Procedure for Managing Sickness Absence and Promoting Attendance for Teachers and Associated Professionals

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1 1 Procedure for Managing Sickness Absence and Promoting Attendance for Teachers and Associated Professionals December 2013

2 2 Contents Pages Introduction and Dundee City Council Corporate Policy 3-4 Absence Reporting Procedure 5-6 Procedure for Managing Teaching Staff Absence 7-10 Phased Return to Work 11 Appendix 1 - Management Level Responsibilities 12 Appendix 2 - Absence Notification Form 13 Appendix 3 Stress Discussion Document Appendix 4 Procedure for Retention and Redeployment (Medical Reasons) 16-17

3 3 INTRODUCTION Dundee City Council is concerned for the well-being of all its employees. It recognises that on occasions, employees will be absent from work due to illness, however, it wishes to encourage and support a sense of commitment in every employee, leading to improved attendance patterns and a reduction in sickness absence costs. A healthy workforce and working environment are essential to achieving higher levels of attendance and providing high quality services. The Council is therefore committed to developing occupational health other related services, and to promoting health at work, as measures to improve attendance levels. In this regard, there are a number of other Council policies which are complementary to the Council s wider approach to promoting health at work and these include the Health and Safety Policies and the Policy on Managing Stress in the Workplace. The Council recognises that depending on the nature of the health condition and/or absence, early intervention can be effective in promoting improved health and attendance. In the case of illness resulting from a disability, reasonable adjustments will be made where appropriate to support and facilitate an employee s attendance at work, in accordance with relevant equality legislation. Council Policy - To monitor and control sickness absence in a consistent and equitable manner and ensure that all employees are treated sympathetically and fairly; - To minimise any effect such absence levels may have on service standards; - To minimise any effect such absence levels may have on other employees at work; - To ensure that employees and management operate within the agreed procedures for reporting, recording, monitoring and, where appropriate, taking action on sickness absence. Management Responsibilities - To maintain effective procedures for sickness absence management, including the reporting, monitoring and control of all employees' sickness absence, and to ensure employees are aware of procedures adopted; - To ensure all employees are aware of their responsibilities and the consequences of not complying with the procedure for managing sickness absence: - To ensure that working methods, procedures and workload do not cause employees sickness, injury or undue stress; - To ensure that all sickness absence is recorded promptly and accurately; - To maintain regular communication with all employees who are absent on long term sick leave and provide appropriate support; - To positively and constructively support and enable employees to return to work; - To address concerns with all employees where necessary, regarding their ability to fulfil the duties of the post; - To explore with all employees what tasks they are capable of undertaking taking account of factors such as disability, in order to consider reasonable adjustments to the post in order to facilitate an early return;

4 4 - To provide supervisors and managers with appropriate training in relation to their roles in the procedures adopted; - To acknowledge good attendance. Employee Responsibilities - To maintain good attendance at work; - To co-operate fully with the terms of the procedure for managing absence including attendance at occupational health and other services that provide support to the Council and its employees; - To advise their line manager of any reason which may affect their ability to undertake the duties of their post to a satisfactory level; - To follow the sickness absence reporting procedure; - To ensure that medical advice and treatment, where appropriate, is received and followed in order to facilitate a return to work; - To be responsible for ensuring that, so far as is reasonably possible, they protect themselves and other employees from the risk of infection, injury or undue stress whilst at work; - To co-operate with measures to ensure promotion of good health and the minimisation of sickness and absence levels. - To consider and discuss with manager what tasks they are capable of, to allow the manager to explore reasonable adjustments to their post in order to facilitate an early return to work in conjunction with advice from occupational health. Role of Human Resources - To provide support and guidance to managers and employees in dealing with sickness absence and other health related matters; - Arrange referrals to occupational health, counselling and physiotherapy services, where applicable. - Provide training to managers on managing absence and dealing with stress. This procedure for teachers and associated professionals mirrors the corporate policy and takes account of the teaching conditions of service and management structures. Responsibilities for each level of management and at each stage of the procedure can be found at Appendix 1.

