Managing Absence Policy and Procedure

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1 Managing Absence Policy and Procedure WHC reserves the right to amend this policy at its discretion. The most up-to-date version can be downloaded from our website. Managing Absence Policy and Procedure ELT manager Responsible officer Director of Finance & Estates HR Manager Date first approved by BoM 3 April 2014 Date first review approved by BoM April 2015 Date second review approved by BoM Next review date Under Review The Board agrees that this policy will come to the Board meeting in October 2017 Equality impact assessment Further information (where relevant) Reviewer Date Review Action/Impact BoM

2 Index Item Page No 1. Policy Statement 3 2. Scope 3 3. Policy Outcomes 3 4. Key Definitions Frequent Short Term Absence Long Term Absence Health Conditions Without Sickness Absence Disability Under The Equality Act Calendar Days West Highland College Continuous Service 3 5. What The Law Says 3 6. Check Which Policy To Use 4 7. Exceptions 5 8. Procedure To Be Followed When Managing Sickness Absence 5 9. Part One Procedure Framework For The Management Of Sickness Absence Reporting Sickness Absence Recording Sickness Absence Statement Of Fitness For Work Keeping In Touch During Sickness Absence Returning To Work Following A Longer Period Of Absence Return To Work Discussions Referral To Occupational Health Temporary Adjustments/Phased Return To Work Permanent Adjustments Adjustments To Support An Employee To Remain At Work Sick Pay Sickness During Annual Leave Annual Leave And Bank Holidays Working Whilst Off Sick Accidents At Work Instructions To Leave Work On Health Grounds Planned Operations Part Two Managing Absence Frequent Short Term Absence Roles & Responsibilities Trigger Point Policy Stages Monitoring Discussion (Informal Stage) Formal Stage Meetings Right Of Appeal Less Than Two Years Continuous Service Part Three Managing Absence Long Term Sickness Absence Roles & Responsibilities Trigger Points Review Stage When To Progress To A Final Case Review Right Of Appeal Against Dismissal Ill Health Retirement Mutual Agreement Less Than Two Years Service Related Documents Support 26 Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 2 of 29 Version 1.0

3 1. Policy Statement West Highland College UHI (the College) is committed to supporting the wellbeing of employees and promoting attendance at work. This policy outlines the framework for managing sickness absence and the steps managers and employees must take to ensure that all staff are treated fair and equitably and that attendance remains at an acceptable standard. 2. Scope This policy applies to all West Highland College employees. 3. Policy Outcomes The aims of the policy are to improve and maintain attendance through early management action manage absence positively define the mechanism for managing unacceptable standards of absence 4. Key Definitions 4.1 Frequent Short Term Absences These are periods of sickness absence that are not continuous and are normally short term. The absences may be for both unrelated and related reasons. The impact of the absence is that an employee is unable to attend work regularly and consistently. 4.2 Long Term Absence This is where an employee is unable to return to work over an extended period (21 calendar days or more on one occasion) due to an underlying medical condition/s. 4.3 Health Conditions Without Sickness Absence These are situations where an employee s underlying medical condition has an impact on their ability to fulfil the full duties of their role (including circumstances where it is not affecting their attendance) are to be managed under the long term absence process. 4.4 Disability Under The Equality Act A person has a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. 4.5 Calendar Days Where reference is made to calendar days, these are defined as Monday to Sunday, excluding Bank Holidays or Public Holidays. This is consistently applied irrespective of an employee's work pattern. 4.6 West Highland College Continuous Service This is the earliest date when an employee began continuous service (no breaks) with West Highland College. 5. What the law says The ACAS Code of Practice on discipline and grievance 2009, issued under section 199 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, sets out the principles for managing sickness absence in the workplace. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 3 of 29 Version 1.0

