PROMOTING ATTENDANCE AT WORK - ADVICE FOR EMPLOYEES

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1 ITEM 10.4 Appendix 2 DRAFT June 2012 WORKFORCE PROMOTING ATTENDANCE AT WORK - ADVICE FOR EMPLOYEES June

2 Contents Page number 1. Key Things to Know 3 2. General Statement 5 3. Responsibilities 5 4. Taking Informal Action 7 5. Reasonable Adjustments 7 6. Occupational Health Service 7 7. Taking Formal Action 8 8. Preparation for an Attendance Review Meeting 8 9. Short Term Sick Leave Process Long Term Sick Leave Process Occupational Health Case Conferences Senior Management Engagement Appeal against decision to ser an Attendance Improvement Standard Appeal against Dismissal Helpful contact numbers 11 June

3 1. Key Things to Know This document should be read in conjunction with NHS Tayside Promoting Attendance at Work Procedures. NHS Tayside promotes a work focused approach to managing sickness absence: This means focusing on what you can do, or might be capable of doing with reasonable help and support to help you stay in work or return sooner than you might otherwise. This approach incorporates the principles of the Statement of Fitness for Work (Fit Note or Statement) to all sickness absence. Your manager is required to consider with you if any adjustments or support would assist you to attend work from the first day of your absence and thereafter. When you return to work from sickness absence your manager will meet with you at a Return to Work Discussion. Attendance: If there are concerns about your attendance at work, your manager is required to discuss it with you. This discussion will be about the level, frequency or pattern of your absences and what can be done to reduce them, not about whether the absence is genuine. When your attendance reaches an unsatisfactory level, the formal process can begin. Responsibilities: You and your manager have an important responsibility to reduce absence levels when they become unacceptably high or too frequent. You are expected to keep sickness absences to a minimum. Your manager will deal with your case sensitively and fairly. Taking Informal Action: Your manager is likely to discuss any concerns about your sickness absences with you informally to begin with. Reasonable Adjustments: Your manager will, with you consider making reasonable adjustments to your working environment if you have a disability or underlying medical condition. Occupational Health: The Occupational Health & Safety Advisory Service (OHSAS) can help you and your manager to resolve a problem with your attendance or prevent a problem developing. If you agree to your case being sent for professional occupational health advice, you may be asked to speak to a doctor or nurse. Taking Formal Action: If your attendance remains a problem, your manager will begin the formal absence management process. Preparation for a Short Term Sickness Absence Formal Review meeting: Your manager will need to investigate the situation and gather information before the meeting. Short Term Sickness Absence Formal Review process: Your manager will follow the stages of the attendance management process to ensure your attendance returns to a satisfactory level. June

4 Where your absence has been unsatisfactory, you may be set an Attendance Improvement Standard. The period and level of your review period will be determined by your individual circumstances. If you suffer from a disability or underlying medical condition this will be taken into consideration. Long Term or Continuous Absence Process: If you are absent for a continuous period of time, of 14 days or more, your manager will arrange to meet at your place of work, home or an alterative location to understand what support you need to return to work at the earliest possible date. Fit for Work Plan: If your absence continues your manager will work with you to develop a Fit for Work plan. In addition if you are at work and need support your manager will work with you to develop a Fit for Work Plan. To support staff consideration should also be given to appropriate use of family friendly policies, Carer Leave, Special leave etc. Case Conference: If you are absent from work for 3 months your manager will arrange a case conference with Occupational Health and a representative from the Human Resources Directorate to discuss how to manage your absence. Senior Manager Engagement: If you are absent from work for 6 months or more your manager will engage a more senior manager in your case. Dismissal: If you are unable to return to good attendance within a reasonable timescale, dismissal will be considered. Appeal against an Attendance Improvement Standard: If you have been set an Attendance Improvement Standard and you do not believe the process has been correctly followed or your statutory rights have been affected, then you can appeal against it. Appeal against decision to dismiss: If you are dismissed you can appeal in writing within 10 days of receiving the written decision. June

