Document Type. Sickness Absence Policy. Document Description. Lead Author(s) Associate Director of People and Workforce Development

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1 Document Title Sickness Absence Policy Document Description Document Type Service Application Human Resources Trust Wide Version 2.1 Policy Reference No POL 156 Ashi Williams Lead Author(s) Associate Director of People and Workforce Development Version Date Comments Change History Version Control 2 (Draft) 17/03/15 Sent for comments and Staff Partnership Forum /05/15 Approved at Staff Partnership Forum 19/05/2015 Version formally ratified 27/08/2015 National Health Service Litigation Authority Link with National Standards Care Quality Commission National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidance National Patient Safety Agency West Midlands Quality Review Essence of Care Aims Standards Key Dates Day Month Year Ratification Date Review Date

2 Executive Summary Sheet Document Title: Sickness Absence Policy Please tick () as appropriate This is a new document within the Trust This is a revised document within the Trust What is the purpose of this document? The Trust is committed to providing high quality care to patients within a safe environment by appropriately qualified and competent staff as part of this it is the purpose of this policy is to assist managers and employees in addressing sickness absence. It aims to ensure that a fair, consistent and supportive approach is adopted when supporting employees who have health problems. Employees, workers, and / or contractors who this policy applies to will be expected to uphold the Values of the Trust and exhibit the expected Trust behaviours aligned to the Trust s values. Individuals have a responsibility to ensure that they display Trust values and behaviours in applying this policy and that individual s feel able to challenge(or raise a challenge) when other colleagues behaviours breach the spirit of Trust value. What key issues does this document explore? This policy outlines a number of key topics around sickness and absence, including: Roles and responsibilities of staff, managers and the HR department. Processes and procedures around sickness and absence Appeals processes Phased return to work Restrictions in carrying out your role Who is this document aimed at? This policy is aimed at all employees within Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust What other policies, guidance and directives should this document be read in conjunction with? Equality and Diversity policy How and when will this document be reviewed? Every three years or as and when legislation changes 1

3 Contents 1. Introduction 3 2. Principles 3 3. Roles and Responsibilites Sickness Procedures Managing Sickness Procedure Appeals Procedure Restricted Duties and Phase Return to Work Consideration to Reasonable adjustments Unable to work in any capacity within the Trust Monitor and Review

4 1. Introduction Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust is committed to providing high quality care to patients within a safe environment by appropriately qualified and competent staff therefore it is the purpose of this policy is to assist managers and employees in addressing sickness absence. It aims to ensure that a fair, consistent and supportive approach is adopted when supporting employees who have health problems. The Trust aims to maximise the attendance at work of all employees and aspires to 100% attendance from all its employees. However, it is recognised that a certain level of absence may occur due to ill health. Optimum levels of attendance help everyone by enabling high quality services to be provided to patients and service users, by contributing to increased morale within teams and by reducing the potential stress caused by the need to cover for absent colleagues. The Trust is therefore committed to taking a pro-active approach in supporting employees to return to work at the earliest opportunity. 2. Principles The process must be fair and consistent and all decisions made objectively. Training will be provided for managers and staff representatives to ensure as far as possible the consistent application of this procedure. We believe that early intervention, supportive measures, regular case management and good mutual two way communication are essential for managers to manage sickness absence effectively. We have a legal duty not to discriminate against staff with a disability and to consider making reasonable adjustments to enable them to work. When managing sickness absence, reference will be made to the Equality Act Such cases will be dealt with on an individual basis, taking account of the details of each, case by case. We will make you aware of your rights to be represented or accompanied at all formal stages of the procedure by a trade union representative or a work colleague. Your confidentiality will be maintained at all times. However, we have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of staff, service users, carers and the public. Therefore we will discuss with you if information needs to be shared with any other party. 3