5 5 Absence Reporting Procedure In the event of sickness absence, you must report your inability to attend work in accordance with the following procedure. Please note that 'line manager' may include any other person identified as a contact by management and can refer to Head Teacher, Head of Service, Principal Officer, Business Manager etc. On the first day of absence - notify your line manager as soon as is practicable, but preferably before school begins and advise of reasons for and estimated length of absence. If sickness begins on a non-working day, notification should be as soon as practicable, but preferably before the start of the next school working day. If sickness absence continues beyond one day and up to seven days, you are required to notify your line manager, as above, on every working day unless an alternative arrangement is agreed with your line manager. On return to work after up to seven days of absence - the administrative documentation for recording your absence will be made available to you electronically. This should be completed prior to, or during your return to work discussion with your line manager. (see Appendix 2). If sickness absence continues for eight days or more - by no later than the eighth day, obtain a Statement of Fitness for Work from your GP, which should be forwarded to your line manager as quickly as possible. Submit further Statements of Fitness for Work to cover any continued absence. In addition, where the illness extends beyond seven days, you should notify the line manager/office of the position at that time, and thereafter at intervals of no more than 14 days unless an alternative arrangement is agreed with your line manager. Upon return to work, a return to work discussion will take place with your line manager with any outstanding documentation being completed prior to or during this discussion taking place. NOTE 1 All seven days of the week count when calculating sickness absence for payment purposes, including non working days, e.g. if the first day of sickness absence is Friday, the fourth day will be the following Monday. 2 Failure to comply with the requirements for reporting may result in the cessation of sickness allowance and disciplinary action. If sick during a period of annual leave (BEING REVIEWED BY SNCT) If you fall sick during a period of annual leave you must report the sickness to the Corporate Business Support Service (CBSS) on (01382) and submit a GP's Statement of Fitness for Work to the Line Manager or directly to CBSS, by the earliest practicable date. The period of sickness absence will be treated as sick leave and the appropriate number of compensatory leave days will be allocated on the teacher's return to work, in line with the SNCT agreement as detailed below: Where a teacher or music instructor, owing to certified sickness, has been incapacitated for a continuous period where at least 4 weeks fall within the summer vacation, the employee will accrue credit of 2 days compensatory leave entitlement for each complete week of the vacation which has been lost. A certified sickness absence of at least 2 weeks duration, incorporating at least 1 week of any other vacation, will accrue credit of 2 days of

6 6 compensatory leave entitlement for each full week of vacation lost. For the purpose of this paragraph, a week is defined as 7 consecutive days. A maximum credit of 10 such days compensatory leave entitlement may be accrued in any one leave year, but any such days are not in addition to statutory leave, as described below. In agreement with the council, this compensatory leave entitlement shall be taken by the employee following his/her return to work. The timing of this leave is subject to the overriding needs of the service and should normally be taken in the term in which the return to work takes place or within the following term. Where a teacher or music instructor, owing to certified sickness, has not taken the statutory leave provision, which will be deemed to include any compensatory leave as described above, within a leave year, he/she shall receive the appropriate balance of leave to bring his/her total leave to the statutory leave provision for that leave year, up to a maximum of 28 days. Pro rata arrangements shall apply to part time staff and those employed for any part of the leave year. For clarification purposes, definitions of statutory and compensatory leave are as follows: Statutory leave - all employees have an annual entitlement of 28 days statutory leave, even if they have been absent from work due to sickness. Compensatory leave - compensatory leave must be provided to a teacher or associated professional for leave arising from sickness during periods of school vacation. Any compensatory leave days provided will not be in addition to the 28 days statutory leave. Finance payroll staff will remind teachers of this entitlement. More information on this topic can be found in the SNCT Handbook, Part 2, Section 6:

