Leave, out of office and sickness (new)

New functionality available on early access request

ChurchSuite's Leave, out of office and sickness feature will be enhanced soon to include new leave approval functionality, enhanced line manager notifications and improvements to 'leave auto-add' unavailability so that absence is recorded for the full leave request date range, not just the working days date range. Overall the leave section has a much cleaner, intuitive and informative user experience. We can't wait for you to see it!

This new functionality is in the final beta testing phase and is now available on early access request to all customers. If you would like to participate in the final review and feedback process simply get in touch to request early access. This support article explains how the functionality works.

We are open to feedback and help identifying any issues that we may not have anticipated. We do however ask that the scope of feedback is limited to just the intended functionality outlined in this article - requests for further new functionality should be communicated separately as "suggestions or requests" and these will be logged for future development consideration.

What is early access?

Early access involves migrating your existing leave and leave setup data to the new data structure, thus making the new functionality available within your Calendar module. No data is lost in the migration process. The new functionality has already been extensively tested and is considered stable and, as best as we can determine, bug free.

After migration, one issue you may encounter (and should anticipate) is if you have existing historic or future leave bookings that look like this...

In this example, the user has added all their leave dates to an existing leave booking, rather than creating a separate leave booking for each block of leave. This method is possible under the current functionality to facilitate users extending a leave booking, but some users may have been used it incorrectly by adding new leave bookings to an existing one. As a result, after migration to the new functionality and data structure, this leave booking appears to run from 13th January to 31st December, but clearly there are several distinct leave blocks that should have been added by the user as separate leave bookings, one for each block. If you have existing leave booking data like this - particularly in respect of future leave bookings - then you may wish to manually change your leave data to create separate leave requests for each block for each user. This can be done before or after migration. Please note that we are unable to make changes to your data to do this programatically.

Introduction

ChurchSuite's Calendar module includes 'easy-to-use' functionality for recording and tracking Leave, Out of office and Sickness. This has a number of distinct advantages: from a human resources perspective it facilitates managing your team's leave entitlement - and from a church management perspective it means that your team know with one glance of the calendar whether a key person is away on a particular day, which is especially helpful when planning events!

In this article

Overview of the intended functionality
Restricting user access to leave setups
Adding a leave setup for a user
Starting a new holiday/leave year
Adding a leave request
Adding rota unavailability
Leave approval
Adding custom leave types
Deleting a leave setup
Keeping on top of the changes
Sickness recording

Overview of the intended functionality

ChurchSuite's 'Leave' functionality is part of the Calendar module only and is not accessible from any other part of the ChurchSuite ecosystem. Leave is helpfully displayed on the module's Calendar to help users with event planning as well as ensuring key staff are not clashing with their leave requests. iCal feeds for user leave are also available (see related article).

For each of your users you can add a Leave Setup that determines how many hours of leave they are entitled to take within the Leave Setup period and the expected working days and hours each day. Your users will be unable to submit leave requests of any type unless there is a Leave Setup covering their leave request dates.

Line managers can be designated to each user's Leave Setup and they are notified when leave is added. If leave approval is enabled on a Leave Setup, line managers and Administrators are able to approve or decline (with a reason) pending leave requests, which will send an approval response back to the user. Approved leave can be later declined and vice versa. When leave is edited, the user and Line Manager(s) (minus the person who took the action) are notified. Similarly, if a user chooses to edit leave that has already been approved/declined, line managers will be notified of the leave request as if it was being added as a new request.

If leave approval is disabled, leave requests are added as if they had been approved by the user who added them and no approval information is shown in the Calendar module.

Access to the Leave Setup section is only available to Calendar module users who have at least Manage permissions for the module, and to Administrators. However, it's possible to further restrict Leave Setup access to one or more User Groups so that Calendar module users with Manage/Admin permissions are unable to access the Leave Setup section if they are not User Group members.

