CYRIL JACKSON PRIMARY SCHOOL STAFF SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY

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1 CYRIL JACKSON PRIMARY SCHOOL STAFF SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY VISION: Cyril Jackson is a safe and stimulating environment where children encounter challenging and creative learning experiences. Each member of the school community is motivated to be a life-long learner. We will equip everyone with the skills to achieve their full potential in a climate of mutual respect and personal responsibility. STATEMENT OF AIMS: To provide a supportive, stimulating environment in which each child is enabled and encouraged to attain the highest standard of achievement of which he or she is capable. To ensure that the curriculum is broad and well balanced following all subjects in the National Curriculum. To value each individual s contribution irrespective of race, gender, religion or ability. To encourage children to be aware of their behaviour and how it affects other people. To recognise that children have a variety of special needs and endeavour to provide appropriately for the needs of individuals. To ensure that the curriculum reflects the richness of our multi-cultural society. To foster and build on relationships with parents, governors and the wider community. To provide a planned process of staff development. Staff Sickness Absence Policy Reviewed September 2012 Due to be reviewed September 2013

2 Sickness Management Procedure EDUCATION DIRECTORATE SCHOOLS 1. Scope of the Procedure 1.1 This procedure applies to all teaching and support staff employed in schools under the control of governing bodies who are: Permanently employed and not subject to a probationary period. Employed on a fixed term basis and have more than 1 year s service Probationary staff and those who are employed on a fixed term basis who have less than 1 year s service will be required to follow the procedure for reporting sickness absence as set out in this document. However the continuance of their contract will be reviewed in the light of their actual attendance, with advice from the LEA Human Resources Section. 2. Aims of the Procedure 2.1 This is an agreed procedure, which is primarily intended to support staff whilst enabling managers to manage the sickness absences of those staff in a way which is fair and consistent and adheres to employment and education legislation. 3. Equal Opportunities Considerations There are equalities implications involved when any employment procedure is applied. Application of the sickness management procedure has particular implications for the multi-cultural workforce employed by Tower Hamlets LEA. Headteachers should ensure that they assess the situation across the group of employees before they embark on any action relating to an employee s sickness absence. It is important for example that no-one person is singled out if other colleagues have a similar sickness record. Sickness absence patterns should be monitored to identify problems in particular areas or in specific occupations with a view to examine possible causes and seek solutions. Page 2

3 In order to establish whether any single person or group of employees is being treated less favourably than others under this procedure it is important that all action taken is monitored. If details are not already available, employees may be asked to provide information (e.g. about their ethnic origin) to enable the LEA to review the impact of this procedure. There are a number of conditions which affect particular groups within the workforce, e.g., menstrual problems, cervical and breast cancer, sickle cell, thalassaemia and HIV/AIDS. Where sickness occurs the Headteacher must consider relevant equalities issues. If there is a problem around the level of absence in such cases it will be appropriate to seek advice from Occupational Health or Human Resources. 4. Disability Discrimination Act Headteachers should be alert to the possibility that sickness absence may amount to a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act Where this is a possibility, particular care should be taken to seek specialist advice (e.g. from Occupational Health and Human Resources) and to consider any reasonable adjustments to the individual s working systems/environment that may be appropriate. 5. Terminal Illness Where an employee is suffering from a terminal illness the following factors need to be taken into account: the benefits available for the relatives upon death of the employee may be substantially more if the employee remains employed by the Council until the time of death; people are affected differently by the knowledge that they are terminally ill. Some may wish to continue working for as long as they are able, while others may find it impossible to remain at work. The employee s actual ability to carry out work must however be taken into account with the benefit of medical opinion. management will need to demonstrate sympathy and sensitivity to the employee s situation and will make every attempt to apply the sickness procedure in the light of the individual s circumstances. Human Resources guidance should be sought at this stage. Page 3

