SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY

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1 SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY Implementation Date: 01 April 2013 Review Date: 01 April 2016 April 2013 V1.0 Page 1 of 12

2 Contents POLICY OVERVIEW... 3 Purpose... 3 Who this Policy applies to... 3 Key Principles... 3 Legal Considerations... 3 SUPPORTING PRINCIPLES... 4 THE POLICY... 5 Employees with disabilities... 5 Using Occupational Health services... 5 If an employee is taken ill at work... 5 If an employee cannot attend work due to illness... 6 Providing evidence of incapacity... 6 If an employee s absence is unauthorised... 7 Sick pay entitlements... 7 Keeping in contact during sickness absence... 7 Hold a return-to-work interview with the employee... 7 Returning to work from long-term sickness absence... 8 Sickness absence meetings procedure... 8 Allow the employee to be accompanied at a meeting... 9 Sickness absence triggers... 9 Hold a Stage 1 sickness absence meeting Hold a Stage 2 sickness absence meeting Hold a Stage 3 final sickness absence meeting Provide employees with an opportunity to appeal April 2013 V1.0 Page 2 of 12

3 POLICY OVERVIEW Sickness Absence Policy Purpose Sickness absence can vary from short intermittent periods of ill-health to a continuous period of long-term absence and have a number of different causes (for example, injuries, recurring conditions, or a serious illness requiring lengthy treatment). This Sickness Absence Policy sets out our procedures for reporting sickness absence and for the management of sickness absence in a fair and consistent way. We wish to ensure that the reasons for sickness absence are understood in each case and investigated where necessary. In addition, where needed and reasonably practicable, measures will be taken to assist those who have been absent by reason of sickness to return to work. Who this Policy applies to The policy applies to all staff that are employees of the organisation in either a permanent, fixed term or temporary post with the exception of Bank and agency staff. Key Principles Regular, punctual attendance is an implied term of every employee s contract of employment and we ask each employee to take responsibility for maintaining good attendance and reporting absence. Employees and employers should adhere to the sickness absence meeting procedures at every stage of a sickness process. Clear absence triggers are defined to ensure that all employees are aware of how repeated absence will result in possible progression through the three stages of the sickness policy. Legal Considerations The ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures sets out principles for handling disciplinary and grievance situations in the workplace. Employment tribunals are legally required to take the Code into account when considering relevant cases. Most of the provisions governing unfair dismissal are to be found in the Employment Rights Act 1996 as amended. Numerous other pieces of legislation cross refer to unfair dismissal issues. The management of employees who become disabled as a result of sickness may mean employers have to make reasonable adjustments as dictated by the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010 before they can return to their job. April 2013 V1.0 Page 3 of 12

4 SUPPORTING PRINCIPLES Sickness Absence Policy Employers and employees should act consistently. Regular, punctual attendance is an implied term of every employee s contract of employment and we ask each employee to take responsibility for maintaining good attendance and reporting absence according to the procedures set out in this policy. Employers should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal meetings. To ensure that short and long term illness is dealt with in accordance with relevant legislation and the ACAS Code of Practice. Levels of sickness absence will be monitored for all employees. Employers aim to ensure that the reasons for sickness absence are understood in each case and investigated where necessary. In addition, where needed and reasonably practicable, measures will be taken to assist those who have been absent by reason of sickness to return to work. Any action which can be taken to improve working conditions and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of employees will be identified. To work with employees to identify any practical solutions in order to reduce absence levels. To support employees with genuine grounds for absence for whatever reason. To treat sickness absence as a result of a disability in line with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act Employers should allow an employee to appeal against any formal decision made. April 2013 V1.0 Page 4 of 12

