Absences from work and time spent outside the UK

As any unauthorised or unpaid leave must be reported to the Home Office, part of the University's responsibilities under the Skilled Worker sponsor requirements is to maintain a record of absences from work. Skilled Worker visa holders sponsored by the University must discuss all absences with their employing department/ faculty/ college, who will maintain records and report any relevant changes as a result of leave to the Staff Immigration Team (SIT).

Information on changes which must be reported to SIT, including those resulting from periods of leave, is found in guidance on Changes in Skilled Worker role.

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Normal work related travel, such as attending UK conferences, working from home, or work meetings within the UK, does not need to be recorded or reported. If a Skilled Worker visa holder is planning a trip where they will be unreachable by phone or email, however, they must inform their normal HR contact in their department/ faculty/ college before they leave.

Contact details

Contact details for sponsored visa holders must be kept up to date. Sponsored visa holders must be contactable within a reasonable period of time by email or phone. The employing department/ faculty should ensure contact details in CoreHR are checked and maintained, and colleges should ensure their HR systems are updated.



Sponsored visa holders should follow the normal absence reporting procedures for their staff group (i.e. Academic, Academic-related or College contracts) for sickness absence and annual leave. Records of absence must be readily available in personnel files for audit purposes.

If a Skilled Worker visa holder’s salary changes as a result of taking Maternity, Paternity, Shared Parental, Adoption, or Sick leave (i.e. a drop to Statutory Maternity Pay, reduced pay whilst on sick leave, or a period of unpaid leave) this must be reported to the Staff Immigration Team within 5 working days after the date of the change.

An unauthorised absence would occur when a sponsored Skilled Worker visa holder fails to attend when attendance is expected and they have not communicated their absence to their department or college. For example: a failure to deliver a timetabled lecture or tutorial, an unexplained absence from a conference or a committee meeting, an unexplained absence from work when attendance would normally be expected. An unauthorised absence of 10 days or more would have to be reported to the Home Office by the Staff Immigration Team (SIT).

Skilled Worker visa holders are only permitted to take up to 4 weeks authorised unpaid leave in any calendar year (1 January to 31 December) and any unpaid leave must be reported to the Home Office by SIT. Longer periods of unpaid leave and reductions in salary below the Skilled Worker salary thresholds are permitted in cases of maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption, and sick leave, but still need to be reported to the Home Office.

Within the collegiate University 'sabbatical leave' is used to refer to research leave for those in academic roles. During these periods of sabbatical leave academics can focus on their research activities and will not be required to carry out their normal teaching duties. However, as this is a temporary change the change in duties does not need to be reported to the Home Office.

Sabbatical leave in the wider sense, i.e. a period undertaking employment in a different role, or other activities outside an employed role either within or outside the UK, is not permitted under a Skilled Worker visa. The reason for this is that if a Skilled Worker visa holder ceases to undertake the duties of their main role, this must be reported and the Home Office will then cancel their visa. Information on what happens when the Home Office cancel/ curtail a visa is found in guidance on the end of sponsorship.


Discuss any proposed sabbatical leave early

Any proposed period of sabbatical leave should always be discussed with the Staff Immigration Team (SIT) as early as possible to check whether this will be possible within the Skilled Worker visa conditions.



If a Skilled Worker visa holder wishes to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), a complete record of all overseas travel during the five year qualifying period will be required. Skilled Worker visa holders should ensure that all travel outside the UK, both for private and work reasons, is recorded (e.g. in an Outlook diary, calendar, or a form provided by the HR contact in the department/ faculty/ college).

While there is no limit under the Skilled Worker rules on time spent outside the UK, when applying for ILR applicants must meet the limit on absences set out in the 'continuous residence' requirement. This requirement states that Skilled Worker visa holders applying for ILR must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 month period throughout the five year qualifying period.

A requirement for Dependant visa holders to record and list absences in any ILR application was introduced in January 2018, and changes in how absences are counted for visa holders were introduced in January 2018 and October 2019. More information on the ILR 'continuous residence' requirements which limit absences from the UK can be found in our guidance on Staying in the UK permanently.

Contact us

Medical Sciences / Humanities / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education

Angelina Pelova, Email: angelina.pelova@admin.ox.ac.uk 

Paul Deeble, Email: paul.deeble@tss.ox.ac.uk


MPLS / Social Sciences / Colleges

Lyn Davis, Email: lyn.davis@admin.ox.ac.uk

Richard Birt, Email: richard.birt@admin.ox.ac.uk




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