Leave requests for 'Holiday' is the only leave type that is deducted from Leave Setup entitlement. Leave requests for all other leave types are recorded cumulatively without restriction for each Leave Setup period. There are several system leave types that cannot be edited or removed - Holiday, Out of Office, Working from Home, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Time off in Lieu, Compassionate Leave and Sickness. Additionally, through the Calendar Module Options, custom leave types can be added.

A user with Use permissions for the Calendar module will be able to view/add/edit/delete their own leave; a user with Manage or Administrator permissions will be able to view/add/edit/delete leave for any users (subject to their site permissions).

When adding a leave request the user is warned if it overlaps with any existing leave previously entered and validation detects if a 'Holiday' leave request takes a user over their Leave Setup allowance (with the option to override).

When adding a leave request a user can optionally select to add unavailability covering the full leave request period (even if the date range of working days within that period is shorter). If a leave request is subsequently changed the unavailability will change automatically to match. If the leave is subsequently deleted or declined, the unavailability is removed.

The remainder of this article explains how to add leave setups for your users and how to manage the leave requests you receive.

Restricting user access to leave setups

Any user with at least Manage permissions for the Calendar module (and Administrators) can access the Leave Setup section.

However, it's possible to further restrict Leave Setup access to one or more User Groups so that only Manage/Admin users who are user group members can access the Leave Setup section. To configure this, head into the Calendar module's settings via the cog wheels icon in the top-right corner of the module. There are three Options tabs for the Module, My ChurchSuite and Embed.

On the Module Options tab scroll down to the Leave Setup setting and select the User Group(s) that Leave Setup is Visible to. If you are a Line Manager or need Leave Setup access, make sure that your own user account is a member of one of the selected User Group restrictions - otherwise you won't be able to access the Leave Setup section! See our related support article for further information on creating user groups.

Still working within the Module Options are further settings relating to custom Leave Types (explained later in this article) and the default settings for Standard Working Week and Calendar Leave that will be applied to new Leave Setups; however these defaults can be overridden when a new Leave Setup is added. Save any changes made to the Module Options before navigating away from the page.

Adding a leave setup for a user

Working within the Calendar module hover over the Leave Requests menu and select Leave Setup. Within the Leave Setup section click Add leave setup.

On the Add leave setup window, select the User for whom the Leave Setup relates - only active users are listed. Optionally add one or more Line Managers who will receive notifications when leave requests are added, edited or deleted. Optionally tick to enable Approval. If enabled, leave requests added against this Leave Setup are added with a pending status that will require approval from a Line Manager or Admin. The leave approval functionality is explained in more detail in a later section of this article.

Next, enter the Leave Setup Period typically this will be your organisation's 'leave year'. In the future you'll add a new Leave Setup (or duplicate from an existing one) for each new 'leave period/year' - ideally adding them ahead of any leave requests being made for that leave period! The Leave Setup Period cannot overlap with any existing Leave Setup periods - typically they run consecutively.

Next, enter the Leave Hours. Leave entitlement is expressed in hours rather than days since many employees will work variable hours within the week - for example, taking a day of leave on a Tuesday might be a different number of hours to taking a day of leave on a Wednesday. Leave Hours will therefore require a manual calculation. In the example below the user works 3 days of 7 hours each week. His annual leave entitlement is 5 weeks so his Leave Hours are calculated as 3 x 7 x 5 = 105 hours. You may find it helpful to use the Notes field to keep track of the calculations you make. Notice that days worked have been ticked in respect of the 3 days this user is expected to work. The number of hours the user is expected to work on each day have also been added along with an indication of working times the user is likely to work for each working day; however, these times do not have to correlate to the total number of hours. For example, some organisations will allow an hour lunch break and others 30 minutes; so the working times present are an indication, whereas each day's number of hours are expected to be precise. ChurchSuite uses days worked and number of hours to determine which dates within a leave request are to be treated as leave days that are deducted from the user's Leave Setup allowance and which dates are to be ignored.