5 THE POLICY Sickness Absence Policy Employees with disabilities We are aware that sickness absence may result from a disability. At each stage of the sickness absence meetings procedure set out in this policy, particular consideration will be given to whether there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to the requirements of a job or other aspects of working arrangements that will provide support at work and/or assist a return to work. Cases will be treated sensitively and sickness absence triggers will not be applied if inappropriate. If an employee considers that they are affected by a disability or any medical condition which affects their ability to undertake their work, they should inform their line manager. Using Occupational Health services We may, at any time in operating this policy, ask an employee to consent to a medical examination by our Occupational Health Department and/or a doctor nominated by us. The employee will be asked to agree that any report produced in connection with any such examination may be disclosed to us and that we may discuss the contents of the report with our advisers and the relevant doctor. The role of the Occupational Health Service/doctor is to assist with: Establishing the reason for absence, whether any illness is genuine and whether there is an underlying medical condition. Indicate the likely length of continued absence. Assess the effect of an illness on an individual s ability to do their job, what they are capable of and what, if any, adjustment can be made to help them return to work. Assist in arranging a phased return to work from long term sickness absence. Engage in case conferences between employee s and their manager, where necessary. Prior to a sickness absence meeting with an employee and their line manager the employee may be required to attend the Occupational Health department for a medical assessment. However an Occupational Health referral may not be appropriate in every case or before moving to the formal stage in the process. If an employee is taken ill at work If an employee is taken ill or injured while at work they should notify their manager immediately. Managers should where appropriate, make arrangements for anyone who is unwell to be accompanied home and/or to receive medical treatment where necessary. April 2013 V1.0 Page 5 of 12

6 If an absence is due to a work related accident, incident, disease or dangerous occurrence employees are required to advise their manager. The manager will ensure that accident/incident reports are completed as appropriate. If an employee cannot attend work due to illness If an employee cannot attend work because they are ill or injured they should normally telephone their line manager as early as possible and by no later than 15 minutes before their shift commences. The following details should be provided: The nature of their illness or injury The expected length of their absence from work Contact details Any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention Managers should ensure that: Any sickness absence that is notified to them is recorded and updated on the relevant payroll forms. Arrangements are made, where necessary, to cover work and to inform colleagues and clients (while maintaining confidentiality). Employees should expect to be contacted on the first day of their absence by their line manager who will provide advice and help where appropriate to facilitate your recovery. Employees will be asked for their expected return date and the line manager will make regular contact with the employee if their absence is for a period of more than 24 hours. If the employee is ill or injured during a period of pre-arranged annual leave it is permissible to treat the days of incapacity as sickness absence instead of annual leave, subject to the employee providing a medical certificate which covers the full period of sickness at their own expense. It is only on receipt of a valid medical certificate for the full period of incapacity that they will receive payment of occupational sick pay. Providing evidence of incapacity For sickness absence of any period of up to seven calendar days employees must complete a self-certification form which is available from your line manager. For absence of more than a week employees must obtain a certificate from their doctor (a "Statement of Fitness for Work") stating that they are not fit for work and the reason(s) why. This should be forwarded to the line manager as soon as possible. If absence continues, further medical certificates must be provided to cover the whole period of absence. If the employee s doctor provides a certificate stating that they "may be fit for work" they should inform their line manager who will discuss with them any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate their return to work, taking account of the doctor's advice. This may take place at a return to work interview. If appropriate measures cannot be taken, you will remain on sick leave and a date will be set to review the situation. April 2013 V1.0 Page 6 of 12

7 Where we are concerned about the reason for absence, or frequent short-term absence, we may require a medical certificate for each absence regardless of duration. In such circumstances, you will be required to cover any costs incurred in obtaining such medical certificates, for absences of a week or less, on production of a doctor's invoice. If an employee s absence is unauthorised Cases of unauthorised absence will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure. Absence that has not been notified according to the sickness absence reporting procedures will be treated as unauthorised and unpaid absence. If an employee does not report for work and has not telephoned their line manager to explain the reason for their absence, their line manager will try to contact them by telephone and in writing if necessary. This should not be treated as a substitute for reporting sickness absence. Sick pay entitlements Employees should refer to their contract for details of the sick pay to which they are entitled. If a period of sickness absence is or appears to be occasioned by actionable negligence, nuisance or breach of any statutory duty on the part of a third party, in respect of which damages are or may be recoverable, employees must immediately notify their line manager of that fact and of any claim, compromise, settlement or judgment made or awarded in connection with it and all relevant particulars that we may reasonably require. If we require you to do so, you must cooperate in any related legal proceedings and refund to us that part of any damages or compensation you recover that relates to lost earnings for the period of sickness absence as we may reasonably determine, less any costs you incurred in connection with the recovery of such damages or compensation, provided that the amount to be refunded to us shall not exceed the total amount we paid to you in respect of the period of sickness absence. Keeping in contact during sickness absence If an employee is absent on sick leave they should expect to be contacted from time to time by their line manager in order to discuss their wellbeing, expected length of continued absence from work and any of their work that requires attention. Such contact is intended to provide reassurance and will be kept to a reasonable minimum. If employees have any concerns while absent on sick leave, whether about the reason for their absence or their ability to return to work, they should feel free to contact their line manager at any time. Hold a return-to-work interview with the employee If an employee has been absent on sick leave, after every period of absence the line manager will arrange for them to have a return-to-work interview. A return-to-work April 2013 V1.0 Page 7 of 12