4 The Code provides the following general principles to deal with managing sickness absence fairly: ensure the employee is informed of the sickness absence concerns address issues within a reasonable timeframe and do not unreasonably delay meetings, decisions or confirmation thereof act consistently carry out any necessary investigations to establish the facts of the case meet with the employee allow employees to be accompanied at any formal meeting decide on appropriate action allow the employee to appeal against any formal decision made Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society and requires equal treatment of individuals regardless of a protected characteristic. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Where an employee meets the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010, the Act requires employers to consider adjustments to working practices and environments and make them where reasonable. This is so that an employee with a disability is not disadvantaged. Pregnancy and maternity are protected characteristics under the Equality Act Therefore a woman should not receive unfavourable treatment in relation to her pregnancy or illness suffered by her as a result of that pregnancy. The management of annual leave during sickness absence is governed by recent case law. Employment case law resulted in the House of Lords' ruling that: a worker can accrue and request to take statutory annual leave during sick leave, and on termination of employment, an employee is entitled to claim for pay in lieu of untaken statutory annual leave In order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal, under section 108 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee must have at least two years continuous employment. There is a specific section in this policy that relates to employees with less than two years continuous College employment. 6. Check which policy to use Failure to report sickness absence or provide a statement of fitness for work (formerly GP certificate) should be addressed using the Disciplinary Policy and may result in withholding Statutory Sick Pay or Occupational Sick Pay. Sickness absence which is found not to be genuine or is an unauthorised absence should be addressed using the Disciplinary Policy. Poor performance due to health problems should be addressed through this policy. Concerns raised by an employee about a decision or action taken when applying the policy will normally be managed through the meeting or appeal meeting set out in this policy. The employee should not raise a separate Grievance. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 4 of 29 Version 1.0

5 7. Exceptions The following should be excluded when managing sickness absence concerns; absence due to pregnancy related illness compassionate leave time off for dependents 8. Procedure to be followed when managing sickness absence Part One Procedure Framework for the management of sickness absence To be used for all sickness absence Part Two Managing Absence Frequent short term absence To be used as appropriate Part Three Managing Absence Long term sickness absence To be used as appropriate Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 5 of 29 Version 1.0

6 9. Part One Procedure Framework For The Management Of Sickness Absence The College recognises that there will be times when employees are unable to attend work due to sickness. The following section outlines an employee s responsibility to manage their own absence as well as your responsibilities to manage the absences of your team effectively and consistently. This part of the document is not part of the formal policy. Instead it provides additional information to help management with the practical day to day application of the policy. 9.1 Reporting Sickness Absence An employee who is sick whilst at work must report this to their manager immediately in person. An employee who is sick and unable to attend work must contact their line manager via telephone, at least one hour prior to their start time. If they are unable to contact their line manager they should contact HR. The manager/hr will agree with the employee whether continuing sickness absence will be reported on a daily basis or whether the employee is to re-contact them in a specified number of days time. During a period of longer sickness absence, the manager will agree with the employee how frequently they want them to keep in touch depending upon the nature and duration of the illness. This is likely to be around the dates of their Statement of Fitness for Work being reissued and/or the review meetings. Keeping in touch can be via telephone workplace / alternative workplace visits home visits 9.2 Recording Sickness Absence The manager is responsible for recording all periods of sickness absence on CASCADE. This will be supported by HR by running monthly absence reports for each manager. Where an employee leaves work early due to sickness having worked over half the shift/ working day - this will be recorded as a half day s sickness absence less than half the shift/ working day - this will be recorded as a full day s sickness absence The manager is responsible for ensuring an employee s sickness absence record is correct on CASCADE and frequently updated to ensure sickness payments are correct. In most cases of short term absence it is likely that the actual dates of absence are known and these can be entered onto CASCADE. If the end date of the absence is not known, it should be entered on to CASCADE as open ended to avoid having to enter multiple fit notes. When the employee returns to work, update the record with the actual date as soon as possible. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 6 of 29 Version 1.0

7 All long term absence should be recorded as open ended to ensure that sickness payments are correct and to avoid having to update the record each time a new Statement of Fitness for Work is received. When the employee returns to work, the record should be updated with the actual date immediately. 9.3 Statement Of Fitness For Work Absence of 7 calendar days or less employees can self-certify using the self-certification form (appendix 1) Absence of 8 calendar days or more employees are required to provide a Statement of Fitness for Work. Employees who fail to provide a Statement of Fitness for Work or fail to provide it in a timely manner may lose sick pay and may be disciplined. An employee is responsible for providing their manager with a Statement of Fitness for Work in a timely manner. The manager should retain a copy for the personnel file and give the original back to the employee for their own records. The statement will indicate whether an employee is: not fit for work for a specified period fit for work subject to one or more of the following adjustments o phased return o altered hours o amended duties and/or o workplace adaptations The Statement of Fitness for Work is not binding on employers and therefore the manager is responsible for considering whether adjustments can or cannot be made. This should be done by: discussing the advice on the statement with the employee and possible options available considering how it affects the job and the workplace considering the functional comments, any of the return to work box ticks and any other action(s) that could help the employee return to work risk assess, monitor and review as agreed seeking further advice from Occupation Health as required (via a referral or simple telephone call) If the decision is that the adjustments can be made and a return to work is possible, this forms part of the phased return to work plan. However, if it is decided that the adjustments cannot be made, the manager must explain to the employee the reasons for the decision and clarify that they are therefore unfit for work for the duration of the current statement. The employee will not need to obtain an alternative statement. They will simply continue to be unfit for work until the adjustments are no longer required. They may need to obtain further statements in due course, as appropriate. An employee does not need a statement to say they are fit to return to work. However, the doctor can indicate whether they wish to see the employee again. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 7 of 29 Version 1.0