When you have finished adding all the information click Save to see the Leave Setup's "View" page summarising all the settings you've just selected. You'll repeat this process for other users - remember, without a Leave Setup a user will be unable to add leave requests of any type, including 'Holiday' and 'Sickness'.

The Leave Setup section (shown below) lists the Leave Setups for each of your users. The View filter can be used to switch between viewing the Leave Setups that start in a different future or historic year to the current year. The Search can be used to filter long lists of Setups, with the matching list auto-filtering as your type a user name. Notice the Usage column, which will show a progress bar of leave requests vs. total leave allowance - pending status leave shows in orange, approved leave shows in green and excess leave beyond the total leave allowance shows in red.

The cog actions menu on the right-hand side of the list has options to View, Edit, Duplicate or Delete a Leave Setup.

Starting a new holiday/leave year

You'll need to make some preparations for the start of each new leave period. Users will not be able to add leave requests of any leave type for any period that is not covered by a Leave Setup. The easiest way to do this is to Duplicate an existing Leave Setup - perhaps a previous Leave Setup or one belonging to a similar user. Here's how...

From the list of Leave Setup section select Duplicate from the cog actions menu on the right-hand side of a user's existing Leave Setup within the list.

On the Duplicate leave setup pop-up make any necessary changes; in particular, check the User and also update the leave Period date range to reflect the new Leave Setup period. Check that the Leave Hours, Working Days and Line Managers are still appropriate - for example, your organisations policy may be to increase leave entitlement for each completed year of service. You may find it helpful to use the Notes box to add details of any changes you are making for the new Leave Setup period. Click Save when you are finished.

Repeat the above steps to duplicate and add a new Leave Setup for each of your users for the new holiday/leave year.

Adding a leave request

Users with Manage/Admin permissions for the Calendar module can add a leave request for any user directly through that user's Leave Setup "View" page - click Add leave request...

...or from the Leave Requests section of the Calendar module - click Add leave request...

Any users, and those with Use-only permissions for the Calendar module, can only add their own leave requests from the My Leave Requests section - click Add leave request...

For each of these methods the Add leave request window opens. Depending on where the window was launched from you'll first select a User and the Leave Setup period that the request relates to. Built-in validation will prevent a leave request being added for dates that are outside of the selected Leave Setup period.

Complete the rest of the leave request details - select the leave Type, add any optional Notes, and select Unavailable to also add matching unavailability to the Rotas module (see the next section in this article for further information).

Finally, enter the leave request Dates - a leave request is added for the full date range specified, even if the Leave Setup 'working days' for the leave request are a shorter date range. This allows for a full period of user absence to be recorded, regardless of the user's working days within the leave request period. Only working days (determined by the user's Leave Setup) are counted against the selected leave Type, and only working days for a 'Holiday' Type are deducted from the user's remaining Leave Setup entitlement.

If a leave request for 'Holiday' exceeds the remaining Leave Setup entitlement a warning is displayed and the user has the option to change the leave request or to tick to override and submit the leave request with the excess. Error detection will prevent a leave request being made that overlaps with another leave request of the same Type.

Based on the leave request Dates selected, working leave days are auto-populated into a list. For any working leave day you can change the defaults (derived from the user's Leave Setup) to switch between All day, AM and PM and change the Hours. Remember, it's the Hours that are deducted from the user's 'Holiday' leave entitlement.

The option to Exclude public holidays (ticked by default) will remove any working days that fall on a public holiday from the leave request and will not count them as a deduction from the user's Leave Setup entitlement.

For 'Holiday' leave requests only, the Add leave request pop-up shows a helpful leave usage indicator at the bottom - which shows previous approved (green) and pending (orange) leave requests, including the current pending leave request - as a proportion of the total leave entitlement for the selected Leave Setup period. Excess leave is shown in red.