8 interview enables the line manager to confirm the details of the employee s absence. It also gives the employee the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions they may have, and to bring to attention any relevant matters. Where a doctor has provided a certificate stating that the employee "may be fit for work" their line manager will usually hold a return-to-work interview to discuss any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate their return to work, taking account of their doctor's advice. At the return to work interview the line manager will advise if the employee is at risk of triggering the formal sickness absence triggers. Once the Sickness Absence Triggers are met, the formal sickness absence process will be followed. The line manager will document the detail of this meeting in a file note, and provide the employee with a copy of the note. Returning to work from long-term sickness absence We are committed to helping members of staff return to work from long-term sickness absence. As part of our sickness absence meetings procedure we will, where appropriate and possible, support returns to work by: Obtaining medical advice Making reasonable adjustments to the workplace, working practices and working hours Considering redeployment; and/or Agreeing a return to work programme with everyone affected If an employee is unable to return to work from long-term sickness absence and where they are a member of the NHS Pension Scheme, we will discuss with them whether they are entitled to make an application for ill-health early retirement or any temporary/permanent injury allowance. The decision as to whether they are entitled to these benefits is taken by the NHS Pensions Agency. Sickness absence meetings procedure We will apply this procedure when: the Sickness Absence Triggers have been reached; and/or employees have discussed matters at a return to work interview that require investigation Unless it is impractical to do so, employees will be given 5 days written notice of the date, time and place of a sickness absence meeting. Any concerns about sickness absence and the basis for those concerns will be put in writing or otherwise advise why the meeting is being called. A reasonable opportunity for this information to be considered before a meeting will be provided. The meeting will be conducted by the employee s line manager and the employee may bring a companion with them to the meeting. April 2013 V1.0 Page 8 of 12

9 Employees must take all reasonable steps to attend a meeting. Failure to do so without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If they or their companion are unable to attend at the time specified they should immediately inform their line manager who will seek to agree an alternative time. A meeting may be adjourned if the line manager is awaiting receipt of information, needs to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at a previous meeting. Employees will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the meeting is reconvened. Confirmation of any decision made at a meeting, the reasons for it, and of the right of appeal will be given in writing within 5 days of a sickness absence meeting (unless this time scale is not practicable, in which case it will be provided as soon as is practicable). If, at any time, the line manager considers that an employee has taken or is taking sickness absence when they are not unwell, they may refer matters to be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure. Allow the employee to be accompanied at a meeting This policy gives workers the right to be accompanied by a companion at each stage of the process. The chosen companion may be a fellow worker, a trade union representative, or an official employed by a trade union. A trade union representative who is not an employed official must have been certified by their union as being competent to accompany a worker. Employees must make a reasonable request to be accompanied and what is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. However, it would not normally be reasonable for workers to insist on being accompanied by a companion whose presence would prejudice the hearing nor would it be reasonable for a worker to ask to be accompanied by a companion from a remote geographical location if someone suitable and willing was available on site. Nor would it be reasonable for the worker to delay proceedings because their chosen companion was not available within a reasonable time scale (usually within 5 days of the original meeting). The companion should be allowed to address the meeting, to put and sum up the worker s case, respond on behalf of the worker to any views expressed at the meeting and confer with the worker during the meeting. The companion does not, however, have the right to answer questions on the worker s behalf, address the meeting if the worker does not wish it or prevent the employer from explaining their case. Sickness absence triggers The following periods of sickness absence in a rolling 12 month period will trigger the formal sickness absence procedure as set out below: Any period of absence amounting to 8 days or more; or April 2013 V1.0 Page 9 of 12

