Sickness Absence Management Procedure for Employees

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1 Sickness Absence Management Procedure for Employees September 2012

2 This is a Royal Borough of Greenwich policy document which the Governing Body has adopted. CONTENTS 1 Introduction Policy Aim Prevention Application and scope Statutory Regulations Confidentiality Disabled Employees Role of Council s Medical Adviser Misconduct Trade Union Officials 10 2 Standards expected Responsibilities of Employees Rights of Employees Responsibilities of the Royal Borough Rights of the Royal Borough Responsibilities of Headteachers/Managers/Governors Rights of Headteachers/Managers/Governors Responsibilities of the Governing Body Rights of the Governing Body 15 3 Reporting and monitoring of sickness absence Reporting Sickness Absence 16 4 Sickness absence 17 RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 2

3 5 Informal sickness absence Return-to-Work Contact Informal Review Informal to Formal Procedure 21 6 Formal sickness absence Introduction Part-time Employees Stage 1: Intermittent Absence caused by unconnected 22 Illnesses 6.3 Stage 2: Intermittent Absences caused by unconnected 24 illnesses 6.4 Stage 3: Intermittent Absences caused by unconnected 26 illnesses 6.5 Chronic/Long-Term Sickness or Intermittent Absences 26 caused by an underlying medical condition 7 Other related issues Sick Pay Ill Health Retirement/ Redeployment/ Pension Absence Due to Pregnancy Industrial Injury Probationers/ Other Employees with less than 26 Weeks service Employees who in the School s opinion are unfit to work 30 due to sickness 7.7 Absence for Medical/Dental and Cancer Screening 31 Appointments 7.8 Dealing with Specific Situations Low volume Sickness in Association with Domestic or 32 Behavioural Problems Absence due to Alcohol or Drug Misuse Absence as a Consequence of the Working Environment 33 RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 3

4 Appendices 1 Delegation to Headteacher to staff appointments and A1 dismissals 2 Informal Sickness Absence Monitoring Form A2 3 Dealing with Absence Due to an Employee s Disability A3 4 Referrals to the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser/ Conflict A4 of Opinion 5 Setting Targets A5 6 Appeal against Decision to Set Targets A6 7 Appeal against Decision to Advise Employee that A7 Employment is At Risk on Absence Grounds 8 Formal Meeting to Consider Dismissal on Sickness A8 Absence Grounds 9 Appeal against Decision to Dismiss Employee on Sickness A9 Absence Grounds 10 Phased Return Following Extended Sickness Absence A10 11 Terminal Illnesses A11 12 Ill Health Retirement A12 13 Flow chart for Formal Absence Procedure A13 Model Letters 1 Instruction to attend Stage 1 Formal Review 2 Letter confirming decision to set an improvement target/monitor 3 Letter confirming improvement over 3 month monitoring period 4 Letter confirming stage 1 outcome chronic absence 5 Instruction to attend Stage 2 Formal Review 6 Letter confirming Employment at Risk Intermittent absences 7 Letter confirming Employment at Risk- Chronic Cases RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 4

5 8 Instruction to attend Stage 3 Formal Review 9 Letter confirming Dismissal following EAR for intermittent absences 10 Letter confirming Dismissal - following EAR for chronic cases 11 Letter confirming ill-health Retirement (where employee concurs with the medical Advisers conclusion that they are permanently incapable of undertaking the duties of their current post but are able to undertake the duties of a comparable post) 12 Letter confirming dismissal by reason of permanent ill health (where employee concurs with the medical Advisers conclusion that they are permanently incapable of undertaking any employment with the Royal Borough) 13 Letter confirming dismissal by reason of permanent ill- health (where the employee does not concur with the Medical Advisers conclusion) 14 Referral to Occupational Health 15 Suspension from Duty on Medical Grounds 16 Notice to Attend Appeal Hearing 17 Confirmation of the Outcome of an Appeal Hearing RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 5

6 Sickness Absence Procedure 1.0 Introduction 1.1 Policy Schools have a responsibility to manage sickness absence in a way which safeguards the interests of the pupils and other staff whilst at the same time showing understanding to the individual. The School aims to achieve this by providing a healthy and safe working environment and by keeping avoidable absence to an absolute minimum. The Royal Borough of Greenwich, as a good employer, does not wish its employees to attend for work when they are too sick, but does expect its employees to take personal responsibility for their attendance and to meet their contractual obligations to work. Frequent or extended absence, even though genuine, can significantly impair the quality of the service that the school provides and affects the continuity of pupil s education. The procedure sets out guidance to Headteachers, Managers and Governors in the understanding, monitoring and reducing of sickness absence and the investigations and actions that should be taken. 1.2 Aim The aim of this procedure is to provide a framework to effectively and consistently manage sickness absence, while ensuring that all staff are treated with respect, understanding, compassion, fairly, according to their particular circumstances, and with full regard to all the School s policies and the Royal Borough s duty of care and welfare to its employees. 1.3 Prevention The primary objective of effective sickness absence management is to prevent sickness absence. Headteachers and governing bodies share a responsibility for the welfare of the individual and it should be borne in mind that sickness absence may be an indicator of organisational factors, e.g. low morale, low motivation, as much as reflecting the predisposition to sickness amongst staff. Unnecessary absences occur less frequently when staff have the benefit of: RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 6