8 9.4 Keeping In Touch During Sickness Absence Employees are required to engage in and maintain regular contact with their manager. How often can be mutually agreed between the employee and their manager when the employee first reports their absence. In cases of absence due to certificated stress HR advice should sought. 9.5 Returning To Work Following A Longer Period Of Absence Once fit to return, employees must discuss their return to work with their manager to enable adequate return arrangements to be made. In situations of long term absence, employees who do not provide a minimum of 5 working days notice of their return can be instructed by their manager to use annual leave whilst arrangements for their return are put in place. 9.6 Return To Work Discussions Return to work discussions are proven to be one of the most effective interventions in managing sickness absence. The manager is responsible for undertaking a return to work discussion upon an employee s return. The employee does not have a statutory right to be accompanied at a return to work discussion. The length and detail of the discussion should be proportionate to the reasons and length of absence. The manager should meet or make contact with the employee upon their return to work. This is an opportunity to check they are fit to return, update them on any work aspects and discuss the impact of their absence on their work. If appropriate the manager should complete a return to work form to record the discussion and pass to HR for inclusion on their personnel file. 9.7 Referral To Occupational Health A referral to Occupational Health (OH) can be made where there is a concern about an employee s health and/or sickness absence levels. An employee is required to attend Occupational Health appointments and to co-operate with the referral. The purpose of a referral is so that Occupational Health can provide medical opinion and advice to assist in the overall management of an employee s attendance. Occupational Health may make recommendations about how to support an employee back to work or to remain at work. The manager is responsible for deciding whether those recommendations or alternative action/s can be put in place. Short term frequent absence is often due to unrelated ad-hoc illness and therefore a referral is not always necessary during the early management of absence concerns. If, however, there are concerns of an underlying condition, the absences are for the same illness or if the manager is moving into the later stages of formal management, then they may wish to seek OH advice to inform any decision making. Longer-term absences are far more likely to benefit from a referral to OH than short term absence. Stress, depression and muscular-skeletal injuries especially benefit from early intervention. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 8 of 29 Version 1.0

9 Once the long-term trigger is the manager must consider whether a referral is appropriate. It is likely to be of value where the return to work date is unknown. An employee who is absent due to a planned operation may not need to be referred to OH where it is anticipated they will be able to return to their role without significant difficulties. Where there are longer-term implications, a likelihood of requiring temporary or permanent adjustments or any complications during recovery, a referral is recommended. The manager should meet with the employee to discuss the reasons for the referral and the process. The referral is made via a form. The employee should be told that they are expected to attend OH appointments. 9.8 Temporary Adjustments/Phased Return To Work A phased return to work is where an employee remains unfit unless temporary adjustments to their role can be made to allow an earlier return to work than would otherwise be possible. The manager is responsible for deciding whether adjustments can be accommodated. A phased return will last for a maximum of 4 weeks. During this time normal contractual pay arrangements will apply. If a phased return to work cannot be accommodated, the employee will remain on sickness absence until they are fully fit and adjustments are no longer required. Alternatively the employee may asked to take annual leave for some or all of this period by the line manager or can chose to take annual leave to support their return to work. Adjustments may relate to contractual hours, working patterns, the working environment or duties of the role (sometimes known as restricted duties). Temporary adjustments may be identified between the manager and the employee or by OH. Permanent adjustments should be supported by OH advice. Either way, the manager is responsible for deciding what adjustments can be accommodated. In making this decision the manager may want to consider whether the employee is likely to have a disability. A person has a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. It is more likely that a temporary (as opposed to permanent) adjustment may be needed in relation to short term absence. The manager should capture any temporary adjustments as part of a phased return to work plan which lasts for a maximum of 4 weeks. Any extension beyond this should only be in exceptional circumstances and supported by OH advice. During an extended adjustment the employee s pay will normally be reduced to reflect the adjustment in hours. 9.9 Permanent Adjustments Where Occupational Health advise a permanent adjustment, the manager must consider whether the employee s condition is likely to meet the definition of disability: if the condition is likely to, the manager has a legal obligation to consider making reasonable adjustments. Not all adjustments will be reasonable. if the condition is unlikely to, there is no legal obligation. However, the manager may wish to put adjustments in place where possible. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 9 of 29 Version 1.0

