Human Resources

Annual Leave Purchase Scheme (ALPS)

 

The University is committed to protecting the health and well-being of its employees, to this end the University has launched an Annual Leave Purchase Scheme (ALPS) to assist employees in balancing their home and work life.  The Annual Leave Purchase Scheme (ALPS) is part of the benefits package offered by the University, and gives employees the option to buy additional annual leave on top of their usual holiday entitlement, subject to managerial approval.

There may be instances for example where a member of staff:

  • Is planning a special event or trip
  • Needs extra leave for personal reasons
  • Simply would like more annual leave

The purpose of the annual leave purchase scheme is to provide employees with additional flexibility in respect of planned time off work.

This cost of purchasing the additional leave will be spread over the leave year to which the additional leave relates, which will ensure that employees continue to receive a monthly salary, at a reduced rate to reflect the additional leave. This scheme provides the opportunity to “buy” up to 2 working weeks (pro-rata if appropriate) additional annual leave in each leave year.

If you would like to apply for the ALPS then please read the policy and guidance notes below, and then complete the application form (also below).  Please note the application form must be signed and emailed to reward@sussex.ac.uk by your manager.  Applications without manager authorisation will be rejected.
ALPS Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1: What is the scheme?

The Additional Leave Purchase Scheme (ALPS) is part of the benefits package offered by the University of Sussex, and gives you the option to buy additional annual leave on top of your usual holiday entitlement, subject to your Manager’s approval. 

Q2: Who can join?

ALPS is open to all University staff meeting the earning criteria set out in the policy, except:

  • engaged on fixed term/temporary contracts which are due to end before the end of the leave year to which the additional leave applies;
  • Those engaged on ‘zero or variable hours’ contracts.
  • Those engaged via agencies
  • Those employed by University subsidiary companies.
  • Those who do not meet the minimum earnings requirements.
Q3: How do I apply?

You will need to complete an application form, found on the HR website on the Reward and Benefits page. 

Q4: Will I need to book the additionally purchased annual leave in the same way that I book my contractual leave?

Yes, all leave requests will need to be booked in the normal way, managers should consider all leave requests (including using the additionally purchased annual leave) in light of the normal considerations they give to authorising time away from work.

Q5: When can I apply to purchase additional annual leave?

Requests to purchase additional annual leave can usually be submitted at two points in the year:

  • The first window for applications will be open from 01 July to 31 August
  • The second window for applications will open from 01 January to 28 February
Q6: How many additional days can I purchase? 

You can purchase up to a maximum of ten additional days of leave per annual leave year (pro rata for part-time staff based on FTE) if you apply in the first window, and up to a maximum of five additional days of leave per annual leave year for applications made in the second window (also pro-rata for part-time staff based on FTE). 

Q7: Can my application for additional annual leave be declined?

Managers can decline your application to purchase additional annual leave for operational reasons related to your job and/or service needs. If your application is declined, your Manager should explain the reasons for this. 

Q8: Can I appeal a decision to decline my application?  

There is no right of appeal against a decision to decline an application.

Q9: How do I pay for the additional annual leave purchased? 

The purchase of additional annual leave is via a salary sacrifice arrangement. Salary sacrifice is an agreement between you and the University to vary your terms and conditions of employment, which will reduce your entitlement to pay in return for a non-cash benefit. The non-cash benefit in this case is additional annual leave. The total cost of annual leave purchased will be divided by the number of months remaining in the leave year, and deducted from your salary in equal monthly payments as follows:

  • For additional leave purchased in the first window, there will be twelve equal deductions from monthly pay, from October to September inclusive.
  • For additional leave purchased in the second window, there will be six equal deductions from monthly pay, from April to September inclusive.
Q10: How can I calculate the cost of additional annual leave purchased? 

The cost of additional annual leave will be based on your total salary (including any contractual payments/allowances) and on how much tax you pay. As a guide, however, the calculation is based on the following formula:

(i)                 Basic annual salary ÷ 52 = basic weekly pay.

(ii)                Basic weekly pay ÷ hours in week = hourly rate of pay.

(iii)               Hourly rate of pay x number of additional hours requested = total amount to be deducted from salary.

(iv)               Total amount to be deducted from salary ÷ number of months remaining in the leave year (as previously outlined) = gross monthly deduction from salary.

Example: A.

