Sickness & Absence

Introduction

This policy sets out our procedures for reporting sickness absence and for the management of sickness absence in a fair and consistent way. 


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). 


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.We may vary the procedures set out in this policy, including any time limits, as appropriate in any case.

Disabilities

  • We are aware that sickness absence may result from a disability. At each stage of the sickness absence meetings procedure 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.

  • If you consider that you are affected by a disability or any medical condition which affects your ability to undertake your work, you should inform your line manager.

Sickness Absence Reporting Procedure

  • If you are taken ill or injured while at work you should report or be taken to your Line Manager and be given permission to leave work. Managers should contact other staff to make arrangements for anyone who is unwell to be accompanied home and/or to receive medical treatment where necessary.

  • If you cannot attend work because you are ill or injured you should normally telephone your line manager as early as possible and no later than 30 minutes after the time when you are normally expected to start work. The following details should be provided:

    • The nature of your illness.

    • The expected length of your 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 reported to HR and that arrangements are made, where necessary, to cover work and to inform colleagues and clients (while maintaining confidentiality).

  • You should expect to be contacted during your absence by your line manager who will want to enquire after your health and be advised, if possible, as to your expected return date.

Sickness Absence & Holidays

Before Departure

  • Employees who fall ill or suffer an injury prior to any pre-booked or fixed holidays but who remain sick during the period of pre-booked leave, may elect to treat the days of incapacity as sickness absence instead of annual leave but only where they have not had or will not have the opportunity to take 20 days leave in that holiday year.

  • You must follow the sickness absence reporting procedures and inform your line manager of your incapacity and its likely duration as soon as possible.

  • Employees will not be able to defer holidays or receive sick pay for the period in question if they fail to comply with the normal notification procedures set out above. In such cases the period in question will be treated and paid as annual leave.

  • All sicknesses which occur during a holiday must be covered by a fit note or other form of medical certification issued by a physician, which must be obtained at the employee’s own expense (and will not be reimbursed by the Company): Holiday deferrals and sick pay will not therefore be granted for absences covered by self-certification.

  • Employees who elect to treat the days of incapacity as sickness will be allowed to defer the equivalent time originally booked as leave to a later date, subject to them satisfying the requirements of this policy. Holidays deferred as a result of sickness must be taken within the holiday year where there is sufficient time left within the year to take the holidays: Where there is insufficient time within the remainder of the holiday year, ideally employees should take these holidays at the start of the subsequent holiday year.

On Holiday

  • Employees who fall ill or incur injury whilst on a pre-booked or fixed holiday may elect to treat the days of incapacity as sickness absence instead of annual leave but only where they have not had or will not have the opportunity to take 20 days leave in that holiday year.

  • You must follow the sickness absence reporting procedures and inform your line manager of your incapacity and its likely duration as soon as possible even if you are abroad.

  • Other than in very exceptional cases, the provisions of this policy will not apply where employees submit a retrospective notification of sickness incurred during a holiday.

  • Employees will not be able to defer holidays or receive sick pay for the period in question if they fail to comply with the normal notification procedures.

  • In such cases the period in question will be treated and paid as annual leave. All illnesses which occur during a holiday must be covered by a fit note or other form of medical certification issued by a physician, which must be obtained at the employee’s own expense (and will not be reimbursed by the Company)

  • Holiday deferrals and sick pay will not therefore be granted for absences covered by self-certification.

  • Employees who elect to treat the days of incapacity as sickness will be allowed to defer the equivalent time originally booked as leave to a later date, subject to them satisfying the requirements of this policy.

  • Holidays deferred as a result of sickness must be taken within the holiday year where there is sufficient time left within the year to take the holidays.

Evidence of Incapacity

  • For sickness absence of up to seven calendar days you must complete a self-certification form, which is available here. 

  • For absence of more than a week your must obtain a certificate from your doctor (a "Statement of Fitness for Work") stating that you are not fit for work and the reason(s) why. This should be forwarded to HR as soon as possible.

  • If your absence continues, further medical certificates must be provided to cover the whole period of absence. If your doctor provides a certificate stating that you "may be fit for work" you should inform your line manager and HR immediately. We will discuss with you any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate your return to work, taking account of your 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 we will set a date to review the situation.

  • Where we are concerned about the reason for absence, or the level of frequent short-term absence, we may require a medical certificate for each absence regardless of duration. In such circumstances, we will cover any costs incurred in obtaining such medical certificates, for absences of a week or less, on production of a doctor's invoice.

Unauthorised Absences

  • Cases of unauthorised absence will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

  • Absence that has not been notified according to the sickness absence reporting procedure will be treated as unauthorised absence.

  • If you do not report for work and have not telephoned your line manager to explain the reason for your absence, your line manager may try to contact you, by telephone and in writing if necessary. This should not be treated as a substitute for reporting sickness absence.

Sick Pay

  • You should refer to your contract for details of the sick pay to which you 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, you must immediately notify Management 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.

Staying in Touch

  • If you are absent on sick leave you should expect to be contacted from time to time by your line manager and/or HR or another member of the management team in order to discuss your wellbeing, expected length of continued absence from work and any of your work that requires attention. 

  • Such contact is intended to provide reassurance and will be kept to a reasonable minimum. If you have any concerns while absent on sick leave, whether about the reason for your absence or your ability to return to work, you should feel free to contact your line manager and/or HR at any time

Medical Examinations

  • We may, at any time in operating this policy, ask you to consent to a medical examination by a doctor or occupational health advisor nominated by us (at our expense). 

  • You 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.