7 Effective recruitment and selection procedures Good induction and training Training for those with supervisory responsibility Job satisfaction (morale and motivation) Clear allocation of responsibility Positive management attitudes Opportunities to discuss problems, issues and concerns with managers Good physical working conditions Proper attention to managing sickness absence can help reduce absence rates; lessen the impact on the other staff; maintain continuity of teaching; and assist those who are off sick make a successful return to work. 1.4 Application and Scope This procedure applies to all staff but does not apply: During a probationary period (in these circumstances managers should refer to the probation procedure) During or at the end of a fixed term contract of less than 26 weeks duration To temporary employees with less than 26 weeks service To absences due to pregnancy up to the end of the approved maternity leave period To absences caused by an exclusion from work due to contact with an infectious disease To agency staff 1.5 Statutory Regulations This procedure takes account of all the relevant statutory requirements in the following ways: Under the Dispute Resolution Regulations introduced in 2004 dismissals must be actioned using the minimum 3-step procedure as set out below. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 7

8 1. Write to the employee informing that their level of absence has triggered formal action and invite them to a meeting to discuss the matter. 2. Hold a meeting to discuss the level of absence at which the employee has the right to be accompanied and notify the employee of the decision. 3. If the employee wishes to appeal, hold an appeal meeting at which the employee has the right to be accompanied and inform the employee of the final decision. Dismissal and notice periods are effective from the date of the IDD with reinstatement should the appeal be successful There will be a right of appeal against any formal action taken. The Director of Children s Services (in practice, The Schools HR Team) must be informed of any proceedings that may lead to an employee's dismissal. The Director is entitled, and will in most cases wish, to be represented at such a hearing. The Director must also be informed immediately of the suspension of any member of staff. Following a decision to dismiss an employee the school should formally notify the Director of Children s Services in writing, outlining the reasons, who will issue the formal notice to dismiss. 1.6 Confidentiality Throughout the application of this procedure Headteachers/Managers/Governors may become aware of medical or other personal information concerning individual employees. Headteachers/Managers/Governors must take care to ensure that confidentiality is maintained throughout and that information is only disclosed to those persons who are authorised to receive it. It is essential that confidential documentary information is kept in a secure place. All employees should be aware that any breach of confidentially will render them liable to disciplinary action. 1.7 Disabled Employees The Royal Borough is committed to the employment of people with disabilities. It is essential that Headteachers/Managers/Governors ensure staff with disabilities are not unlawfully discriminated against for a reason which relates to their disability. Headteachers/Managers/Governors must take account of this when dealing with any absence due to an employee s disability (see Appendix 3). RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 8

9 1.8 Role of the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser Control of sickness absence is a management issue and referral to the Medical Adviser should not be used as a substitute for such action. The Medical Adviser should be consulted in all sickness-related cases, which could lead to dismissal (see Appendix 4). Referral should not be automatic, but should happen where there appears to be an underlying medical reason for the absence or where there is some other good reason for seeking medical advice. Where there are undue delays in obtaining information from the Medical Adviser or where the Medical Adviser wishes to review the case at some future date and such a delay is considered unacceptable by management, advice will be provided by Human Resources. If at any time the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser recommends redeployment, then this will be handled in accordance with the Royal Borough s Redeployment Procedure. If at any time the advice of the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser conflicts significantly with the opinion of the employee s own medical adviser then the employee should be interviewed or where appropriate examined by an independent medical referee (see Appendix 4). 1.9 Misconduct Disciplinary action will be taken where: The employee s reported absence is proven to be not genuine. The employee engages in conduct that the School considers prejudicial to their recovery unless the employee s medical advice states otherwise. An employee unreasonably refuses to attend a meeting with the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser or be examined by that Adviser. Employees must realise that any such refusal may result in decisions being made on the facts available at the time Trade Union Officials In the case of Trade Union Officials who are absent due to sickness, no action should be taken beyond Stage 1 until the circumstances of the case have been fully discussed with a full-time official of the Union concerned and the Human Resources representative. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 9