10 Long-term absence is more likely to be covered by the Equality Act 2010 and therefore there may be a legal requirement to consider reasonable adjustments. A person has a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Adjustments may relate to contractual hours, working patterns, the working environment or duties of the role (sometimes known as restricted duties). Some adjustments, such as a change of hours or working pattern, may mean an employee s contract may need to be changed. If the adjustment cannot be accommodated, this will be managed under the final case review. Permanent adjustments may need to be reviewed at a later stage depending upon business need Adjustments To Support An Employee To Remain At Work Adjustments can also be considered in order to support an employee to remain at work and avoid sickness absence. This may be appropriate where an employee has recently developed a medical condition or an existing condition has worsened. Temporary adjustments may be identified between the manager and the employee or by OH. Permanent adjustments should be supported by OH advice. Either way, the manager is responsible for deciding what adjustments can be accommodated. The manager should capture any temporary adjustments as part of a phased return to work plan which lasts for a maximum of 4 weeks. Any extension beyond this should be supported by OH advice and only be in exceptional circumstances. During an extension the employee s pay will be reduced to reflect any adjustment in hours Sick Pay Details of sick pay entitlements are contained within the employee s terms and conditions of employment Sickness During Annual Leave An employee, who is sick during a period of annual leave can have their leave reinstated when covered by a Statement of Fitness for Work Annual Leave And Bank Holidays Statutory annual leave and bank holidays accrue during sickness absence, including during periods of half or nil pay and the employee must have the opportunity to use this annual leave. The accrual and carrying forward of annual leave is less likely to be an issue in relation to short term absence as it is not likely to build up. Therefore, the carrying forward of leave is usually preventable. The manager must discuss the booking and taking of leave with all employees, especially those with high sickness absence. An employee can substitute a period of sickness absence for paid annual leave and / or carry unused annual leave forward into the next leave year. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 10 of 29 Version 1.0

11 Unused annual leave due to sickness absence will be lost where it is not used within the year in which it is accrued (where possible) or within the following leave year and always after 15 months of the employee s return to work. The application of these principles will vary depending upon the different contractual arrangements in place Working Whilst Off Sick There may be situations where an employee has more than one role / employment and due to the difference in nature of the two roles, is off sick from one whilst still being able to work in the other. However, where an employee is off sick from a role, it is not acceptable for them to work in a second role, either for the College or for another employer, during the normal working hours of the first role. Employees must not work during the normal working hours of the role from which they are signed off sick. If appropriate the manager should manage any concerns of this nature via the disciplinary policy Accidents At Work Employees who injure themselves as part of their duties must report this to their manager immediately and fill out the relevant paperwork (e.g. accident reporting book). Certain absences resulting from an accident or incident at work must be reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). The Health & Safety Department must also be notified and the relevant procedures must be followed. Pregnancy related absence Pregnancy related sickness absence (occurring within the duration of an employee s pregnancy) will be: recorded on CASCADE as sickness absence noting it as pregnancy related illness paid according to the employee s sick pay entitlement excluded when reviewing the employees attendance record The employee is responsible for reporting pregnancy related absence and obtaining a Statement of Fitness for Work in the normal way. Pregnancy related sickness absence occurring during the last four weeks before the expected week of childbirth will automatically trigger maternity leave Instruction To Leave Work On Health Grounds A manager may instruct an employee to leave work where they believe an employee is unwell or has a condition which causes concern and presents a risk to the employee and/or others. The employee must see their GP as soon as possible. Where the GP issues a Statement of Fitness for Work, this will be recorded and paid as sickness absence. Where a GP does not issue a Statement of Fitness for Work, the employee will receive full pay for the duration of the instruction to remain at home Planned Operations Employees are responsible for notifying their manager in advance of a planned operation. Employees are responsible for requesting that planned operations are scheduled in nonworking time (e.g. term time only employees) or quieter work periods where possible. Employees must give the reason for the absence, the anticipated duration, the predicted recovery period and any possible changes in their ability to undertake their role upon their return. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 11 of 29 Version 1.0