A full-time member of staff on grade 3, spine point 11, purchasing 73 hours (ten days) of additional leave in the first window: Basic annual salary = £19,612. Weekly pay = £19,612 ÷ 52 = £377.15 Hourly rate = £377.15 ÷ 36.5 = £10.33. Total cost of the additional ten days of leave purchased = £10.33 x 73= £754.30.  Gross monthly deduction from salary over a twelve-month period = £62.86

Example: B.

A part-time member of staff on grade 8, spine point 39, working twenty hours per week, purchasing 20 hours of additional annual leave in the second annual window: Basic annual salary = (20 ÷ 37.5) x £44,045 = £23,490.66. Weekly pay = £23,490.66 ÷ 52 = £451.74.  Hourly rate = £451.74÷ 20 = £22.59. Total cost of the additional 20 hours of leave purchased 20 x 22.59 = 451.74.  Gross monthly deduction from salary over a six-month period (April to September inclusive are six remaining months in the year for this window) = £451.74 ÷ 6 = £75.29.

As additional annual leave is not a taxable benefit, there is no income tax or national insurance payable on the value of the days bought. Therefore, the net cost is reduced by up to 33.25% for a basic rate tax payer, and up to 43.25% for a higher rate tax payer.

Q11: What impact will this have on my pension?

This will depend on which pension scheme you are in.  If you are in the NHS pension scheme, your pension benefits and contributions will be affected. Please see https://faq.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/knowledgebase/article/KA-04372/en-us for details.

Employer and employee pension contributions for USS, USPSS and USPAS members will be made as normal on the level of pay as if no deduction had taken place. Employee pension contributions will be deducted from your salary automatically as normal and will be based on your pre-reduced pay.  For further information please email pensions@sussex.ac.uk.

Q12: Will purchasing additional annual leave affect my benefits?

Your benefits could be affected if your pay is below the lower earnings limit for National Insurance Contributions. If you believe that your benefits may be affected, you should ensure that you seek advice from the appropriate benefits agency prior to making an application. 

Q13: Will purchasing additional annual leave affect my entitlement to Child Tax Credits (CTC) or Working Tax Credits (WTC)? 

CTC/WTC payments are based on your income for the previous tax year, which ends on 5 April each year. If you are purchasing additional annual leave and are making a new claim for CTC or WTC, you will need to use your revised pay figure when applying. Help and advice is available from the Tax Credits helpline on 0345 300 3900, or via their website (see www.hmrc.gov.uk). 

Q14: What happens if I reduce my hours or have a pay increase/decrease? 

The holiday calculation is based on your pay at the time that the first deduction is made, deductions will continue to be made at this rate until the end of the leave year to which the additional leave relates. 

Q15: What happens if I go on maternity leave or sick leave?  

If you enter a period of unpaid leave, you will be allowed to suspend salary sacrifice payments until your return to work. If you decide not to return to work, any outstanding payment for additional annual leave purchased (and taken) will be deducted from your final salary payment – alternatively, you can opt to pay off the remaining months in full via your salary before going on maternity leave. You should also be aware that SMP and SSP will be calculated on your reduced gross salary, which may result in a lower value of these benefits. 

Q16: What happens if I have purchased additional annual leave and I leave the University part way through the leave year? 

You will be expected to use any additional annual leave purchased before you leave the University as reimbursement for untaken additional annual leave will not normally be made. All remaining deductions for additional annual leave purchased will be made from your final salary. 

Q17: Can I carry forward untaken additional leave purchased into the following leave year? 

You will not be permitted to carry forward additional leave purchased into the next leave year unless there are exceptional circumstances that prevent the leave being taken in the current leave year. It is assumed, therefore, that additional leave purchased is used before normal contractual annual leave entitlement. Existing carry forward rules will apply to contractual annual leave.

Q18: Can I change my mind once the additional annual leave has been approved? 

Once the agreement has been made and monthly deductions have commenced, it becomes a binding agreement between yourself and the University, and cannot be reversed unless there are exceptional circumstances. The circumstances referred to are significant life changes, which might include marriage, divorce, severe illness of either the member of staff or their partner, having to reduce hours of work or pay, or the potential job loss of either the member of staff or their partner.

Q19: Can I enter the scheme if I am a low earner?

This will depend on your individual circumstances, the University can’t authorise a salary sacrifice arrangement where your pay after deductions would be lower than the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL)/National Minimum Wage.

Q20: What happens if I change roles during the leave year to a differently graded post?

Where an employee changes roles during the leave year, even where the new role is higher or lower graded than their preceding role, the annual leave deductions will not be re-calculated to account for the new rate of pay.