7 7 Procedure for Managing Teaching Staff Absence 1. PROCEDURE 1.1 The absence record of all employees will be monitored and assessed on a continuous basis. 1.2 An employee will have a return to work discussion with a Line Manager on return to work after each sickness absence, to ensure that:- i) the employee is fit to return; ii) iii) the appropriate certification forms are completed/submitted; the employee is advised of what has been happening in the workplace during their absence. Return to work discussions should be conducted face to face. However, in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to conduct the return to work discussion by telephone e.g. where the manager is responsible for multiple locations. 1.3 An assessment of an employee's absence record, will determine whether the absence record is short term, long term or a combination of both and will be dealt with thereafter in accordance with the appropriate guidance detailed in the procedure. 1.4 A period of monitoring will be effective from the date the employee returned to work the absence which led to his/her absence level hitting a trigger for action. 2 SHORT TERM ABSENCE 2.1 An employee will be called to a formal interview to discuss his/her absence record:- i) when the employee has been absent on 3 or more separate occasions, or for a total of 6 working days, over a rolling 6 month period; ii) when the employee has been absent on 4 or more separate occasions, or for a total of 10 working days, over a rolling 12 month period. 2.2 An employee will be given sufficient notice, in writing, of a formal interview and informed of his/her right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague at the interview. Failure by an employee to attend an interview and/or agree to be referred to occupational health services may result in disciplinary action being taken, resulting in suspension of entitlement to sickness allowance. 2.3 A formal interview will:- i) establish any underlying trends, the frequency of, and reason(s) for absence, and possible options to improve the level of absence; ii) inform the employee that the absence record has hit a trigger, as detailed in paragraph 2.1, and is having an impact upon the efficient and effective operation of the service;

8 8 iii) advise the employee that his/her absence is subject to a period of monitoring for a period of 6 or 12 months. A longer period of monitoring may be considered where appropriate. Where appropriate, the interview may be adjourned to enable the employee to be referred to occupational health services, to determine whether there is an underlying medical condition and seek appropriate occupational health advice. 2.4 Should absence not improve to a satisfactory level and hit a further trigger within the period of monitoring, a second interview will be arranged. The employee's absence record over a number of years may be considered at this stage. This interview will follow the same format as the first interview and may result in either:- i) the employee's absence being subject to a further period of monitoring (a maximum of 2 successive periods of monitoring may be put in place); Should absence not improve to a satisfactory level and hit a further trigger during a second period of monitoring, another formal interview will be arranged and will result in a referral to the appropriate Manager/Head of Education for consideration of one further and final opportunity for his/her absence record to improve to a satisfactory level. In this situation, the employee's absence record will be monitored over a period of 12 months and they will be advised that, if no such improvement is forthcoming, dismissal will be considered. The employee will have the right of appeal against a final opportunity for improvement. or:- ii) the employee being referred to a Manager/Head of Education for consideration of one further and final opportunity for his/her absence record to improve to a satisfactory level. In this situation, the employee's absence record will be monitored over a period of 12 months and they will be advised that, if no such improvement is forthcoming, dismissal will be considered. The employee will have the right of appeal against a final opportunity for improvement. 2.6 Where absence has not been of a satisfactory level over a number of years or hits a trigger following conclusion of a period of monitoring, the employee may be referred to a Manager/Head of Education for consideration of one further and final opportunity for his/her absence record to improve to a satisfactory level. The employee's absence record over a number of years may be considered at this stage. The employee's absence record will be monitored over a period of 12 months and they will be advised that, if no such improvement is forthcoming, dismissal will be considered. The employee will have the right of appeal against a final opportunity for improvement 2.7 Should the absence record not improve to a satisfactory level and hit a further trigger following a final opportunity for improvement, a further hearing will be arranged. This hearing may be chaired by the Director of Education, or Head of Education, and may result in the dismissal of the employee. The employee will have the right of appeal against such a decision to the Personnel Appeals Sub-Committee. Prior to any decision to dismiss, consideration will be given, if it has not already occurred earlier within the procedure, to referring the employee to occupational health services.