12 10. Part Two Managing Absence Frequent Short Term Absence High levels of frequent short term absence make it difficult to run a service effectively and efficiently. This section provides the procedure through which such absence will be managed. It is hoped that using the procedure will lead to improvements in attendance but where this does not happen the employee may be dismissed on the grounds of medical capability Roles & Responsibilities As the manager you are responsible for: adopting a pro-active approach to wellbeing to prevent sickness absence amongst your employees recording and reviewing sickness absence records on a regular basis identifying concerns and deciding on appropriate action applying the Managing Sickness Absence Policy accurately and consistently tracking and progressing management of frequent short term sickness through case management informing HR when progressing to stage two of the policy considering adjustments and deciding whether to implement them where reasonable to do so maintaining confidentiality arranging meetings as necessary drafting and issuing of letters, reports and documentation with HR support as necessary All employees are responsible for: adopting a pro-active approach to their individual wellbeing to prevent sickness absence attending work unless unfit to do so seeking to improve their attendance applying the Managing Sickness Absence Policy accurately engaging and co-operating with the process, including referrals to Occupational Health The HR person who is supporting the manager is responsible for: advising on policy application supporting with case management advising on the completion of letters, reports and relevant documentation attending meetings in an advisory capacity HR does not perform a decision making role Occupational Health are responsible for: receiving referrals from management and reviewing employees requesting medical information making recommendations in line with the needs of the service The trade union representative or West Highland College work colleague is responsible for: supporting their member/ colleague attending meetings or ensuring meetings are covered and not delayed Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 12 of 29 Version 1.0

13 They may make representations, submit papers, ask questions and address a meeting on behalf of the employee. They may not answer questions on behalf of the employee Trigger Point The frequent short term absence trigger points are: 6 working days/shifts over two or more occasions in the previous 12 month period*. whenever the level, frequency or pattern of absence causes a concern due to operational impact. *the previous 12 month period is calculated from the first day of the current absence. When a trigger point is met, the manager must decide whether to: continue to monitor the absence record or progress into the stages of the policy The manager must review the absence record and decide on an appropriate course of action within 14 calendar days of the trigger point being met. The manager must be able to evidence this decision. When reviewing the record the manager should consider the following: patterns of absence whether it is a discrete, isolated event or do they have concerns of frequent absence which has a negative impact on the service / workload discussions taken place during return to work interviews whether informal or formal absence management has already started absences that may be work related manager s discretion for example in the case of planned operations, courses of treatment and underlying chronic illness conditions covered by the Equality Act 2010 excluding absence due to pregnancy related illness or authorised absence such as compassionate leave, time off for dependents Course of action: no current concern the manager should continue monitoring absence is at a concerning level the manger should arrange a monitoring discussion absence is sufficiently serious to move straight to formal stage one a warning has already been issued the manager should consider progressing to the next stage 10.3 Policy Stages There are five possible stages: Monitoring discussion/informal stage Formal stage one Formal stage two Formal stage three may result in dismissal Appeal There is a shortened procedure for employees with less than two years service. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 13 of 29 Version 1.0

14 10.4 Monitoring Discussion (Informal Stage) The manager must hold a monitoring discussion with the employee to inform them that their absence is causing concern and improvement is required. The employee has no statutory right to be accompanied at the informal meeting, however, a request to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative, or College work colleague may be considered in exceptional circumstances. How to run a monitoring discussion The chair of the meeting must set out the nature of the attendance concern ask the employee to explain their reason for absence/s and if they are receiving any medical treatment establish what the employee has done to address the issue ask the employee whether there is any support, training or reasonable adjustments that might help them decide on an outcome Possible outcomes of a monitoring discussion the employee is given an explanation of why their current absence level is a cause for concern the employee is told how their attendance needs to improve and this may include the setting of an attendance target (a timescale is set within which an improvement needs to take place and a review meeting scheduled) a referral is made to OH support or training is agreed a clear statement is made that a failure to improve may lead to formal action in line with this procedure The Record of Informal Discussion form should be used to keep a summary of the discussion. Working with the employee, it may be helpful to draft an action plan, which reflects the key outcomes from the discussion and associated timescales. The record should be shared with the employee and a copy kept on their personnel file. How to progress from a monitoring discussion to the formal stage If the manager is not satisfied that an employee s attendance has met the standard required following a monitoring discussion, or if an initial improvement is not sustained, this should be progressed to the formal stage. There may be circumstances in which the manager feels the employee s absence is sufficiently serious to progress straight to the formal stages without an informal meeting taking place Formal Stage Meetings The manager must hold a formal meeting with the employee at each formal stage of the policy. The manager will write to the employee to invite them to a formal meeting. The manager and employee are required to exchange details of any significant issues and relevant papers in advance of the meeting. Management documents will normally be supplied with the invitation letter. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 14 of 29 Version 1.0