5 2. General Statement NHS Tayside is committed to ensuring your job and working environment do not cause or contribute to ill-health and to providing support for you if you are unable to come to work through ill-health. NHS Tayside provides extensive support services including an Occupational Health Service and generous sick leave provision if you are sick or have incapacity. In return you are expected to use these benefits only when you are genuinely ill. NHS Tayside has a Policy and separate Procedures document for managing sickness absence. High levels of sickness absence make it more difficult to provide healthcare services to the standard expected by the public and our employees. It also places a disproportionate burden on the employees who remain at work who have to make up for their absent colleagues. A high level of absence from work affects your ability to do your job to the standards required. It may indicate you have health problems, which need attention. Alternatively it may indicate that you have other work or home related problems Whatever the reasons are, it is in the interests of you and NHS Tayside to identify the cause and find a solution. Where your level of sickness absence causes concern your manager must consider appropriate action, which could include formal action. Your manager will take a flexible and supportive approach and try to find the best solution in the circumstances. This does not mean that absences will be supported regardless of their number, duration or frequency. Your manager s role is to use their judgement and the discretion afforded them in the Policy and Procedures, to decide how long it is reasonable to support periods of absence in the expectation of a return to satisfactory attendance. In accordance with the procedures your manager will use Formal Attendance Improvement Standards to address unsatisfactory attendance. Formal action is not automatic. Your individual circumstances will be taken into consideration and dismissal will only be considered as a final option. 3. Responsibilities You are expected to: Attend work for the hours you are contractually obliged to work unless you are too ill to do so. Take measures to minimise the risk of you being absent from work due to illness. Notify your manager if you are too ill to come into work, by a time locally agreed. Provide a self certificate or medical certificate for all appropriate periods of sickness absence as detailed within NHS Tayside Promoting Attendance at Work Procedures. June

6 Use NHS Tayside s support services if appropriate (e.g. OHSAS, Physiotherapy, Counselling etc). Take an active part in return to work discussions. Keep in touch with your manager or another senior manager during any absence. Attend Occupational Health Service (OHSAS) appointments. Engage constructively with your manager in discussions about the reasons for your absence and possible adjustments or support that will assist you to attend work. You have a right to expect: That your job and working environment do not cause or contribute to ill health. Your manager to support you from the first day of your absence from work to make the quickest recovery possible. This requires you and your manager to consider the potential benefits of temporary adjustments from the first day of your sick leave. Your manager to talk to you informally if your absence record is causing concern. Your manager to take decisions promptly or without unavoidable delay. To be given the opportunity to improve your attendance within a reasonable period of time. NHS Tayside to take all reasonable steps to support you if your health affects your ability to attend work and/or do your job. Your manager to fulfil their duty to make reasonable adjustments if you are disabled. Reasonable support in your rehabilitation back to work. Your manager will develop a Fit for Work Plan with you with actions to help you return to work. To be accompanied to formal and informal meetings by a Trade Union representative or work colleague of your choice throughout the attendance procedures. To be treated fairly and with dignity and respect at all times, in accordance with the Dignity at Work Policy. Confidentiality. 4. Taking Informal Action June

7 When you return from any sickness absence, you must have a Return to Work Discussion with your manager. Your manager will speak to you if they begin to have concerns about your sickness absence record. This should be done at the Return to Work Discussion or at a separate informal meeting. However when your attendance reaches an unsatisfactory level, the formal process can begin. 5. Reasonable Adjustments If you are disabled, your manager has a duty to consider making reasonable adjustments to enable you to attend work, carry out your role effectively and meet the usual attendance standard where possible. Any reasonable adjustments which are made to your job, working environment and working patterns will be kept under review. An adjustment would not be considered reasonable if it adversely affects either service delivery or a member of staffs colleagues. To support staff consideration should also be given to appropriate use of family friendly policies, Carer Leave, Special leave etc. 6. Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Service (OHSAS) The OHSAS can help you and your manager to resolve a problem with your attendance, or prevent a problem developing. Your manager may ask you to consent to your case being referred for occupational health advice. If you are absent with a mental health condition (e.g. stress, depression) or musculoskeletal disorder (e.g. back pain), your manager may ask you to consent to an occupational health referral on the first day of your absence for advice on what can be done at work to help and support you. If you consent to your case being referred for OHSAS advice, you may be invited to a consultation with a doctor or nurse; this consultation might be face-to-face or over the telephone. The OHSAS may also contact your GP or specialist. If you do not consent, your manager will decide what to do about your absences without guidance from an independent occupational health practitioner. Usually a referral will be made if your manager: Needs to understand the impact of your health on your ability to attend work or carry out your job and advice on increasing your work capacity. Needs early advice where your absence is because of mental health condition or a musculoskeletal disorder. Needs to understand whether you have a disability or underlying health condition and how this might affect your attendance at work, such as how long or how often you are likely to be off work, in order to make decisions about the action that needs to be taken. Needs advice in order to consider suitable reasonable adjustments or a fit for work plan to help you to return to work and support you when you return. June