Return to Work

  • If you have been absent on sick leave we may arrange for you to have a return-to-work interview with your line manager or HR.

  • A return-to-work interview enables us to confirm the details of your absence. It also gives you the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions you may have, and to bring any relevant matters to our attention.

  • Where your doctor has provided a certificate stating that you "may be fit for work" we will usually hold a return-to-work interview to discuss any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate your return to work, taking account of your doctor's advice.

  • We are committed to helping employees return to work from long-term sickness absence. As part of our sickness absence meetings procedure (see paragraph 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.

      + Agreeing a return to work programme with everyone affected.

  • If you are unable to return to work in the longer term, we will consider whether you are entitled to any benefits under your contract and/or any insurance schemes we operate.

Sickness Absence Meetings

Procedure

  • We may apply this procedure whenever we consider it necessary, including, for example, if you:      + Have been absent due to illness on a number of occasions.

      + Have discussed matters at a return to work interview that require investigation.

      + Have been absent for more than 28 days.

  • Unless it is impractical to do so, we will give you 7-calendar days written notice of the date, time and place of a sickness absence meeting. We will put any concerns about your sickness absence and the basis for those concerns in writing or otherwise advise why the meeting is being called. A reasonable opportunity for you to consider this information before a meeting will be provided.

  • Your line manager or HR will conduct the meeting. A note taker may also be present. You may bring a companion with you to the meeting.

  • You must take all reasonable steps to attend a meeting. Failure to do so without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If you or your companion are unable to attend at the time specified you should immediately inform your line manager or HR who will seek to agree an alternative time. 

  • A meeting may be adjourned if your line manager or HR is awaiting receipt of information, needs to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at a previous meeting. You 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 to you in writing within 10 working 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, your line manager or HR considers that you have taken or are taking sickness absence when you are not unwell, they may refer matters to be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

Your right to be accompanied to meetings

  • You may bring a companion to any meeting or appeal meeting under this procedure. 

  • Your companion may be either a trade union representative or a fellow employee. Their identity must be confirmed to the manager conducting the meeting, in good time before it takes place.

  • Employees are allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay to act as a companion. However, they are not obliged to act as a companion and may decline a request if they so wish.

  • Some companions may not be allowed: for example, anyone who may have a conflict of interest, or whose presence may prejudice a meeting. Companions should not normally work at another site, unless no-one reasonably suitable is available at the site at which you work.

  • We may at our discretion, permit a companion who is not an employee or union representative (for example, a family member) where this will help overcome particular difficulties caused by a disability, or difficulty understanding English. This is at our absolute discretion and will be considered on a case by case basis.

  • A companion may make representations, ask questions, and sum up your position, but will not be allowed to answer questions on your behalf. You may confer privately with your companion at any time during a meeting.

Stage One: First Meeting

  • This will follow the procedure set out above 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.

    • Determining how long the absence is likely to last.

    • Determining the likelihood of further absences.

    • Considering whether medical advice is required.

    • Considering what, if any, measures might improve your health and/or attendance.

    • Agreeing a way forward, action that will be taken and agreeing a time-scale for review and/or a further meeting.

Stage Two: Second Meeting

  • Depending on the matters discussed at the first stage of the sickness absence procedure, a further meeting or meetings may be necessary. Arrangements for meetings under the second stage of the sickness absence procedure will follow the procedure set out above on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings.

  • The purposes of further meeting(s) may include:

    • Discussing the reasons for and impact of your ongoing absence(s). Where you are on long-term sickness absence, discussing how long your absence is likely to last.

    • Where you 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 your ability to return to/remain in your job in view both of your capabilities and our business needs and any adjustments that can reasonably be made to your job to enable you to do so.

    • Considering possible redeployment opportunities and whether any adjustments can reasonably be made to assist in redeploying you.

    • Where you are able to return from long-term sick leave, whether to your job or a redeployed job, agreeing a return to work programme.

    • If it is considered that you are unlikely to be able to return to work from long-term absence, whether there are any benefits for which you should be considered.

    • 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 you that you are at risk of dismissal.

Stage Three: Third Meeting

  • Where you have been warned that you are at risk of dismissal, we may invite you to a meeting under the third stage of the sickness absence procedure. Arrangements for this meeting will follow the procedure set out above 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 you.

    • Where you remain on long-term sickness absence, to consider whether there have been any changes since the last meeting under stage two of the procedure, either as regards your possible return to work or opportunities for return or redeployment.

    • To consider any further matters that you wish to raise.

    • To consider whether there is a reasonable likelihood of you returning to work or achieving the desired level of attendance in a reasonable time.

    • To consider the possible termination of your employment. Termination will normally be with full notice or payment in lieu of notice.

Appeals

  • You may appeal against the outcome of any stage of this procedure and you may bring a companion to an appeal meeting 

  • An appeal should be made in writing, stating the full grounds of appeal, to HR within 7 calendar days of the date on which the decision was sent to you.

  • Unless it is not practicable, you will be given written notice of an appeal meeting within one week of the meeting. In cases of dismissal the appeal will be held as soon as possible. Any new matters raised in an appeal may delay an appeal meeting if further investigation is required.

  • You will be provided with written details of any new information which comes to light before an appeal meeting. You will also be given a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the meeting.

  • Where practicable, an appeal meeting will be conducted by a manager senior to the individual who conducted the sickness absence meeting or a different Director who has not previously been involved.

  • Depending on the grounds of appeal, an appeal meeting may be a complete rehearing of the matter or a review of the original decision.

  • 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 10 working 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.