15 Dependent upon the nature and complexity of the absence concern, the manager may produce a management report. The employee, or their companion, must submit their information to arrive at least 3 calendar days before a meeting. The employee has a statutory right to be accompanied at a formal meeting by a trade union representative or a West Highland College UHI colleague. How to invite an employee to a formal stage meeting The manager must write to the employee to invite them to a formal meeting. The letter must give a minimum of 7 calendar days notice of the meeting. The template letter should be used to ensure all the necessary information is included. If the manager is progressing to a stage two meeting they must contact HR if they have not already done so. Right to be accompanied The employee has the right upon reasonable request; to be accompanied at a formal meeting or appeal meeting by a trade union representative or a College work colleague. It is the employee s responsibility to arrange their own companion and advise management of this. Alternative date for hearing If the employee or their companion is unable to attend a formal meeting, an alternative date avoiding unreasonable delay will be arranged, once only, as close to the original meeting date as possible, providing 3 calendar days notice. If the employee is unable to attend or fails to attend the re-arranged meeting, this will normally go ahead in the employee s absence. Who chairs the formal meeting Stage Chair Adviser to Chair Stage one Employee s line HR Officer/HR Manager manager Stage two Employee s line HR Officer/HR Manager manager or other manager Stage three/less than two years service SMT member HR Officer/HR Manager Other meeting attendees: employee and their representative where the manager is not the chair of the meeting, they will attend to present the absence concerns and actions taken to date What information should be shared Management and the employee are expected to provide details of any significant issues and relevant papers in advance of the meeting. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 15 of 29 Version 1.0

16 A simple record of the absences and notes of previous discussion may be all that is required during the early stages of the process. Alternatively a template management report is available to help compile the relevant information if necessary in more complex cases and at stage three. The length and detail of this report will be proportionate to the absence concern and the stage in the procedure. The record or report will normally be supplied with the invitation letter. The employee, or their companion, must submit their information to arrive at least 3 calendar days before a meeting. Management must provide the employee with two copies of any documents that will be used in advance of the meeting, one for them and one for their companion. How to run a formal meeting The chair of the meeting must: identify the sickness absence concerns and discuss the measures put in place during any previous stage of the procedure, referring to any documents or evidence or ask the manager to do so ask the employee to respond, referring to any documents or evidence all parties may ask questions adjourn the meeting, if necessary, to consider the evidence and decide on the outcome keep a written record of the meeting inform the employee of the decision Outcome of a formal meeting The chair of the meeting will decide how the attendance concerns will be managed: no formal action is required - but the required improvement and/or alternative action is stated OR a written warning is issued o Stage one: first written warning 12 months o Stage two: final written warning months o A previous warning is extended The length of the warning will depend on the nature of the absence, if there is a belief that the absence may recur and whether a warning at the same stage has previously been issued. The following should be discussed with the employee in order to support them to achieve an improvement: the improvement in attendance required, any attendance targets and the associated timescale within which this should be achieved any other actions for the employee e.g. following the correct reporting procedure or pro-active steps to improve their health and well-being and the timescales within which these should be achieved any additional support or training to help the employee achieve the attendance standards required schedule dates for review meetings whether a referral to OH is appropriate whether any reasonable adjustments need to be considered whether redeployment opportunities will be explored for medical re-deployees where OH has advised that the employee is not capable of continuing in their current role Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 16 of 29 Version 1.0

17 confirmation that the employee has the right of appeal against the outcome Working with the employee, it may be helpful to draft an action plan which reflects the key outcomes from the meeting and associated timescales. The record of this should be shared with the employee and a copy kept on the employee s personnel file. If receiving a written warning that their attendance must improve, the warning will be kept on their personnel file for a specified number of months. At a stage three meeting the employee may be dismissed on the grounds of medical capability with contractual notice. Redeployment may be considered where there are medical grounds to do so. The manager must advise the employee of the outcome and their right of appeal at the meeting and confirm this in writing. Possible Outcomes Of A Stage 3 Formal Meeting The chair of the meeting will decide whether; no formal action is required - but improvement required and/or alternative action is stated OR the previous stage 2 written warning is extended OR dismissal on the grounds of medical capability with contractual notice is appropriate dismissal on the grounds of medical capability with contractual notice and consideration of redeployment is appropriate Where the decision is not dismissal, the employee will be supported to achieve an improvement as per the list above. How to confirm the decision The chair of the meeting must send a letter to the employee to confirm the outcome. They should use the template letter to ensure it includes all the necessary information. The letter will be sent ideally on the same day as the meeting but if not within 3 calendar days and a copy placed on the employee s personnel file. Review Meetings Following the issuing of a warning, the manager must hold frequent review meetings with the employee. The employee has no statutory right to be accompanied at these review meetings. Initially these should be every 4 weeks however the manager may wish to decrease the frequency where an improvement is being sustained. These meetings enable management to monitor progress and provide feedback to the employee. The review meetings should be used to establish whether there is a need to progress to the next formal stage. How To Progress Through The Formal Stages Progression through the formal stages will normally occur where absence continues to be a concern whilst a written warning remains active. The manager does not have to wait until the end of the action plan timescale if there are concerns early on which mean the plan will not be achieved. However, where there is a history and pattern of absence over a prolonged period of time which continues to give cause for concern, despite there not being an active warning, there may be grounds upon which to move to any stage of the procedure. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 17 of 29 Version 1.0