5 3. Roles and Responsibilities 3.1 Heads of Service/Associate Directors/Directors Heads of Service/Associate Directors/Directors will: Promote this policy and ensure its effective implementation, ensuring consistency of approach at all times. Ensure that all managers understand their responsibilities for action and confidentiality. Be designated as the officer empowered to dismiss (this may be exceptionally designated to their deputy) at a final stage sickness hearing 3.2 Line Managers 3.3 Staff The role of the Line Manager is to: Understand the policy and apply it appropriately, ensuring consistency of approach. Maintain contact with staff who may be absent from work due to sickness and ensure that this is recorded accurately. Ensure that HR are notified as soon as possible when staff are absent from work due to an accident or industrial disease. Ensure that staff are aware of their responsibilities as per this policy. Ensure that staff who have been absent due to sickness take part in a return to work discussion after each episode of sickness absence. Ensure that disability related absence is reviewed regularly in the light of the Trust s obligations to consider making reasonable adjustments. Contact HR and/or the Occupational Health Service to seek support and guidance to manage sickness absence effectively and support return to work plans. All staff: Have a responsibility to attend work consistently and take personal responsibility for your own health and well being. Have a duty to discuss any reasonable adjustments that may be necessary in relation to any disability and to notify your manager of any changes in your health that will affect you in the workplace. Must meet the requirements of the Trust for the notification, certification and management of sickness absence. To inform their line manager and/or the Occupational Health Service of any known disability at pre and post employment stages to assist with consideration to reasonable adjustments. Participate in a return to work interviews with line manager following every episode of sickness absence. Attend appointments and engage with the Occupational Health Service and provide consent to access GP records (when appropriate). 4

6 3.4 Human Resources Human Resources will: Provide advice and guidance to everyone on the application of this policy. Ensure that the policy is fairly and consistently applied across the Trust. Support managers in the management of sickness absence. 3.5 Occupational Health Service Occupational Health: Provide a confidential, independent medical opinion on matters relating to employment and health including issues relating to the Equality Act. May be contacted by either individual or manager when there is a health concern at any point 3.6 Staff Side Staff Side/trade union representatives will: Have an important role to play in supporting staff members to maintain high levels of attendance. Work in partnership with the Trust, HR and staff in improving health and well being, managing and minimising sickness absence levels. Provide representation and support to members throughout all stages of the sickness procedure. 4. Sickness procedures 4.1 Notification/Certification of Absence Inpatients/CRHT Staff You will be expected to notify manager as soon as possible but as a minimum 1 hour before start of shift. If your line manager is not available you must notify an appropriate senior member off staff. You will also give an indication of the anticipated return date and reason for sickness absence Corporate/Community Staff 5 You will be expected to notify manager as soon as possible but as a minimum 1 hour before start of shift. If your line manager is not available you must notify an appropriate senior member off staff. You will also give an indication of the anticipated return date and reason for sickness absence. If you are off sick more than 7 calendar days you must provide your manager with a medical certificate covering the period from the 8 th day of absence onwards. If you fail to notify your manager of your sickness absence, or fail to update them on a regular basis you will be considered to be absent without leave, and therefore without pay. In some cases, consideration may be given implementing the Trusts Disciplinary Procedure.

7 4.2 Work related illness and Infectious Disease If an absence has been caused following an accident at work or due to a work related situation, e.g. physical or verbal abuse, you have a duty to report this to your line manager and completing any necessary documentation. Any such absence will be paid in accordance with normal sick pay arrangements. Such sickness absence will be disregarded for the purpose of calculating triggers. If you come into contact with an infectious or notifiable disease you must notify your line manager immediately. If you are required by the Trust to refrain from work following such contact, you will be granted special leave. This will not be regarded as part of your annual leave entitlement or as sick leave. 4.3 Types of Sickness Absence Short Term Sickness The trigger for reviewing short term sickness absence is: 4 episodes of sickness within a rolling 12 month period or 12 days within a rolling 12 month period An identifiable pattern of regular sickness absence Should any absences occur in line with the Equality Act 2010 reference, if appropriate, be made to HR and Equality & Diversity Lead prior to implementation of any formal process. Absences related to underlying conditions will be discussed with your manager. You will update your manager with any changes in your condition and to seek advice from Occupational Health when required Long Term Sickness The trigger for long term sickness absence is 4 weeks. A plan will be agreed between you and your line manager to support you through your absence and to assist your return to work which will outline regular contact with you. Should any absences occur in line with the Equality Act 2010 reference, if appropraiate, be made to HR and Equality & Diversity Lead prior to implementation of any formal process. After 4 weeks of sickness absence your manager will arrange to meet with you to discuss your ongoing absence, a likely return to work date and any support the Trust can provide to enable an early return to work. Referral to the Occupational Health Service may be discussed at this stage. At 8 weeks of sickness your manager should review any actions from the previous meeting and seek further advice through the Occupational Health Service if required. If you have attended Occupational Health Service your manager will meet with you to discuss the report and agree the way forward. 6