10 2.0 Standards expected Headteachers, governing bodies, the Royal Borough and the individual employees all have a part to play in the management of sickness absence. 2.1 Responsibilities of Employees Employees have the following responsibilities: To maintain a high level of attendance at work and meet their contractual obligations to work. To only report sick when genuinely unfit to attend, or remain at work. To notify the school, maintain contact and comply with the School s Sickness Reporting Procedure. To be responsible for supplying valid medical certificates and ensuring that there are no gaps in any absence requiring certification. To attend any medical interview or examination with the Royal Borough's Medical Adviser if required in accordance with this procedure. To attend Return-to-Work (RTW) contacts with their Manager/Headteacher/Governors, and any other meetings required in accordance with this procedure. To discuss any disability they may have with their Manager/Headteacher/Governors if they wish to have that disability taken into account in relation to their job. To refrain from engaging in any conduct that will be prejudicial to their recovery during any period of sickness absence. To seek appropriate medical advice about the effect of any conduct on their future recovery. 2.2 Rights of Employees Employees have the following rights: To be treated with respect, understanding and compassion. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 10

11 To have their case dealt with fairly and to be made aware of their rights under this procedure. To be given an opportunity to discuss the matter with the appropriate Manager, Headteacher or Governors before any decision is made and to be given an opportunity to respond. To have access to their medical information and to receive copies of their medical reports when requested, subject to the provisions of the Access to Medical Records Act To have access to trade union representation, or any other representation, at all formal stages of this procedure, if requested. To be advised of the implications of unsatisfactory attendance and to be given an opportunity to improve (through the setting of clearly established targets). To be advised where they can obtain/access a copy of this procedure. To have their case treated in a confidential manner. To be given reasonable advance warning of when their sick pay is about to be stopped or reduced. To be treated in accordance with the Royal Borough's/School s Equal Opportunities Policy. To appeal against any decision to dismiss on the grounds of sickness absence. 2.3 Responsibilities of the Royal Borough The Royal Borough will assist schools in managing levels of absence by: Ensuring that appropriate procedures on the management of sickness absence are recommended for adoption by schools. To ensure Managers/Headteachers/Governors are aware of the Royal Borough s approach in dealing with sickness absence and the procedures to be applied when action becomes necessary To terminate an employee s service where the level of absence is no longer acceptable. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 11

12 2.4 Rights of the Royal Borough The Royal Borough has the following rights: To be present at hearings which could result in dismissal. 2.5 Responsibilities of Headteachers/Managers/Governors (where appropriate) Headteachers/Managers/Governors have the following responsibilities: To maintain an awareness of sickness levels, thoroughly review the circumstances relevant to each individual case, apply formal procedures only where necessary and apply the appropriate procedures. To communicate with employees and maintain an awareness of their general welfare. To regularly monitor and review levels of sickness absence of any employee they manage and provide sickness absence details to the Royal Borough. To keep avoidable absence to an absolute minimum. To carry out Return-to-Work contacts or interviews as necessary. To make sure employees are aware of the School s reporting procedures for sickness absence. To attempt to maintain contact with those on long-term sick leave, for example by regular telephone contact, by writing to the employee, or with the employee s prior agreement by visiting the employee at home. To give written notice of all formal review meetings and to confirm any decisions in writing setting out the reasons for the decision (and any targets which have been set and the likely consequences of failing to meet the targets, for example moving to the next stage of the sickness absence procedure, if relevant). To determine that the level of sickness absence is unsatisfactory (and set targets for improvement). To deal fairly but firmly with an employee whose level of sickness absence is unsatisfactory. To treat any information obtained as a consequence of applying this procedure confidentially. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 12

13 To consider terminating an employee s service prior to an employee exhausting their entitlements under the sickness scheme. To work in accordance with the Royal Borough s/school s Equal Opportunities Policy at all times. To ensure that the Royal Borough/School carries out its obligations in relation to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (see Appendix 2). To apply this procedure fairly. To consider the advice of the Royal Borough. To lead in determining initial dismissal decisions (IDD) as appropriate. To hear appeals against dismissals as appropriate. 2.6 Rights of Headteachers/Managers/Governors Headteachers/Managers/Governors have the following rights: To refer an employee to the Royal Borough's Medical Adviser for assessment. In appropriate cases to make contact in writing with the employee at home, or by regular telephone contact while observing the Human Rights Act In particular the provisions relating to respect for family life, home life and private life. To initiate procedures for the termination of service where the level of sickness absence is no longer acceptable. To institute action under the School's disciplinary procedure where evidence indicates that the provisions in relation to sick leave are being abused. To medically suspend an employee where it is believed they are unfit to work Responsibilities of the Governing Body The Governing Body have the following responsibilities: To adopt a sickness management procedure and regularly review this. To ensure that the Headteacher carries out his/her responsibilities as outlined in the procedure. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 13