18 A history of absence may be identified by a record of multiple previous written warnings and / or where there is evidence to show the employee is unable to sustain regular and committed attendance Right Of Appeal The employee has a right to appeal any formal outcome of the Managing Sickness Absence Policy. The employee must have specific grounds for making an appeal and they must identify supporting evidence. An employee must ensure their written appeal is received by the manager within 7 calendar days from their receipt of the outcome letter. The full reasons for the appeal must be given along with any supporting evidence. If the grounds for the appeal are unclear, the manager should ask the employee to clarify the specific reasons and evidence. How to invite an employee to an appeal meeting The manager must write to the employee to invite them to a formal meeting. The letter must give a minimum of 7 calendar days notice of the meeting. A template letter should be used to ensure all the necessary information is included. The employee has the right to be accompanied. An alternative date will be arranged in line with provisions set out in the alternative date section of this policy. Stage Chair Adviser to the Chair Appeal against a One senior HR Officer/HR Manager formal warning managers Appeal against dismissal Two senior managers HR Officer/HR Manager How to invite an employee to an appeal meeting The chair of the meeting will write to the employee to invite them to an appeal meeting. The employee has a statutory right to be accompanied at a formal meeting by a trade union representative or a College work colleague. The manager and employee are expected to provide details of any significant issues and relevant papers in advance of the meeting. Management documents will normally be supplied with the invitation letter. The employee, or their companion, must submit their information to arrive at least 3 calendar days before a meeting. How to run an appeal meeting The chair of the meeting will: ask the employee or their companion to present their appeal referring to any documents or evidence ask management to respond to the appeal and present the grounds upon which previous decisions have been made, referring to any documents or evidence invite questions from all parties adjourn, if necessary, to consider the evidence and decide on the outcome let the employee know the outcome at the end of the meeting Outcome of an appeal meeting The chair of the meeting will decide whether Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 18 of 29 Version 1.0

19 the appeal is not upheld and the previous decision remains the appeal is upheld and an alternative outcome is decided If the employee is reinstated on appeal after a previous dismissal, the employee s service will be continuous and any loss of pay between dismissal and reinstatement will be paid. The chair of the meeting must advise the employee of the outcome and confirm this in writing. How to confirm an appeal decision The chair of the meeting must send a letter to the employee to confirm the outcome. A template letter should be used to ensure all the necessary information is included. The letter will be sent ideally on the same day as the meeting but if not within 3 calendar days, and a copy placed on their personnel file Less Than Two Years Continuous Service There are three possible stages: Monitoring discussion Formal stage Appeal The line manager will raise a sickness absence concern promptly and via a monitoring discussion with the employee. A formal meeting will take place when the manager identifies that an employee s attendance does not meet the standard required following a monitoring discussion. The same principles for the formal stage meeting apply as before. The chair of the meeting will decide how the attendance concern will be managed. The employee may receive a written warning that their attendance must improve. The warning will be kept on their personnel file for a specified number of months. If there is no improvement or an improvement is not sustained following a formal warning being issued, a further formal meeting will need to be held to consider dismissal. When an employee moves into their third year of service, the full procedure will need to be applied and this warning will count as a stage one warning. The employee may be dismissed on the grounds of medical capability with contractual notice. An employee only has the right to appeal against a dismissal decision, not against a warning. The same principles apply in the right of appeal section. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 19 of 29 Version 1.0