8 Regular reviews will take place between you and your line manager. Your manager must arrange to undertake a sickness review prior to the expiry of sick pay. In the event of failure of the Trust to do so, sick pay entitlements should be reinstated at half pay after 12 months of continuous sickness absence as per Agenda for Change Terms & Conditions. Reinstatement of sick pay should continue until the final review meeting has taken place and will only apply where the failure to undertake the final review meeting is due to delay by the Trust in cases where a return to work date is not foreseeable or the likely return to work date is after the expiry of sick pay, consideration will be given to. Where ill health retirement is not an option and you are unable to return to work in any capacity your line manager will meet with you and advise you that a Stage 3 Hearing will be arranged as set out in section Managing Sickness Procedure 7 If you are subject to formal action under the managing sickness procedure, you will be supplied with a copy of the policy. You have the right to be accompanied at formal sickness review meetings and sickness review hearing with either a trade union representative or a friend/colleague not acting in a legal capacity. Consideration should be given to an individual s absence history or personal circumstances prior to entering any formal process. However in all circumstances support should continue to be provided to the individual to minimise any further absences. All discussions should be documented. 5.1 Informal stages Return to Work Interviews Managers are required to acknowledge and discuss each period of sickness absence with the employee following their returning to work. In many cases this is likely to need only a light touch discussion, and a brief note to record that this has been undertaken. However, where the absence is becoming a cause for concern e.g. if an absence pattern is evident or there is a potential underlying health issue or where there is persistent short term absence or work related issues, in some cases it may be necessary to have a structured return to work return to work interview. Both light touch discussions and more structured interviews represent good practice in terms of supporting the employee to attend work and identify any actions needed to achieve this.

9 5.2 Formal stages Stage 1 A stage 1 sickness review meeting will be arranged with you, advising you of your right to be accompanied by a trade union/ or work colleague. Notification of the meeting will be provided to you in writing, with at least 7 calendar days notice, including a copy of this policy. During this period it will allow you to make arrangements for representation. It will be your responsibility to make such arrangements. You will be given the opportunity to explain the reasons for your sickness absence and any other issues that are affecting your attendance at work. The meeting is your opportunity to raise any issue you believe has affected your attendance at work and to ensure that appropriate suport is in place to assist you in improving your attendance. Your attendance will be reviewed at agreed times within your attendance improvement plan and at the end of the review period Your attendance will be reviewed after 3 months. However, an earlier review may be held if there is a continued level of sickness. In exceptional cases (if self certification is withdrawn) you may be required to provide a medical certificate from the 1st day of absence. This would form part of your attendance improvement plan. Your manager will consider what further action the Trust is able to make in order to support you in achieving improved attendance. He/She will also advise you that failure to achieve the attendance plan agreed could result in dismissal from the Trust. At the end of the review period a meeting will take place with your manager. Potential outcomes of the review meeting are as follows: Improvement No further action Further improvement required extend plan for further 3 months totaling 6 months maximum. No further option to extend review period. Insufficient improvement - progress to Stage 2 of the policy The employee should be informed should they through further absences re-trigger the sickness absence again within 12 months from the end of formal review period they may be progressed to Stage Stage 2 A Stage 2 meeting will be arranged with you as per of the policy, with HR present. Stage 2 may be initiated at the end of the Stage 1 review meeting. 8

10 Notification of the meeting will be provided to you in writing, with at least 7 calendar days notice. Your manager will consider what further action the Trust is able to take in order to support you in achieving improved attendance, and if further Occupational Health advice is required. All options should be considered in line with the Equality Act to explore reasonable adjustments and suitable alternative/medical redeployment prior to escalation to Stage 3 Hearing. At the end of the review period a meeting will take place with your manager. Potential outcomes of the review meeting are as follows: Improvement No further action Further improvement required extend plan for further 3 months totaling 6 months maximum. No further option to extend review period. Insufficient improvement - progress to Stage 3 Hearing of the policy The employee should be informed should they through further absences re-trigger the sickness absence again within 12 months from the end of formal review period they may reconvene at Stage Stage 3 (Final Stage Sickness Hearing) A Stage 3 hearing will be arranged and conducted by an Associate Director/Director /Head of Service (Chair person) accompanied by a HR representative and/or another appropriate manager. The chair person will ensure that you are given at least 7 calendar day s written notice of the hearing, informing you of the requirement to attend a sickness hearing and will detail: The date, time and place of the hearing. You have the right to be represented by a trade union representative or work colleague. Possible outcome of the hearing: Action short of dismissal this may involve further time for Improvement or medical redeployment Dismissal - If you are dismissed you will be paid your contractual notice in lieu of notice and any outstanding annual leave. 6.0 Appeals Procedure You have the right of appeal against sickness management action. This is to establish whether the chair person has acted reasonably and fairly in your case. 9 Your grounds for the appeal must be disclosed at the time the appeal is lodged. Your appeal can be against: The severity of the sanction

