Four for Five Employment Options

Approval Date
11 April 2022
Approved By
Chief Executive
Next Review
30 November 2022
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety
Baldrige Criteria
Workforce focus

The Four for Five Scheme (the Scheme) is a way of providing permanent staff members who work 0.6 full-time equivalent (FTE) or above, a period of six (6) or twelve (12) months away from Otago Polytechnic Limited. This provides an opportunity for refreshment, both personally and professionally.


Holidays Act 2003, and all subsequent amendments

Income Tax Act 2007, and all subsequent amendments


Application and Approval 

The Four for Five Employment Options Scheme is closed to new applications. This policy only applies to staff already in the scheme as at 1 July 2022.

  1. Applications to enter the Scheme will be made in writing to the Formal Leader to whom the staff member reports. The Formal Leader will consider, comment on, and forward the application with a recommendation to the Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety.
  2. There will be two (2) Scheme start dates each year – the first day of the first pay period in January and the first day of the first pay period in July. Applications should be lodged with your Formal Leader as soon as possible prior to the proposed start date of the Scheme. All applications must be with People and Culture as follows:
    • 2.1. Start Date early January – applications due in People and Culture by 31 October (No applications being taken)
    • 2.2. Start Date early July – applications due in People and Culture by 30 April (No applications being taken).
  3. When making the application, the staff member shall specify the Four for Five employment option which they wish to undertake, A or B, the date that they which to start the Scheme (either the first day of the first pay period in January or the first day of the first pay period in July) and the dates that they propose for the leave period.
  4. A staff member's acceptance into the Scheme is at the discretion of the Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety however approval of an application to join the Scheme will not be unreasonably withheld, provided the applicant meets the following criteria:
    • 4.1. is a permanent staff member
    • 4.2. is employed as 0.6 FTE or more
    • 4.3. is not subject to any disciplinary or performance management process at the time of application.
  5. A staff member cannot re-enter the Scheme until they have completed the full leave period associated with their current application.
  6. The People and Culture Team will advise the applicant and their Formal Leader of the decision and, if successful, will confirm the starting date for salary deductions.
  7. An applicant can appeal against a decision to decline their Such appeal shall be made in writing to the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive's decision will be final.
  8. An application may be declined or accepted with a deferred start date for the leave period if otherwise, an unreasonable load of leave would occur for the academic department/service area at one time, or an unwarranted disruption during a programme or operational cycle would result. Deferments shall be the minimum required to deal with the problem. Applicants may withdraw if proposed deferments do not suit them.


  1. When staff join the Scheme, they are paid at eighty percent (80%) of their normal salary for the period they are in the Scheme (the Scheme period). At the conclusion of the work years of the Scheme, staff are able to take leave from their substantive role at Otago Polytechnic Limited six (6) months for option A or twelve (12) months for option B (refer to Appendix 1).
  2. During the entire Scheme period, including the work years and the leave period, the staff member will be paid at eighty percent (80%) of their normal salary
  3. Other non-monetary benefits such as the use of Otago Polytechnic Limited equipment, unless otherwise specifically agreed, will be available only for work years of the Scheme.
  4. Superannuation and/or insurance entitlements will apply throughout the period of the Scheme. Note however that superannuation deductions will be made off the reduced salary amount.
  5. Discretionary leave will not accrue while the staff member is on Four for Five leave.
  6. Four for Five leave is accrued and recorded in the Otago Polytechnic Limited payroll system during the Scheme period and must be entered into ME@OP as Four for Five leave when it is taken.


Other conditions and information

  1. Time off Work (leave) on Four for Five: After two (2) or four (4) years from the start date of a staff member’s entry to the Scheme, twenty-six (26) or fifty-two (52) weeks Four for Five leave shall be taken. This is generally immediately following the two (2) or four (4) year work period, unless there was a deferment previously agreed as per clause 8. If after the start date of the Scheme, the staff member wishes to defer or split the leave period they should apply to the Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety, who will consider applications on a case-by-case basis with approval dependent on operational need and Formal Leader support. The staff member will remain employed by Otago Polytechnic Limited while they are in the leave period, so agreements around confidentiality and intellectual property will continue to apply. The staff member's obligations of fidelity and good faith (which includes being responsive and communicative) will also continue to apply.
  2. Employment on Top of Four for Five: Nothing in this policy shall prevent any staff member, during and limited to the Four for Five leave period, from entering into another employment agreement with another employer or entering into a contract for services with Otago Polytechnic Limited to complete work not connected to their substantive position, provided no conflicts of interest arise. There may be a conflict of interest if the staff member's employment agreement or contract with another organisation brings Otago Polytechnic Limited into disrepute or if there is a risk of disclosure of Otago Polytechnic Limited’s commercially sensitive information or intellectual property. If a staff member participating in the Scheme plans to work for another organisation (either as a staff member or contractor or if they plan to set up their own business), they will be expected to be transparent with Otago Polytechnic Limited about this so that any potential conflicts of interest can be managed.
  3. Unpaid Leave While in the Scheme: Should the staff member require a period of unpaid leave during the time they are in the work years of the Scheme (e.g., parental leave, approved leave without pay, or Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) situations), the Scheme will be frozen in time for the period of the leave and extended by the exact period of unpaid leave. In the event of this happening a revised start date for the Four for Five leave will be agreed upon.
  4. Financial Implications: Depending on personal circumstances, participation in the Scheme may have an impact on income tax, superannuation, ACC, and other associated areas. These matters are the staff member’s personal responsibility, however, if you would like to discuss your personal situation, please contact the Director: Financial Services.
  5. Withdrawal From the Scheme: A staff member may withdraw from the Scheme at any time prior to taking the leave by giving one (1) month’s notice in writing to the Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety. If a staff member withdraws from the Scheme or resigns from their employment with Otago Polytechnic Limited, all salary deductions will be reimbursed to the staff member.
  6. Change in Employment Status: If a staff member who is participating in the Scheme changes their position or proportion of employment at Otago Polytechnic Limited, the Polytechnic reserves the right to reconsider ongoing participation in the Scheme. Otago Polytechnic Limited must consult with the staff member to seek a mutually agreeable arrangement for the Scheme. In the event that approval to continue is denied, the staff member shall be treated as if they had withdrawn from the Scheme, except no notice period is