14 To monitor the absence of the Headteacher and ensure appropriate procedures are applied. To determine the appropriate course of action when a Headteacher refers a case when all actions taken by the Headteacher have failed to remedy the situation. To take account of the health of the school staff and to provide support consistent with their medical condition and contractual entitlements and to make reasonable adjustments where disabled (see Appendix 3). To take appropriate action to maintain services when absence levels become excessive. To strike a balance between the School s need for the work to be done and the employee's need for time to recover to full health. To provide a healthy and safe working environment. To effectively control and manage the School's services through the proper management of sickness absence. To consider the advice of the Royal Borough. 2.8 Rights of the Governing Body The Governing Body have the following rights: To require an employee to undergo an interview or examination by the Royal Borough smedical Adviser. To terminate an employee s service where the level of absence is no longer acceptable. To expect Headteachers/Managers to properly apply the sickness absence procedure and to effectively manage sickness absence. To consider terminating an employee s service prior to an employee exhausting their entitlements under the sickness scheme. To medically suspend an employee where it is believed they are unfit to work. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 14

15 3.0 Reporting and monitoring of sickness absence 3.1. Reporting sickness absence Due to the unplanned nature of sickness absence it is important that Headteachers/Managers are able to plan workloads and continue to deliver an effective service. It is vital that absence is reported promptly so that appropriate arrangements can be made regarding an employee s duties. All staff must report sickness absences in accordance with the School s procedures for reporting such absences. It must be remembered that if an employee fails to adhere to the reporting instructions without adequate explanation, it could result in forfeiture of their pay during the absence and/or disciplinary action. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 15

16 4.0 Sickness absence 4.1 Broadly speaking patterns of sickness absence usually occur in one of two ways, namely: Persistent short-term absences; or Long periods of continuous absence. Of course not all patterns of sickness absence fall neatly into one of these groups. The appropriate course of action will depend on the circumstances of the case and some flexibility of approach may be needed. 4.2 Persistent short-term sickness absence is characterised by: Frequent periods of intermittent absence where no underlying medical condition has been diagnosed; or Frequent periods of intermittent absence caused by a number of unconnected illnesses. 4.3 Intermittent absences caused by a number of unconnected illnesses should be managed in accordance with the Informal Procedure and paragraphs 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4 of the Formal Procedure. 4.4 Chronic/ Long-term sickness absence is characterised by, either: A long period of continuous sickness, or Frequent periods of intermittent absence caused by an underlying medical condition. 4.5 Absences for chronic/long-term sickness, which may include absences due to disability (see Appendix 3), are an issue of capability. They should be managed in accordance with the Informal Procedure and paragraph 6.5 of the Formal Procedure. 4.6Sickness absence may also occur in specific circumstances, which may require Managers to seek further advice from Human Resources, for example: In association with domestic or behavioural problems. As a consequence of domestic violence. Due to alcohol/drug misuse. As a consequence of the working environment. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 16

17 Due to terminal Illness (see Appendix 11) RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 17

18 5.0 INFORMAL SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 5.1 Return-to-Work Contact The Headteacher/Manager will, as part of their everyday supervisory responsibilities, communicate with employees and maintain an awareness of their general welfare. In this way sickness absence problems will be identified early and resolved in the course of the day-to- day relationship. When an employee returns to work the Headteacher/Manager will make contact with the employee on their first day back, or as soon as practicable. Irrespective of the duration of the absence, the purpose of the contact is to create an opportunity for the Headteacher/Manager to cover the following: Welcome the employee back to work. Ensure the employee has completed a self-certification form or where appropriate, provide a medical certificate or fit to return certificate. Clarify the reason for the absence and discuss any problems and/or health concerns. Try and establish whether the absence is related to a disability or impairment and discuss whether any reasonable adjustments are required. Try and find out if the illness is likely to recur and if further time-off will be necessary(e.g. for treatment). Give the employee the opportunity to raise any other concerns relevant to their return to work. Advise the employee, if relevant, of any problems arising from the absence and any changes that may have occurred. Advise the employee of the School s sickness absence and reporting procedures. In some cases it will not be necessary to cover all the points listed above; the Headteacher/Manager will make a sensible judgment on what points to cover. In all cases the Headteacher/Manager will keep a record of the contact (Appendix 2 - Informal Sickness Absence Monitoring form). A copy of this must be given to the employee and the original retained on the employee s file. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 18