11 The procedure followed was not fair An appeal must be lodged with the Director of People and Corporate Development within 14 calendar days of receipt of your sickness review outcome letter. An appropriate senior manager, HRrepresentative and/or other appropriate manager will be appointed to hear the appeal within 28 calendar days of receipt of your letter. The Appeal Manager will ensure that you are given at least 7 calendar days written notice, informing you of the requirement to attend an appeal hearing and will detail: The date, time and place of the hearing. The grounds of your appeal and any management case in response to this. Your right to representation. Who will be present and their roles. The purpose of the meeting and possible outcomes. There is no further right of appeal against the decision of the Appeal Manager. 7. Restricted duties and phased return to work An outcome of recommendation from the GP fit note / Occupational Health may be that you can return to work on reduced hours/days or restricted duties. Your manager will discuss with you options to return to work with adjustments to your role or working pattern e.g. on reduced hours/restricted duties etc. for a fixed time period. At the end of the agreed period it will be reviewed with your manager and it is expected that you will return to full duties unless agreement is reached otherwise. A phased return either on reduced hours/days or restricted duties will usually only be agreed for a maximum of 6 weeks unless Occupational Health advise differently. In circumstances where you cannot return to your permanent hours/post after this period, Occupational Health advice will sought regarding whether any further reasonable adjustments can be made to your core role or if medical redeployment is appropriate. 8. Consideration of reasonable adjustments/medical Redeployment Under the Equality Act 2010, we have a duty to consider making any reasonable adjustments that would assist someone who develops/ has a disability. This may include adjustments such as changes to the hours or duties of the post, as well as to equipment or premises. You will be considered for medical redeployment if it has not been possible to make reasonable adjustments to your existing role. 10

12 11 Permanent medical redeployment will only be available to you where it is supported by the opinion of Occupational Health, and agreed between you and your Manager. Where a suitable post is found, a review period will be agreed. If you are covered by the Equality Act and you accept a suitable post at a lower grade you will not receive any pay protection. If you accept a post on the same grade but on reduced hours you will only receive payment for the hours worked. If no suitable post is identified within 3 months from when it was agreed to medical redeploy the employee, or they do not accept a post deemed suitable, this may result in the termination of your contract of employment on the grounds of incapability due to ill health. Any potential dismissal will be managed in accordance with Section of this policy. 9. Unable to work in any capacity within the Trust Where the Occupational Health Service confirms that you are permanently unable to return to work in any capacity, you may wish to consider applying for ill health retirement. In such cases, HR will arrange for ill health pension retirement forms to be sent to you. You may also be fast tracked to a stage 3 hearing as set out in section in this policy. Your date of termination will be the date on which your ill health retirement is approved. You will be paid for any outstanding and accrued annual leave. If you do not accept that you are unable to return to work, or where exceptionally serious differences of views arise e.g. you disagree with the Occupational Health assessment, you may request an independent Occupational Health assessment. 10. Monitoring and review The Trust will monitor the operation of this policy in order to: Measure its effectiveness Comply with the Trust s legal obligations and highlight practical issues and seek solutions The following areas will be monitored: Activities relating to the collection of data for the purposes of monitoring sickness absence The instances of non recording of sickness absence reasons Departments Management of sickness absence e.g. the numbers of staff on each of the formal stages of the procedures This policy will be reviewed after 3 years, when there are any changes in legislation or at the request of either management or staff side. Managers must ensure that in applying this policy and any local rules on sickness reporting, due regard must be given to the principles of equality and diversity.

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