9 9 3 LONG TERM ABSENCE 3.1 Where possible an employee will be called to a formal interview to discuss his/her absence, when he/she has been absent for a continuous period of 4 weeks or more. However, consideration will be given to earlier intervention, including referral to occupational health services, where appropriate, to facilitate an early return to work, e.g. where an employee is absent due to work related stress. If is recommended that a referral is made to occupational health services no later than 4 weeks and earlier if deemed beneficial where an employee is absent due to a musculoskeletal condition. 3.2 An employee will be given sufficient notice, in writing, of a formal interview and informed of his/her right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague at the interview. Failure by an employee to attend an interview and/or agree to be referred to occupational health services may result in disciplinary action being taken resulting in suspension of entitlement to sickness allowance. 3.3 A formal interview will aim to:- i) seek to establish/confirm the reason(s) for absence and its likely duration; ii) inform the employee that their absence record has hit a trigger, as detailed in paragraph 3.1, and is having an impact upon the efficient and effective operation of the service; and of the employer's responsibility to ensure the employee is capable of doing the job and/or that the work is not detrimental to the employee's health. 3.4 The interview, which may be continued following receipt of occupational health/gp advice, discussion with management/hr and may take place following the employee's return to work, can result in:- i) consideration of a phased return to work; ii) consideration of seeking alternative employment; iii) consideration of reasonable adjustments; iv) deferral of a decision pending a further review within a given timescale; v) the employee's attendance and any necessary adjustments being subject to a period of monitoring for an appropriate length of time; vi) redeployment to another suitable post (refer to Appendix 4 - Retention and Redeployment Procedure (Medical Reasons)); vi) the ill health retiral of the employee (for teaching staff this is likely to be dealt with by the employee, their GP and the Scottish Public Pensions Agency); However, these options may not always be appropriate. Where appropriate the interview may be adjourned to allow the employee to be referred to occupational health services, to establish the likely length of absence and the long term effect on capability in relation to job performance and attendance at work.

10 Should the employee's absence continue, further options may include the employee being referred to senior Education Department management with the recommendation that they are issued with a final opportunity to return to work and improve their attendance. A hearing will be called and if a final opportunity is issued, the employee will be given the right of appeal against this decision. This hearing may be chaired by an appropriate Manager/Head of Education or the Director of Education. 3.6 Should the absence record not improve to a satisfactory level and hit a further trigger following the issue of a final opportunity to return to work and improve attendance, a further hearing will be arranged. This hearing may be chaired by the Director of Education, or a Head of Education, and may result in the dismissal of the employee. The employee will have the right of appeal against such a decision to the Personnel Appeals Sub-Committee. Prior to any decision to dismiss, consideration will be given, if it has not already occurred earlier within the procedure, to referring the employee to occupational health services. 3.7 Where the assessment of the employee s record shows a combination of short term and a long term absence, which is not of a satisfactory level, a formal interview may be held. 3.8 The Stress Discussion Document (see Appendix 3) may be used by an employee to assist in identifying the cause of their stress and provides a basis for discussion with the manager regarding the type of support that may be required. This is optional and the completed form is not shared with the manager or any other party unless the employee so chooses. 3.9 Appeals Against Decisions In all cases, an employee is entitled to appeal against the decision to dismiss him/her or against a final opportunity to improve or date to return to work. An appeal must be lodged in writing with the Director of Education/Chief Executive within 14 days of receipt of the letter which confirms the decision to dismiss; or gives a final opportunity to improve/date to return to work. GOING ON HOLIDAY DURING SICK LEAVE As employees who are absent from work due to sickness are required to be available to attend meetings, provide information and a point of contact, an employee who is on sick leave, but is able to and wishes to go away on holiday (possibly booked before the sickness), should inform his/her line manager and obtain approval. In some circumstances, the manager may require confirmation from the employee's GP or from occupational health that the proposed holiday and travel arrangements will not have a detrimental effect on their recovery. PHASED RETURN TO WORK It is recognised that following a period of prolonged absence, it is often difficult to return to work on a full-time basis. A phased return to work is often recommended by either the GP on the Statement of Fitness for Work or by occupational health services. The process must