10 3 individual episodes of sickness Pro rata for part time staff The focus of this policy is maintaining acceptable levels of attendance. If, over a 3 year period an employee has a consistently high level of sickness absence, which is just below the periods which trigger formal action as set out above, we reserves the right to initiate the Stage 1 procedure set out below. Hold a Stage 1 sickness absence meeting Stage 1 will be invoked where the sickness absence triggers as set out above have been met and will follow the procedures set out in this policy on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings. The purposes of a first sickness absence meeting may include: Discussing the reasons for absence Where an employee is on long-term sickness absence, determining how long the absence is likely to last Where an employee has been absent on a number of occasions, determining the likelihood of further absences Considering whether medical advice is required and whether there is an underlying medical condition Considering what, if any measures might improve an employee s health and/or attendance Agreeing a way forward, which can include alternative duties; action that will be taken and a time-scale for review and/or a further meeting under the sickness absence procedure Details of the meeting and any agreed outcomes will be confirmed in writing and a copy will be held on the employee s personal file. One outcome of the review meeting is that the employee may be issued with a first written warning for unsatisfactory attendance and advised that their attendance is expected to improve. Managers must continually monitor absence and, if there is a further period of sickness absence which triggers the sickness absence policy, the employee will move to Stage 2. Hold a Stage 2 sickness absence meeting If further periods of absence trigger the policy as set out above, a Stage 2 review will be conducted. Arrangements for meetings under the second stage of the sickness absence procedure will follow the procedure set out in this policy on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings. The purposes of further meeting(s) may include: April 2013 V1.0 Page 10 of 12

11 Discussing the reasons for and impact of the employees ongoing absence(s) Where an employee is on long-term sickness absence, discussing how long their absence is likely to last Where an employee have been absent on a number of occasions, discussing the likelihood of further absences If it has not been obtained, considering whether medical advice is required. If it has been obtained, considering the advice that has been given and whether further advice is required. Considering an employee s ability to remain in their job in view both of their capabilities and our business needs and any adjustments that can reasonably be made to their job to enable them to do so Considering possible redeployment opportunities and whether any adjustments can reasonably be made to assist in redeploying employees Where an employee is able to return from long-term sick leave, whether to their job or a redeployed job, agreeing a return to work programme Agreeing a way forward, action that will be taken and a time-scale for review and/or a further meeting(s). This may, depending on steps we have already taken, include warning the employee that they are at risk of dismissal Details of the meeting and any agreed outcomes will be confirmed in writing to the employee a copy will be held on their personal file. One outcome of the review meeting is that they may be issued with a written warning (which might be a first or final warning depending on the outcome of Stage 1) for unsatisfactory attendance and advised that their attendance is expected to improve. Where they are issued with a final written warning they will be advised that a failure to improve their attendance may result in their dismissal. Managers will continue to monitor their absence and if they trigger the policy again, they will be required to attend a Stage 3 meeting. Hold a Stage 3 final sickness absence meeting Where an employee has been warned that they are at risk of dismissal, they will be invited to a meeting under the third stage of the sickness absence procedure. Arrangements for this meeting will follow the procedure set out in policy on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings. The purposes of the meeting will be: To review the meetings that have taken place and matters discussed with the employee To consider any further matters that the employee wishes to raise To consider whether there is a reasonable likelihood of the employee achieving the desired level of attendance in a reasonable time To consider the possible termination of their employment If notice of termination is issued, it will be subject to notice or payment in lieu of notice. April 2013 V1.0 Page 11 of 12

12 Provide employees with an opportunity to appeal Where an employee feels that the action taken against them is wrong or unjust they should appeal against the decision. Appeals should be heard without unreasonable delay and ideally at an agreed time and place. Employees should let employers know the grounds for their appeal in writing. The appeal should be dealt with impartially and wherever possible, by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case. Workers have a statutory right to be accompanied at appeal hearings. Employees should be informed in writing of the results of the appeal hearing as soon as possible. Following an appeal the original decision may be confirmed, revoked or replaced with a different decision. The final decision will be confirmed in writing, if possible within 7 days of the appeal meeting. There will be no further right of appeal. The date that any dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of an appeal. However, if the appeal is successful, the decision to dismiss will be revoked with no loss of continuity or pay. April 2013 V1.0 Page 12 of 12

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