19 5.2 Informal Review Where the Headteacher/Manager believes that an employee's pattern of sickness absence gives rise to managerial concern or, in any event, when there has been 6 working days (see clause for part-time employees) sickness absence (continuous or cumulative) in a 12- month period an informal review will be held with the employee, normally within 2 weeks. In some cases it will not be appropriate to conduct an informal review within these timescales for medical reasons, but in all cases the Headteacher/Manager should provide the employee with an opportunity to informally discuss their absence before moving to the formal stages of the procedure. The reference to a 12-month period does not mean that the Headteacher/Manager has to wait twelve months before taking action. The purpose of the informal review is to create an opportunity for the Headteacher/Manager to: Discuss the reasons for the absence and any problems or health concerns. Try and establish whether the absence is related to a disability or impairment and discuss whether any reasonable adjustments are required. Try and find out if the illness is likely to recur and if further time-off will be necessary(e.g. for treatment). Discuss any patterns of sickness absence that may have been identified. Discuss and identify any work or other (see clause 4.6) issues that may be contributing to the sickness absence. Bring to the employee's attention the effect their absence is having on colleagues and service delivery. Advise the employee of any problems arising from the absence and any changes that may have occurred. Give the employee the opportunity to raise any other worries or concerns relevant to their return to work. Consider whether any advice or support could be made available to assist the employee. Explore and identify potential solutions. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 19

20 Consider whether alternative options in relation to hours or working practices would be appropriate bearing in mind the needs of the service. Advise the employee of their total absence due to sickness in the previous 12 months. Inform the employee about their sickness absence and advise them of how they will trigger the School s Formal Sickness Absence Procedure. Agree any action plan for improving attendance. In certain circumstances it may be appropriate to refer the employee to the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser. In all cases the Headteacher/Manager will keep a record of the informal review (Appendix 1 - Informal Sickness Absence Monitoring form). A copy of this must be given to the employee and the original placed on the employee's personnel file. 5.3 Informal/ Formal All cases must first be considered in accordance with the informal sickness absence procedure prior to moving to the formal procedure below. This is so even where an employee s first period of sickness absence reaches 9 days in a 12-month period and their absence would normally be reviewed in accordance with Stage 1. In such cases Stage 1 should be carried out at an appropriate time, but normally within 6 weeks. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 20

21 6.0 Formal Sickness Absence Procedure 6.1 Introduction The Formal Sickness Absence procedure is triggered where the Headteacher/Manager believes that an employee s level of sickness absence gives rise to managerial concern or, in any event, when the employee's level of sickness absence reaches 9 working days sickness absence (continuous or cumulative), or 4 periods of absence total more than 6 working days, in a 12-month period. Triggering the Formal Procedure occurs automatically, but the decision following the review will depend on the individual circumstances and merits of the case. In exceptional circumstances it may not be appropriate to conduct a formal review. For example, where an employee suffers a heart attack or is undergoing an operation and it is certified that they will be coming back to work following a reasonable period of absence for recovery Part-time employees Any trigger points or targets set for improvement in accordance with this procedure shall apply equally to part-time employees. For example, a part-time employee who works an average 2.5 hours each day over a 5-day week would have the triggers applied for cases of chronic sickness when their absence has reached 20 days of 2.5 hours. Similarly, where a part-time employee works 3 days a week at any number of hours each day, the trigger would be applied when their absence has reached 12 days (the actual number of hours worked in this case is irrelevant). 6.2 Stage 1: Intermittent Absences caused by unconnected illnesses Where the Headteacher/Manager believes that an employee s level of sickness absence gives rise to managerial concern or, in any event, when an employee's level of sickness absence reaches 9 working days (see clause for part-time employees) sickness absence (continuous or cumulative), or 4 periods of absence total more than 6 working days, in a 12 month period, then a meeting will be arranged with the employee as soon as practicable. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 21

22 A trade union representative or work colleague may attend if the employee wishes. Five working days notice of the meeting will be given. If the representative is not available on the given date of the hearing the employee is entitled to propose a reasonable alternative date, which may be up to 5 working days after the original date. Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate the availability of both the representative and the manager. After this period the School is entitled to hold the meeting irrespective of whether or not the employee attends. The purpose of the meeting will be for the Headteacher/Manager to: Review the sickness absence record and previous efforts to assist the employee. Consider any relevant medical information that is available and obtain further medical information if deemed necessary by referral to the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser. Identify the impact the absence is having on the service and on colleagues. Discuss the reasons for absence and any information the employee has to offer (e.g. personal, domestic, welfare issues, that the absence was connected to a disability). Consider the employee's explanation. Consider, with the employee, whether reasonable adjustments are required, which may assist them in reducing their sickness absences (e.g. change in hours, working arrangements, alternative or temporary duties or redeployment bearing in mind the needs of the service). At the meeting the potential for chronic/ long-term sickness may well be discussed. If this is the case then the matter should be handled in accordance with clause 6.5 below. Care should be taken to ensure that the meeting is not conducted in an adversarial manner; this is not a disciplinary issue. If the Headteacher/Manager decides that it is not necessary at this time to set targets for improvement this will be confirmed in writing to the employee and they will be advised that their attendance will continue to be monitored. If the Headteacher/Manager decides the level of sickness absence is unsatisfactory, and that targets are necessary, they will advise the employee: That they need to improve. The timescale during which sickness absence levels must reduce. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 22