11 11 however be agreed between the employee, their manager and an HR Officer. The period of phased return will not be regarded as sick leave. Payment The amount paid to an employee during this phased return will depend upon their current entitlement to sickness allowance - If still entitled to full pay, the employee will receive full pay; If only entitled to half pay, the employee will receive at least half pay and in addition will receive payment for any additional hours worked; If the employee has exhausted their entitlement to sickness allowance, they will receive payment for the actual hours worked. NOTE 1 - Any outstanding entitlement to annual leave accrued during the period of sick leave must be used during any period of phased return when an employee has been receiving half or nil pay prior to their return to work. If an employee has been receiving full pay prior to their return to work then the timing of annual leave must be agreed between the employee and their line manager, subject to the exigencies of the service. NOTE 2 - The payment received by an employee during a phased return to work must be at least the amount being received whilst on sick leave, e.g. if on half pay - the employee will have received half normal pay plus SSP or incapacity benefit payments, therefore, the Council must pay at least this amount. The employee must be no worse off by agreeing to a phased return to work. NOTE 3 - During the phased return to work period, an employee will accrue entitlement to sickness allowance. Timescales for phased return The maximum timescale for a phased return is generally no longer than 8 weeks. However, where an employee is still incapable of returning to full-time hours at the end of the agreed period, in conjunction with occupational health, a further period of reduced hours with the appropriate payment for those hours, may be an option. This should be reviewed regularly until a permanent solution has been reached.

12 12 Appendix 1 Management Level Responsibilities Nature of Meeting Held by Appeal Heard By Return to work discussion Principal Teacher Depute Head Teacher Head Teacher Education Manager Head of Education N/A Initial interview - first absence monitoring period Depute Head Teacher Head Teacher Education Manager Head of Education N/A Further interview - second absence monitoring period Depute Head Teacher Head Teacher Education Manager Head of Education N/A Meeting to advise employee of referral to Manager/Head of Service with the recommendation of a final opportunity Issue of a final opportunity to return to work and/or improve attendance Dismissal Depute Head Teacher Head Teacher Head of Education Director of Education Education Manager Head of Education Head of Education Director of Education N/A Head of Education Director of Education Personnel Appeals Sub-Committee

13 Appendix 2 13

14 14 Appendix 3 STRESS DISCUSSION DOCUMENT Are You Experiencing Stress At Work? 1 Do you find it increasingly difficult to get your work finished on time? 2 Are you finding that the standard of your work is falling? 3 Are you clear about your areas of responsibility? 4 Do you get on with your boss? 5 Do you get on with most of your colleagues? 6 Are you confident when dealing with other people? 7 Do you get support from your boss and/or colleagues when you need it? 8 Do you get sufficient feedback on your work? 9 Do you often have to take work home? 10 Are you feeling increasingly frustrated at work? 11 Are you finding it difficult to take your annual leave? 12 Are you finding yourself avoiding potentially difficult situations? 13 Are there any issues outside work that are causing you stress? 14 Do you wish to discuss these issues? Yes No

15 15 Potential Occupational Factors Workload 1 Do you have about the right amount of work to do? 2 Can you complete your work in the time available? 3 Can you meet deadlines? 4 Can you take short breaks at work? 5 Do you have enough variety in your work? Feelings at Work 1 Do you feel that your work is worthwhile? 2 Do you feel involved in your work? 3 Do you feel that others value and appreciate your work? 4 Can you do your work the way you want to? Workplace 1 Do you have sufficient space to work in? 2 Is your workplace quiet enough? 3 Is your workplace well cared for? 4 Is your workplace conductive to the sort of work you have to do in it? 5 Do you have sufficient privacy in your workplace? 6 Do you have a place you can call your own at work? Colleagues 1 Do you enjoy working with most of your colleagues? 2 Can you discuss work problems with them? 3 Do they help and support you when you need it? 4 Are your colleagues sensitive to issues of sexism and racism? Supervisor/boss 1 Does your supervisor/boss help you when you need it? 2 Do they give you clear feedback about the quality of your work? 3 Do they praise you when you ve done something well? 4 Do they give you constructive criticism about your work? 5 Do they help you to do your job better? Role within your organisation 1 Are you clear about what is expected of you at work? 2 Do you have a job description? 3 Do the people with whom you come into contact understand your job and accept the way you do it? 4 Do you have the right amount of responsibility for your skills? 5 Do you have the opportunity to develop and improve your skills? 6 Do you have good promotion prospects? 7 Is your job secure? 8 Are you kept well informed about any changes in your job? 9 Do you have the resources to do your job properly? 10 Are you paid fairly for the job? Yes No

