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Shorter working year

What it is

The shorter working year scheme aims to help civil servants to balance their working arrangements with outside commitments.


To be eligible to apply for Shorter working year, you must be serving in a department or office in an established or unestablished position. Full-time staff, work sharers and other part-time staff can apply; officers on probation cannot apply.

Even while on special leave, you retain your civil servant status. This means you are subject to all relevant legislation and codes, including the code of conduct and disciplinary code.


You can take special leave in one of two ways: the first is in one continuous period of two, four, six, eight, ten or thirteen weeks. (Employees at the Department of Social Protection are restricted to either two, ten or thirteen weeks only.)

The second option is to take up to three separate periods, each consisting of a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of twelve weeks in total unpaid special leave. (Department of Social Protection employees are exempt from this option.)

You need to discuss any shorter working year arrangements with local management before applying, keeping in mind the business needs of the department or office.

If business needs prevent you from being granted the leave you want, you should be open to discussing possible alternative arrangements. You can refer to Circular 14/2009 for some examples.

Pay during special leave

The period of special leave is unpaid, but you can apply for an arrangement to have part of your basic salary paid during the leave period. To avail of the pro rata option, you need to submit, and get approval for, your application for a ‘spread salary’ by a specified date each year communicated by NSSO.

Alternatively, you can choose the ‘off-pay’ option which means employees are off the payroll for 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 13 weeks, or a combination of three periods totalling 12 weeks. (Employees of the Department of Social Protection are restricted to 2, 10 or 13 weeks only.)

Shorter working year pro rata calculation

Before applying

If you want to apply for SWY ‘off pay’ for 10 or 13 weeks or a combination of three periods totalling 12 weeks, you must also adhere to the closing dates as confirmed above.

However, applications for 2, 4, 6, 8 weeks can be applied for at any time of the year but must be approved and received by the NSSO at least six weeks in advance of the date you intend to start the leave.

Under Circular 14/2009 paragraph. 27, you or your manager cannot withdraw or alter an application for the scheme once you have been approved to take SWY leave on a pro rata pay basis.

You must choose a Monday start date for all SWY pro rata pay applications, regardless of your work pattern

The 13 weeks option is only available to take as one continuous period

Employees availing of SWY pro rata pay may not vary their working hours during the same calendar year

SWY will affect your total annual leave allocation for the year. This will be calculated on a pro-rata basis depending on the length of SWY leave you take.

SWY is without pay and is treated as a break in service for pension purposes.


To submit an application, you can log into HR self-service. To attach supporting documents, to view progress on an existing case, or to submit a manual application form, you can log into the case management system. Please note: only officers without HR self-service access may submit manual forms.

Form: shorter working year application

How-to guide: shorter working year

Shorter Working Year FAQs