scheme, where deductions are taken from your next available pay.

Balance FAQs

What will my annual leave entitlement balance look like at the start of the new year?

At the beginning of the new leave year, any leave you had remaining from the previous year will be carried forward and included within your entitlement for the new year. This is normal practice and applies to all employees, regardless of whether or not you have applied for any hours via the Scheme.

For any leave carried forward from the previous year, it is important to note that these hours must be used by 31st January, unless these hours have been Banked via the Scheme. If not Banked, or used by the end of January, these hours will automatically be lost and deducted from your balance, as at 1 February. Again, this is normal practice and applies to all employees.

Please remember that any Bought, Banked or Unpaid leave applied for will not show on your balance until after 31st January.

If I applied to Bank hours, but have then used some of them, how will this show?

If you applied to Bank hours, however, have gone on to use some of these hours, the hours that have been used will be deducted from the original amount you applied to Bank and only the remaining hours will be Banked and reflected in your new entitlement.

What will my balance look like once Bought, Banked and Unpaid leave balances are added to my entitlement and where will these will show?

After 31st January, your holiday balance will be updated to show your new balance, including any Bought, Banked or Unpaid leave hours you applied for, providing your application was approved by your Line Manager prior to the deadline date.

How do I apply to use my Bought, Banked or Unpaid leave hours?

As any approved hours applied for have been added to your overall annual leave entitlement balance for the new leave year, you should apply as you would normally via your mySelf Account, selecting “Personal Holiday”.

For operational purpose, any Bought or Unpaid leave hours will be the first leave you use in the new leave year.

Please Note – DO NOT apply for any Unpaid Leave hours via the option available for “Special Leave – Unpaid Leave”, as this would process a further deduction from your pay.

The “Special Leave – Unpaid Leave” option should only to be used for employees applying for Unpaid Leave for individual days outwith the Scheme, where deductions are taken from the next available pay and not equally split deductions throughout the year (as is within the Scheme).

Updated on 24th May 2024

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