Note: Extract from People and Culture letter regarding this Policy:

In joining the Four for Five Employment Scheme you understand that your entitlement to remain in the Scheme is subject to potential policy changes by Te Pūkenga, for which Otago Polytechnic Limited is a subsidiary.  Should the Scheme be altered (or removed entirely) your terms and conditions may be reviewed at the appropriate time.  This may include a withdrawal from the Scheme and your accrued Four for Five leave to be reimbursed.”


  • Four for Five Standard Operating Procedures and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) – Refer to Appendix 1.




Dr Megan Gibbons

Chief Executive

Date: 27 April 2022


Policy Version V5: Previously Coded MP0438

Appendix 1 Four for Five Employment Options Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures Four for Five Employment Options Policy

Staff members of Otago Polytechnic Limited may apply to vary the structure of their employment relationship for a set period of time (the Scheme period). During the Scheme period, they will be paid eighty percent (80%) of their normal salary and accrue Four for Five leave. There will be no substantive change in duties for staff whose application to join the Scheme is accepted and they will return to their substantive role once they leave the Scheme.

For clarity, the Scheme is a staff member benefit, and all 0.6 Fulltime Equivalents (FTE) or above permanent staff members can apply. It is initiated by staff member request and there is no requirement or expectation by Otago Polytechnic Limited that any staff member join the Scheme.

 The two options are:

 1. A two-and-a-half (2 ½) year Scheme period, comprised of two (2) work years and six (6) months leave.

 2. A five (5) year Scheme period, comprised of four (4) work years and twelve (12) months leave.

The intention is that the leave period is to be taken as a consecutive period of six (6) months for option A and twelve (12) months for option B at the conclusion of the work years of the Scheme. A staff member can apply to the Deputy Chief Executive:  People, Culture and Safety to split or defer the leave period as detailed in paragraph 14 of the Four to Five Policy.

The leave period is paid out at eighty percent (80%) of the normal salary at the time the leave is taken. The exception to this is if the staff member withdraws from the Scheme early (before the two and a half (2 ½) or five (5) years is completed), in this case, the accrued salary deductions will be reimbursed to them.

Four for Five Employment Options FAQ’s


What advantages are there in Four for Five employment?

Four for Five employment produces another option for the regular refreshment of staff members to pursue any activities which are important to them, e.g., leisure, travel, personal study, trying out other employment options. The Scheme is also a means by which staff members who are contemplating retirement can have a trial period of retirement and can reduce their income in preparation.

This has obvious advantages for both staff members and Otago Polytechnic Limited.  It also is a way of creating opportunities within and/or for other Otago Polytechnic Limited or visiting staff members to gain experience.


What can staff members do in the period off on pay?

Anything they like – the only limitation is if a conflict of interest may arise. Aside from this Otago Polytechnic Limited has no claim on the time. The options might include:

  • Further training
  • Working for another employer
  • Visiting other institutes/organisations
  • Undertaking research, funded or unfunded, related, or unrelated
  • Gaining industry experience
  • Gaining higher or other qualifications
  • Doing consultancies
  • Setting up a business
  • Travel
  • Holiday
  • Caring for dependents
  • Writing a book.


Are there any employer and staff member obligations during the leave period?

Yes. Otago Polytechnic Limited has an obligation to keep your job for you to return to. The only exception to this is in the case of a bona fide surplus staffing situation in the staff member's area of employment. In this case, the staff member has all of the rights they would have enjoyed had they still been at work.

You have a common law obligation as a staff member of Otago Polytechnic Limited not to do anything by which you actively seek to undermine Otago Polytechnic Limited’s interests (known as the obligation of fidelity). You will remain employed by Otago Polytechnic Limited during your period of leave so the terms of your Employment Agreement regarding confidentiality, intellectual property and good faith remain applicable to you.


Is there any bond to return to Otago Polytechnic Limited after the leave period?

No. If you wish you may resign at the end of the leave period. Normal notice periods would apply.


What if I have to leave Otago Polytechnic Limited before my leave period in the Scheme?

Any deductions will be reimbursed to you.


Am I entitled to apply for Otago Polytechnic Limited grants and assistance to use during the leave period?

Yes. Any application can be considered under the normal terms of reference for the grant or assistance scheme.


What job do I come back to after the leave period?

The same one you left, allowing for ordinary changes over the leave period.