23 The consequences of failure to reduce their level of sickness absence i.e. a further monitoring period will be set at Stage 2 of the procedure. Details of setting targets for improvement are at Appendix 5. At the end of the monitoring period the Headteacher/Manager will review the level of sickness absence. If it is satisfactory the employee will be advised in writing and reminded of the need to sustain their level of improvement. If it is not satisfactory Stage 2 will be reached. In all cases the Headteacher/Manager will keep a record of the Stage 1 Review and a copy will be placed on the employee's personnel file. This will remain on file but will be disregarded for the purposes of this procedure after a satisfactory period of attendance, which will not exceed one year. There is a right of appeal against the decision to set targets at this stage (see Appendix6). 6.3 Stage 2: Intermittent Absences caused by unconnected illnesses Stage 2 is reached in the following circumstances, either: The sickness absence has exceeded the targets set at Stage 1, Or The initial improvement achieved at the end of the monitoring period at Stage 1 has not been sustained. A further meeting will be arranged by the Headteacher/Manager to review the employee s sickness absence record. The purpose is outlined at Stage 1. Rights in relation to representation are set out in Stage 1. If the Headteacher/Manager decides that it is not necessary at this time to set targets for improvement this will be confirmed in writing to the employee and they will be advised that their attendance will continue to be monitored. If the Headteacher/Manager considers the level of sickness absence to be unacceptable: A further monitoring period will be set (normally 2-3 months, but can be extended depending on the circumstances). Targets for improved attendance will be set (see Appendix 5). RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 23

24 The employee will be advised that their employment is at risk ( EAR ) and failure to reduce their level of sickness absence will result in them moving to Stage 3 of the procedure where the decision to dismiss may be made. In all cases the Headteacher/Manager will keep a record of the Stage 2 Review. A copy will be placed on the employee's personnel file, but will be disregarded for the purposes of this procedure after satisfactory attendance, which will not exceed one year. If the level of sickness absence is satisfactory at the end of the Stage 2 monitoring period the employee will be advised in writing and reminded of the need to sustain their level of improvement and that their attendance will continue to be monitored. If it is not satisfactory Stage 3 will be reached. There is a right of appeal against the decision to advise employees that their employment is at risk at this stage (see Appendix 7). RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 24

25 6.4 Stage 3: Intermittent Absences caused by unconnected illnesses Stage 3 is reached when: The employee's sickness absence level fails to improve to meet the targets set at Stage 2. Or The initial improvement achieved at the end of the monitoring period at Stage 2 has not been sustained. In these circumstances the employee must be referred to the Medical Adviser for a report to be provided to the Headteacher/Manager (see Appendix 4). In the light of the medical report, which should normally be no more than 6 weeks old, a decision will be made on how to proceed. Options may include: Consideration of any recommendations the Medical Adviser may make in relation to reasonable adjustments, redeployment or ill health retirement No further action at this time, but continued monitoring of attendance levels. A further meeting being arranged by the Headteacher/Governors, at an appropriate time(normally within 2-3 months), to consider dismissal on absence grounds (see Appendix 8). The meeting at Stage 3 can be chaired by the Headteacher, if they have delegated responsibility to dismiss. Where the Headteacher does not have delegated responsibility to dismiss the meeting will be chaired by a Panel of Governors (Appendix 1). If dismissed an employee s appeal rights will be in accordance with Appendix Chronic/ Long-Term Sickness or Intermittent Absences caused by an underlying medical condition The case of an employee on continuous chronic/long-term sickness absence should be regularly reviewed and be approached in a sensitive yet practical way. Absences for chronic/long-term sickness may be due to a disability and will require special consideration (see Appendix 3). RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 25