Click Save to add the leave request. If Leave Setup Approval is disabled, the leave request is added as if it had been approved by the user who added it and Line Manager notifications are sent. If Leave Setup Approval is enabled, the leave request is added with a pending status and Line Manager notifications are sent. After saving you'll see the leave request's "View" page showing all the leave request details just added. From a leave request "View a user can Edit or Delete a leave request. Administrators and Line Managers will also see options to Approve or Decline (see later in this article).

The leave request is added to the list of leave requests. The View filter option can be used to switch between viewing past or future leave. If you are a user with Use-only permissions for the Calendar module you will only see your own leave listed in the My Leave Requests section. Users with Manage/Admin permissions will see leave listed for all users in the Leave Requests section (with additional filters for leave Type and User. The table of leave requests is orderable by User, Type and Date.) and they will see their own leave only in the My Leave Requests section.

For multi-site accounts you will only see Leave Requests for users who have access to the site you are currently browsing. If you are browsing "All sites" you will only see Leave for users who have access to the sites you have permission to access.

Where Approval is enabled for a Leave Setup, the Leave Requests list includes a visual indicator of each leave request's status - either pending (i.e. still requiring review/approval), approved or declined. Line managers and Manage/Admin users can approve and decline a leave requests, and a previously declined leave request can be later approved (and vice versa).

An Admin can approve/decline any leave request. A user with Manage permissions can approve/decline any leave request except their own (unless they are their own Line Manager). A Line Manager can approve/decline any leave request for a user they line manage. A user with Use permissions will not see any other user's leave requests and is therefore unable to approve/decline them, even if they are a Line Manager (although they will still receive add/approve/decline/delete notifications).

Clicking on a leave request in the Leave Requests list takes you through to the "View" page for that request where you will see the full details of the leave, including the date range, etc. Alongside this we show the leave usage statistics and a condensed calendar for the leave request period to help you visualise the events that are running and who else is off at the same time.

If the leave request dates differs from the expected dates (based upon the Leave Setup working days), a warning message is displayed. This scenario could occur if a user has an additional working day added to their Leave Setup mid-way through the year, but a leave request has already been entered. Existing leave requests do not auto-update to match the setup changes - this is a manual task to update them. For example, a Leave Setup says that a user works Monday and Friday, and on 1st January the user books December 24th-31st as leave. This is added as 2 working days of leave. On 1st July the user's Leave Setup is adjusted to say that they now work Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The existing leave request will not auto-update, but viewing the leave request will inform the user that the existing leave request does not match with the Leave Setup. Click the link provided to resolve the mismatch, which will update the leave request's working days to match the Leave Setup's working days.

A leave request can be edited from either the Leave Requests list or from a leave request's "View" page. It can be edited either by the user themselves or by any user with Manage/Admin permission. If a leave request is edited then the user and Line Manager(s) (minus the person who took the action) will be notified of the change.


If unavailability was added when the leave request was first added, editing the leave request and changing the start/end dates will also update the unavailability entry to match. Similarly, editing a leave request and ticking Unavailable when it was not ticked previously will create unavailability, and editing and unticking Unavailable will remove the unavailability in the Rotas module.


If a user chooses to edit and change a leave request that has already been approved or declined, a message is displayed advising the user that the leave request has previously been approved/declined, and that the changes now being made will require new approval by a Line Manager. On saving the changes the Line Manager(s) will be notified of the leave request as if it was being added as a new leave request.

Where a Leave Setup does not require approval, leave requests can be deleted at any time; by the user themselves, or by any user with Manage/Admin permission. If unavailability was added when the leave request was added, deleting a leave request will also delete the unavailability.

Where a Leave Setup does require approval, leave requests can be deleted at any time by the user themselves, by the Line Manager(s), or by an Administrator. When leave is deleted, the user and Line Manager(s) (minus the person who took the action) will be notified of the deletion. Deleting a leave request will also delete the unavailability.