16 16 Appendix 4 PROCEDURE FOR RETENTION AND REDEPLOYMENT (MEDICAL REASONS) INTRODUCTION The following procedure reflects good management practice and complies with the requirements of the Equality Act It outlines the steps to be taken to retain or redeploy employees where the Council s Medical Adviser has advised that:- the employee is either temporarily or permanently unfit to carry out the current duties and responsibilities of the post; consideration should be given to possible adjustments to the post; consideration should be given to suitable alternative employment. The appropriate Human Resources Team must be made aware of the situation and advice sought at the earliest opportunity. The Employment Support Services may also be involved as appropriate and, in any case, should be regarded as a valuable source of information and assistance throughout the procedure. PROCEDURE 1 Meet with the Employee When medical advice and/or any other relevant information becomes available, the manager will arrange a meeting with the employee, who may be accompanied by a trade union representative. A Human Resources Officer will also be in attendance. It is likely that this meeting will be convened as part of the sickness absence procedure, however, this will not always be the case. At this meeting:- discuss the medical information and advice received from the Council's Medical Adviser explore options explain process/procedure to be followed. 2 Options/Outcomes 2.1 Retention in Current Post Every effort will be made to rehabilitate and retain an employee in his/her current post. Whilst it is not possible to cover every aspect the following are some of the adjustments that could be made to retain an employee taking account of advice from the Council's Medical Adviser:- a) adjustments to the premises b) allocating some duties to another person (in consultation with other employees) c) altering the hours of work d) purchasing or modification of equipment e) utilisation of the Government s Workchoice Programme f) where Occupational Health has stated that an employee is temporarily unfit to undertake his/her duties however will be fit in 3 months, consideration may be given to alternative duties required by the service.

17 Redeployment into a Suitable Vacancy If retention in the current post is not appropriate redeployment to an alternative suitable post will be considered. The employee's line manager will be responsible for leading the redeployment process, assisted by a Human Resources Officer. The Human Resources Officer will include the employee in the Skills Register. All temporary and permanent vacancies will be considered for employees in the Skills Register in the first instance. A Human Resources Officer will carry out a preliminary matching exercise against employees in the Skills Register. The employee must meet the essential criteria for the post and consideration must be given to reasonable adjustments, where necessary. Wherever possible posts with a similar job/grade will be identified. However, this may not be possible due to the availability of suitable posts that meet the requirements in relation to medical restriction, skills and experience of the employee. Whilst an employee will not be redeployed into a higher graded post, they may apply for any Council vacancy. Where a vacancy has been identified and the employee meets the essential requirements for the post, further advice may be sought from the Council's Medical Adviser regarding the suitability of the vacant post if necessary. Where the post is suitable for more than one employee in the Skills Register, selection will be my means of competitive interview unless the employee has a disability. In situations where a permanent vacancy is not identified consideration may be given to fixedterm vacancies. In this situation the employee would be subject to fixed-term conditions of service. Where appropriate the Department will arrange a trial placement for the employee in the identified vacancy. The placement can be full-time or part-time and the trial period will normally last for up to 6 weeks. Payment will be at the employee's normal rate/salary for the hours worked or an amount equal to the appropriate sickness allowance, whichever is the greater. The employee will receive a letter confirming the terms of the placement (e.g. pay, duration, review periods, etc). At the end of the placement a meeting will be held to conclude the matter appropriately. If the placement is successful the employee will transfer to the new post and receive the appropriate rate of payment for the post. Redeployment opportunities will be sought, however, if none become available and the employee continues to be absent the absence will continue to be managed. Wherever possible one suitable redeployment opportunity will be offered. Should a trial placement be unsuccessful a further redeployment opportunity may be identified. 2.3 Retention and Redeployment Unsuccessful If all efforts are unsuccessful, the position will be reviewed with all parties concerned. The employee will continue to be managed in accordance with the Council s Sickness Absence Procedure and may be retired on the grounds of ill health or dismissed on the grounds of capability. The employee will have the right of appeal against such a decision.

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