8 Is considering dismissal from work or Ill Health Retirement may be an option for you. More information on Ill Health Retirement can be obtained fro the Scottish Public Pensions Agency. Your manager will arrange a case conference between them and an occupational health adviser once your continuous absence reaches 3 months a representative from the Workforce Directorate will also be involved. After the case conference your manager will discuss any new actions with you and up-date you re Fit for Work Plan. 7. Taking Formal Action If your absence is unsatisfactory, your manager will use the Attendance Management Procedures to find a solution that will enable you to return to work or improve your attendance. This is the point at which your manager is required to consider your level of absence. The outcome of formal action is not pre-determined and interviews can result in one or more of the following outcomes: The provision of help e.g. reasonable adjustment, referral to physiotherapy, referral to the counselling and psychology service; The procurement of advice e.g. from the Occupational Health Service who provide advice/solutions on work place issues, office accommodation, furniture etc; The issuing of a Formal Attendance Improvement Standard; A decision not to issue a Formal Attendance Improvement Standard; A decision to increase the Formal Attendance Improvement Standard where the employee is disabled. If, however, your manager has evidence that your attendance is below the standard expected by the Department because of your conduct rather than your inability to attend work, they will consider disciplinary action instead. 8. Preparation for an Attendance Review Meeting Your manager will need to investigate the situation and gather information before the meeting. They will; Prepare for the meeting, ensuring that they can explain clearly to you the reasons for the meeting and the information available. Make and keep a written record about any formal meetings or discussions they have with you. You should prepare for the meeting by: Reviewing your attendance record. Reading the Attendance Management Policy and Procedures Documents. June

9 Obtaining information about the role of the Occupational Health Service (OHSAS) in case your manager asks you to consent to an OHSAS referral. Arranging for a Trade Union representative or work colleague to accompany you if you wish. 9. Short Term Sick Leave Attendance Process Your manager will invite you to a formal meeting to discuss your attendance when your absences have reached a unsatisfactory level. The table below summarises the action to be taken at each stage of the process: Short Term Sickness Absence Formal Review Process Short Term Sickness Absence Further action Consideration for Dismissal Where your manager considers your sickness absence is of concern, they should meet formally with you to discuss the reasons for absence and highlight the nature of their concern. An outcome of this meeting may result in a formal Attendance Improvement Standard being set. The implications of a failure to achieve a reasonable level of attendance on your continuing employment should also be stated. Following the review period or any time during the review, if the agreed level of attendance has not been achieved; a further Attendance Improvement Standard may be set. You would then be cautioned that any further failure to improve may lead to consideration of termination of employment, this would be dependant on the circumstances of each case. You will be invited to a formal meeting where the manager with authority to dismiss will consider whether dismissal is appropriate in the circumstances. After the meeting a decision will be taken on whether to dismiss you. In circumstances where the decision not to dismiss you is taken your attendance will be monitored for a further period with any further unsatisfactory absence leading to possible dismissal. At each stage in the process your manager will invite you to a Short Term Sickness Absence Formal Review Meeting. You are expected to attend these meeting as scheduled, unless there are exceptional circumstances why you cannot. You must inform your manager of any such circumstances as soon as you become aware of them. Your manager may adjourn the meeting for a short amount of time to consider all the information provided, so that they can arrive at a considered view. You will also be able to adjourn the meeting if you need to consult with your Trade Union representative or colleague or if you become seriously upset. However, meetings should be conducted as efficiently as possible and any adjournments should not unreasonably prolong the meeting. 10. Long Term Sick Process You are required to keep in regular contact with your manager throughout your absence. June