Adding rota unavailability

As introduced in the previous section, when adding a leave request for any leave type, users are also able to add matching unavailability to the Rotas module. The unavailability is added for the full leave request date range, regardless of the user's working days within that date range. This has the distinct advantage that those viewing the module's Calendar or the Unavailability list in the Rotas module will easily be able to see at a glance when a key team member is absent - which may be wider than just their working days.

If a leave request date range is subsequently changed, the unavailability entry is automatically updated to match. If a leave request is subsequently declined or deleted, or if Unavailable is subsequently unticked on a leave request, the unavailability entry is automatically removed.

Leave request unavailability

The Unavailable tick box will not be visible when adding leave requests if: -

  • The user is not linked to a contact profile in the Address Book (because unavailability is added for contacts, not users).
  • The Unavailability feature has not been enabled (or is currently disabled) in the Rotas module's settings.
  • Your organisation does not subscribe to the Rotas module.

Leave approval

If the leave request's linked Setup is not set as "Requires Approval", leave requests are added as if they had been approved by the user who added them and no other "approval information" will be displayed.

However, if the leave request's linked Setup is set as "Requires Approval" and the user viewing the leave request is one of the Line Managers or an Administrator, the ability to Approve or Decline the pending leave request is provided. Each time leave is approved or declined the user and date/time of the action is recorded in the leave request's Changes log.

Clicking Approve will ask the user to confirm the action and change the leave status from Pending to Approved. The leave user will be notified of the status change. Approved leave can be declined (which would remove any linked unavailability).

Clicking Decline will ask the user to enter a message (required) as to why the leave is being declined and will change the status from Pending to Declined. If unavailability was added when the leave was added, the unavailability will be deleted. The leave user will be notified of the status change. Declined leave can be approved (which would re-create unavailability if the option was ticked).

Adding custom leave types

While ChurchSuite includes commonly-used leave types - for Holiday, Out of Office, Working from Home, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Time off in Lieu, Compassionate Leave and Sickness - it's also possible to add custom leave types in the Calendar module's settings.

From the Module Options tab click Add type.

Custom leave types added are immediately selectable in the Type drop-down list when adding leave requests.

If you subsequently delete a custom leave type, existing leave requests for that type will be changed to Unknown, but the leave requests are still retained.

Deleting a leave setup

If at any point you need to delete a user's Leave Setup, select Delete from the cog action menu on the right-hand side of the Leave Setup list.

You'll be taken through a two-stage confirmation process. Deleting a user's Leave Setup will delete all leave requests linked to that that leave setup period. Deleting a Leave Setup is irreversible - delete with extreme caution!

Keeping on top of the changes

Whenever changes are made to a user's Leave Setup a record of the changes ares added to the Changes log visible at the bottom of the Leave Setup "View" page. The log includes the change date and time, the user that made the change, and a description of the change.

Similarly, when changes are made to a leave request a record of the changes ares added to the Changes log visible at the bottom of the leave request's "View" page. The log includes the change date and time, the user that made the change, and a description of the change.

Changes made to leave working days for a leave request are shown in a separate Changes log - click the View changes action on the cog wheels icon next to a leave day in the list. Notice also that a date and user is recorded next to the leave request Status telling you when that leave request status was last changed.

The Calendar module's Reports section includes some helpful "Deleted" reports, including reports to identify Deleted Leave Setups and Deleted Leave Requests. Each report lists details of the deletion and who made the changes and when.

The Leave Summary report provides a helpful overview list of leave taken and a summary of total leave taken/remaining for each user. The report can be produced to a selected Leave Setup Period - click Generate to apply report filter changes and see the matching results.

Sickness

While all users are able to record most types of Leave - holiday, compassionate leave, out of office, including any custom leave types you have added - sickness requires a user to have "Manage" permissions for the Calendar module in order to be able to add sickness leave against a user. This is intended functionality to ensure that statutory leave records for sickness (which may give rise to a payroll adjustment) are managed appropriately by a manage-level user and prevent use-only level Users from adding sickness records themselves!

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