26 The potential for chronic/ long-term sickness absence may well be identified at Stage 1 when the case is reviewed after 9 working days continuous sickness absence having occurred. Where an employee s sickness absence has reached 20 working days (see clause for part-time employees) in a 12 month period then at an appropriate stage, but normally within 2-3 months, the Headteacher/Manager shall make an assessment of the position based on the following factors: The nature of the illness and any medical information available. The likely length of the continuing absence. The need for the employee to carry out their work, for which they are engaged. Any other relevant circumstances, e.g. domestic violence must be treated with appropriate sensitivity. Whether the School/Department can continue to cope with the employee s absence and, if so, for how much longer? In order to come to a reasonable decision on the merits of the case the Headteacher/Manager will need to have information about the medical prognosis. This will require the employee to be referred to the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser for assessment. On receipt of the medical assessment a copy will be sent to the employee. The case will then be reviewed in light of the medical information, the ongoing impact on service delivery and other factors set out above. The employee will be required to meet with the Headteacher/Manager to discuss the situation and any options that may be available, for example: Any adjustments that can be made to job duties/hours/etc., or other support if the employee can return to work. Any recommendation from the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser of redeployment. Any recommendation from the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser of ill-health retirement. Any phased return (see Appendix 10) to work where this is supported by medical advice or is appropriate in the Headteacher s/manager s opinion for a substantial reason. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 26

27 It is important at this stage that the employee understands the serious concern, which exists about the length of sickness absence and is given reasonable opportunity to discuss with the Headteacher/Manager any factors or personal circumstances, which they would like taken into account in the overall assessment. If the Headteacher/Manager decides, in light of all the information, that it is not reasonably practicable to wait any longer for the employee to return, a letter will be sent advising the employee that their employment is at risk and failure to reduce their level of sickness absence will result in the decision to dismiss being considered at a formal meeting. The EAR letter will be placed on the employee s file, but will be disregarded for the purposes of this procedure after a satisfactory period of attendance, which will not exceed 3 years. There is a right of appeal against the decision to advise employees that their employment is at risk at this stage (see Appendix 7). The Headteacher/Governors will arrange a further meeting at an appropriate time (normally within 2-3 months), to consider dismissal on absence grounds (see Appendix 8). The meeting at Stage 3 can be chaired by the Headteacher, if they have delegated responsibility to dismiss. Where the Headteacher does not have delegated responsibility to dismiss the meeting will be chaired by a Panel of Governors. If dismissed an employee s appeal rights will be in accordance with Appendix 9. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 27

28 7.0 Other related issues 7.1 Sick Pay The Royal Borough operates a sick pay scheme in accordance with the provisions of the National Agreements. Nothing in that scheme prevents the School/Royal Borough from considering terminating an employee s service due to sickness absence prior to an employee exhausting their entitlements. Any decision to terminate an employee s service prior to sick pay entitlements being exhausted will need to take into account the overall fairness. 7.2 Ill Health Retirement/Redeployment/Pension The action to be taken in the event that medical advice recommends ill health retirement, or redeployment, is set out at Appendix 12 together with the employee s entitlements in these circumstances. 7.3 Absence due to Pregnancy This procedure does not apply to sickness absence as a consequence of pregnancy, from the time of conception up to the conclusion of the statutory/contractual maternity leave period. Sickness absence that occurs after that period is covered by this procedure and should be managed accordingly. Employees are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care. 7.4 Industrial Injury The Royal Borough operates a separate Industrial Injury Scheme. Where the Headteacher/Manager believes that an employee's level of industrial injury absence gives rise to managerial concern action should be taken in accordance with the principles of this procedure. Absences due to sickness and industrial injury are separate for pay purposes. They must be recorded as one or the other and the employee will be entitled to either sick pay or industrial injury pay, not both. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 28

29 7.5 Probationers/ Other Employees with less than 26 Weeks Service During the period of probation an employee s work performance and conduct are assessed, in order that a decision may be taken concerning the employee s suitability for permanent employment. One of these considerations is the employee s attendance record, and it should be clearly understood that there is nothing improper about terminating an employee during his/her probationary period because of unsatisfactory attendance record. Equally it should be appreciated that there is nothing unlawful in terminating an employee s employment whilst he/ she is on sick leave. Obviously the Headteacher/Manager must ensure that the dismissal is fair and that all of the procedures for probationary periods have been observed. Similarly, the Headteacher/Manager must examine each case in the round and ensure that they are not being excessively harsh. In particular, the manager will have regard to the nature and frequency of the illness. The Headteacher/Manager, where appropriate, should consult Schools HR where dismissal is being considered. 7.6 Employees who in the School s opinion are unfit to work due to sickness The School has a duty under Health and Safety legislation to take appropriate action where there is a belief that an employee is unfit to work. If the Headteacher/Manager believes that an employee is unfit to work they will first discuss the matter with the employee and encourage them to absent themselves on the grounds of sickness and to seek medical advice if appropriate. If an employee refuses then they should be placed on medical suspension and arrangements should be made for the employee to be interviewed or examined urgently by the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser. If the Medical Adviser, or the employee s own Medical Adviser confirms that the employee is unfit then the period of absence will be treated as sickness. If the advice of the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser conflicts significantly with the opinion of the employee s own Medical Adviser then the employee should be interviewed or examined by an independent Medical Referee (see Appendix 4). If the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser does not confirm that the employee is unfit then the period of absence will be regarded as special leave. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 29