20 11. Part Three Managing Absence Long Term Sickness Absence Long term sickness absence requires supportive and sensitive management balanced with the need to deliver services. This section provides the procedure through which such absence will be managed. It is hoped that using the procedure will support employees to return to work / remain in work. Where the employee is too unwell to return or the impact on their performance is unsustainable, a decision regarding the employee s future employment will be made. This part of the document is not part of the formal policy. Instead it provides additional information to help management with the practical day-to-day application of the policy Roles & Responsibilities Managers are responsible for: adopting a pro-active approach to wellbeing to prevent sickness absence amongst your employees recording and reviewing sickness absence records and deciding on appropriate action applying the Managing Sickness Absence Policy accurately tracking and progressing the management of long term sickness through case management informing HR when the review stage commences undertaking early intervention during a period of long term sickness absence maintaining regular contact with an employee during a period of long term sickness absence and keeping the employee informed considering adjustments and deciding whether to implement where reasonable maintaining confidentiality arranging meetings as necessary drafting and issuing of letters, reports and documentation with HR support as necessary All employees are responsible for: adopting a pro-active approach to wellbeing to prevent sickness absence and encourage a return to work attending work unless unfit to do so applying the Managing Sickness Absence Policy accurately maintaining regular contact with their manager during a period of long term sickness absence engaging in and co-operating with the process, including referrals to Occupational Health The HR person who is supporting the manager is responsible for: advising on policy application supporting with case management advising on the completion of letters, reports and relevant documentation attending meetings in an advisory capacity HR does not perform a decision making role Occupational Health are responsible for: receiving referrals from management and reviewing employees Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 20 of 29 Version 1.0

21 requesting medical information liaising with the manager and employee to support a return to work making recommendations in line with the needs of the service recommending whether ill health retirement could be an option The trade union representative or College work colleague is responsible for: supporting their member/ colleague attending meetings or ensuring meetings are covered and not delayed They may make representations, submit papers, ask questions and address a meeting on behalf of the employee. They may not answer questions on behalf of the employee Trigger Point The long term trigger point is: 21 calendar days or more on one occasion in a rolling 12 month period When the trigger point is met the manager must commence the review stage consider whether a referral to OH is necessary Policy Stages There are three possible stages: review stage mutual agreement OR final case review appeal (final case review only) 11.3 Review Stage The manager will review the employee s absence throughout their period of sickness and maintain contact, which may include review meetings with the employee. The employee has no statutory right to be accompanied at a review meeting. It is hoped that through the review stage, the manager can support an employee to return to work, without needing to progress to a final case review or mutual agreement. Once the review stage has commenced HR must be contacted. Review meetings are an opportunity for the manager to discuss the absence with the employee and identify possible next steps (any formal decisions about the employee s future employment will be made at a final case review). Ideally these will take place face to face or where this is not possible, via the telephone. Review meetings will be repeated throughout the period of absence. The number and frequency will depend on the circumstances of each case but as a guide they should be every 4-6 weeks. It is useful to arrange a review meeting to follow an OH review. The employee has no statutory right to be accompanied at a review meeting, however in some circumstances it is recognised that it may be beneficial for the employee to be accompanied. It may also be of benefit for a member of the HR team to attend. How to run a review meeting Discuss the following areas with the employee: the nature and expected duration of their current absence, including any treatment plans, key dates and anticipated return to work date (if known) recommendations made by the employee s GP and / or Specialist Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 21 of 29 Version 1.0

22 the employee s views and expectations regarding a possible return to work or future plans whether a referral to OH is appropriate OH guidance and their recommendations any previous sickness absence organisational difficulties and consideration of whether the absence can be sustained the employee s entitlement to pay under the sickness pay scheme annual leave entitlements and options for taking leave whilst off sick identifying any actions for the employee e.g. providing Statements of Fitness for Work, pro-active steps to improve their health and well-being or attendance at a medical appointment reasonable adjustments or flexible working that may support a return to work a return to work plan (if a return to work date is known) the possibility of medical redeployment (pending a recommendation from OH) if a member of a pension scheme discuss the possibility of ill health retirement (IHR) exploration of mutual agreement A summary of the key points discussed at each review meeting should be kept on the record of informal discussion and shared with the employee. A copy should also be kept on the personnel file When To Progress To A Final Case Review A final case review will be held where; the department can no longer sustain the absence whether continuous absence or a history and pattern of periods of long term absence over a prolonged period of time the medical advice recommends that the employee will not return to their substantive role in the foreseeable future (this may be supported by medical redeployment) the medical advice recommends that the employee will not return to employment in the foreseeable future (this may be supported by a recommendation for IHR) An OH report will be required prior to a final case review. If medical advice has previously been sought, confirmation that the advice is still current should be sought from OH. The decision to move forward with a final case review must take into account the OH advice and the operational implications of the absence. How to invite an employee to a formal stage meeting The manager must write to the employee to invite them to a formal meeting. The letter must give a minimum of 7 calendar days notice of the meeting. A template letter should be used to ensure all the necessary information is included. Final Case Review An OH report will be required prior to a final case review. The manager and employee are expected to provide details of any significant issues and relevant papers in advance of the meeting. Management documents will normally be supplied with the invitation letter. Dependent upon the nature and complexity of the absence concern, the manager may produce a management report. The employee, or their companion, must submit their information to arrive at least 3 calendar days before a meeting. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Page 22 of 29 Version 1.0

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