10 If you are absent for a continuous period of time, your manager must follow the process shown in the following table; 14 day Informal Attendance Review Discussion 28 day Formal Attendance Review Meeting Ongoing monthly Attendance Review Meetings Occupational Health Case Conferences Senior Management Involvement Dismissal If your absence reaches 14 continuous days and you are not due to return to work in the near future, your manager will arrange an informal attendance review discussion with you. This discussion is to discuss if you need any support or adjustments to return to work, keep you up to date with work issues, and find out how long you are likely to be absent. After the review you must agree regular contact arrangements with your manager and tell them immediately if there is any change in your medical condition. When you have been absent for 28 continuous days, your manager will arrange a review meeting with you to discuss any support you need for your return to work. This will include you and your manager developing a Fit for Work Plan. If you are unlikely to return to work within a reasonable time period, your employment with the NHS Tayside may end. If your circumstances mean a return to work is possible within a reasonable timescale, your manager will continue to review your circumstances. Your manager will send you a written record of the discussion. Review meetings should take place on a monthly basis except where this would clearly not be appropriate. Your manager will discuss with you any support you need to return to work which will include developing a Fit for Work Plan or reviewing an existing plan. If at any time during the ongoing review your manager believes that your absence can no longer be supported by the Department, dismissal should be considered. When you have been absent for 3 months or earlier your manager will arrange a case conference with themselves and an occupational health adviser to discuss how to manage your absence. A Human Resources representative is normally involved too. After the case conference your manager will discuss any new actions with you and update your Fit for Work Plan. When you have been absent for 6 months your manager will engage a Senior Manager in your case. The purpose of the engagement is to ensure that you are being given the help and support you need to return to work and that your case is being proactively managed. Ultimately if there is no change in your circumstances, and your manager believes the Department can no longer support your absence your case will be referred to a Senior Manager with authority to dismiss who will decide whether you should be dismissed. The Senior Manager will arrange a meeting with you if dismissal is being considered. For continuous absence, your manager will meet you at work (preferably), in your home or at another suitable location. June

11 You will receive reasonable notice of an attendance review meeting and you are expected to attend the meeting as scheduled, unless there are exceptional circumstances why you cannot. You must inform your manager of any such circumstances as soon as you become aware of them. You manager may adjourn the meeting for a short amount of time to consider all the information provided, so that they can arrive at a considered view. You will also be able to adjourn the meeting if you need to consult with your Trade Union representative or colleague or if you become seriously upset. However, it is envisaged that meetings should be conducted as efficiently as possible and any adjournments should not unreasonably prolong the meeting. 11. Occupational Health Case Conferences Your manager must arrange a case conference with OHSAS once you have been absent for 3 months or earlier if appropriate. At the case conference your manager will discuss your case with an occupational health adviser. A Human Resources representative is also normally involved. The case conference will involve a telephone consultation during which an OHSAS advisor will advise your manager on what further measures, if any, might be taken to resolve your long-term sickness. After the case conference your manager will discuss any new actions with you and update your Fit for Work Plan. 12. Senior Manager Engagement Your manager must engage a more senior manager once your absence reaches 6 months. The purpose of this engagement is to ensure that you are being given the help and support you need to return to work and that your case is being proactively managed. The decision on whether your absence can continue to be supported remains with your manager. However, your manager will be asked to explain their reasoning where your absence is being supported over a long term period. 13. Appeal Against Decision to set an Attendance Improvement Standard You can appeal against the decision to set you an Attendance Improvement Standard or if you do not believe that the process has been correctly followed or that you re statutory rights have been affected. You should follow the process laid out in PAAW procedures. 14. Appeal Against Decision to Dismiss If you are dismissed you can appeal within 10 days of receiving the written decision. It will allow you to present the reasons for your appeal. You may want to seek support from a Trade Union representative or a work colleague. You should follow the process laid out in NHS Tayside PAAW procedures. 15. Helpful contact numbers: Human Resources Directorate: The Occupational Health & Safety Advisory Service: Department of Spiritual Care: x June

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