30 7.7 Absence for Medical/Dental and Cancer Screening appointments Time off for Medical/Dental and Cancer screening appointments Staff attending medical appointments (doctor, dentist, optician, hospital etc) should normally do so in their own time. In some cases, it is difficult to arrange appointments outside normal working hours and is therefore reasonable in such cases to allow time off work, subject to service considerations. Where possible, staff should make appointments at times that minimises disruption to service delivery e.g. taking time off at either the beginning or end of your normal working day or during the lunch period, using flexi-leave, TOIL or annual leave. In exceptional circumstances where an employee requires urgent treatment and has no choice about when an appointment can be made, paid time off may be given and this will be recorded as medical appointment under the sickness absence reporting arrangements. Staff requesting time off may be required by their manager to produce an appointment document confirming details of the appointment. Pregnant employees have the right to paid time off for antenatal care appointments; see maternity policy for further information. Treatment for Underlying Medical Conditions For staff who need to undergo regular treatment for an underlying medical condition, appointments during working hours should be accounted for as above (see below for employees with disabilities). In some cases a temporary adjustment of the employee s contractual hours may be appropriate. Each case will be treated on its merits and much will depend on the individual circumstances and the nature of the treatment. Arrangements should be discussed and agreed, in advance between the individual and his/her line manager. Cancer Screening Employees are entitled to paid time off for cancer screening. In the event that cancer is diagnosed absence will be monitored in accordance with the sickness procedure. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 30

31 Employees with Disabilities Same rules apply as above however, as defined by the Equality Act 2010 paid time off for medical appointments linked to their disability will be treated as a reasonable adjustment and monitored in accordance with the sickness procedure. This may be taken into consideration when taking action, if appointments are frequent, ongoing and /or are having an impact on the service. Accurate recording and monitoring record as medical appointments where paid time off is granted is essential not only in terms of good management practice but also in demonstrating reasonable adjustments taken in respect of disabled employees. 7.8 Dealing with Specific Situations Low Volume Sickness in Association with Domestic or Behavioural Problems When the Headteacher/Manager becomes aware that an individual is experiencing particular domestic or behavioural problems, consideration should be given to whether any assistance can be offered to the employee. For example, a person s domestic problems may be alleviated by a temporary (or permanent) adjustment to working hours, temporary relocation etc where this is practicable and possible. Behavioural problems at work may include poor performance, changes in personality, irritability, slurred speech, impaired concentration and memory, deterioration in personal hygiene, anxiety and depression. These may be indicative that the employee has a special health problem (such as those possibly associated with alcohol, drug abuse or mental illness), and consideration should be given to introducing measure to help the employees and encourage them to seek treatment. The Headteacher/Manager may wish to discuss the details of the case with Schools HR Team before taking action. Where a Headteacher/Manager thinks that sickness absence may be due to the employee experiencing domestic violence it is essential that the issue is treated with sensitivity. The Headteacher/Manager should be aware of the sources of advice and support available to people experiencing domestic violence and should give the employee the opportunity of talking with someone who is able to provide specialist support and provide details of the Royal Borough s Employment Assistant Programme. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 31

32 7.8.2 Absence due to Alcohol or Drug Abuse Where a Headteacher/Manager thinks that sickness absence may be due to alcohol or drug related problems, it is essential that the issue is tackled in a sensitive and supportive way. The Headteacher/Manager may wish to consult Schools HR Team before an approach is made to the employee and there may be a need to liaise with the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser to seek advice about expert counselling. Attention is drawn to the Royal Borough s Workplace Alcohol Policy which can be provided by Human Resources Absence as a Consequence of the Working Environment Where a Headteacher/Manager believes that employee absence is related to the working environment then he/she may wish to discuss, where appropriate, the issue with Schools HR Team in the first instance and seek assistance from the Medical Adviser if appropriate. This includes absences related to changes at work, volume, changes to responsibilities, working practices etc. The control of work related ill-health is an essential part of sickness absence management and the provision of a healthy and safe working environment is not only necessary to comply with the law but is also essential in contributing to an efficient and economic workforce by ensuring their health and safety (refer to paragraph 1.3 about prevention). The working environment should not only be considered in terms of physical aspects but also in terms of organisational influences as well. Factors such as poor management, role ambiguity, work overload and unsatisfactory arrangements for hours of work and shifts can all be detrimental to the health of the workforce and will therefore have an adverse effect on efficiency. It is essential that any evidence of work-related ill-health is investigated fully and that any necessary remedial action is taken. Failure to do so could lead to School/Royal Borough and individual employees (including managers) being prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act. RBG/T/WHOLESCHOOLPOLICIES/SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE 32

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