4 6. Health and Safety Obligations The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of their staff so far as is reasonably practicable. Additionally, the management of Health and Safety Regulations 1992 impose the duty on every employer to conduct a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk involved in each job. Advice on conducting Risk Assessments is available from Corporate Safety and Civil Protection (based at Mulberry Place). 7. Confidentiality When managing an employee s sickness absence, the need to maintain confidentiality is of paramount importance. All staff have a personal responsibility for ensuring that information they receive is kept confidential, whether it is written or verbal, and whether it is received directly or indirectly. It should be noted that in some circumstances the LEA could become liable for unauthorised disclosure of confidential information. For further advice on data protection matters please contact the Data and Security Manager at Mulberry Place. 8. Sick Pay For levels of sick pay, please refer to the relevant conditions of service document. 9. Procedure for reporting Sickness Absence If staff are sick they must notify their supervisor as soon as possible on the first day of absence, and no later than within two hours of the normal starting time (however staff are advised to check with the Headteacher whether different local arrangements exist within their school). Staff should telephone personally, other than in exceptional circumstances when a relative or friend may call on their behalf. Staff should state a) the reason for their absence b) the estimated period of absence Page 4

5 If the absence continues into a 4th day staff must notify their supervisor or Head of Department of their continued ill health, giving (where possible) an indication of the probable duration of the illness. The 4th day is regarded as the fourth consecutive day of absence, inclusive of rest days and weekends. If the 4th day occurs on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday and the place of work is closed, notification must be made as soon as possible the next working day. If absence continues into an 8th calendar day, staff must visit their doctor to obtain a medical certificate. This must be forwarded to their Supervisor/Line Manager without delay, and normally no later than the tenth calendar day of absence. If staff have stated an intention to return to work on a certain date, but find they are unable to do so, a further explanatory telephone call must be made to their Supervisor/Line Manager. Staff must submit medical certificates to their manager at regular intervals covering their periods of sickness consecutively. If staff have been absent for more than two weeks, they must obtain a final statement from their doctor confirming that they are fit to return to work. Again, this should be given to their manager. Upon their return to work all employees should adhere to the school s selfcertification procedure. Under exceptional circumstances, and with prior notification, employees may be required to provide medical certificates at more frequent intervals than those given above. It is very important that staff comply promptly with the procedures as set out above. If they do not, there is every possibility that any allowances to which they are entitled will be delayed. Additionally, payments under the Occupational Sick Pay Scheme may be stopped if the terms of the scheme are not complied with, and absenteeism procedures could be considered under the Schools Disciplinary Code. If staff submit any false information as to their incapacity, it will be dealt with in accordance with the Schools Disciplinary Code. Page 5

6 Four week s absence If staff illness continues for four weeks they will be automatically referred to the Council s Consultant Occupational Health Physician for medical examination. Written permission may be required to contact an employee s doctor for a medical report, and they have the right to see this report before it is sent to the Council s doctor. It is a requirement of the Occupational Sick Pay Scheme that employees so requested shall attend a medical examination. N.B. Failure to do so without good reason could lead to the stopping of Occupational Sick Pay for the entire period of sickness and/or disciplinary action. 10. Procedure for Managing Sickness Absence It is essential that managers identify whether the underlying sickness problem is one of short-term absences or long term absence, before applying the procedure, as the two forms of absence are treated differently Managing Short Term Absence Short term absences, irrespective of whether they are uncertified or certified by a G.P. can occur where there is no obvious evidence of a single underlying medical condition (i.e. where the reasons for the absences appear unrelated). As a guideline the following will normally be regarded as short term absences and will act as a trigger for the manager to take action if he/she has not done so before: a) A total of 11 days absence in a rolling 12 month period b) Where a combination of odd days, longer periods and patterns of absence causes concern. The above are guidelines only. Managers should monitor all absence and take appropriate action as soon as they believe there is a problem Attendance Review Meeting A confidential meeting between a manager nominated by the Headteacher, and employee should be arranged as soon as the manager identifies a short-term sickness problem (see above). Normally a HR Officer or trade union representative need not be involved at this stage, but this can be varied by mutual agreement. Page 6

7 Aims of the Attendance Review Meeting To:- Signal that the employee s time off is a cause for concern Allow the employee to inform the manager if there is an underlying medical problem Give the employee an opportunity to explain other reasons for sickness, eg domestic difficulties, work, stress, alcohol or drug related problems etc Where appropriate, support should be offered such as assistance with making arrangements for treatment, special leave, temporary adjustments to working hours, or access to counselling Following the Attendance Review Meeting the employee should be allowed reasonable time to demonstrate an improvement in their attendance. As a general guidance this monitoring period would normally be for a period of 3 months, although there may be occasions when a shorter/longer monitoring period would be reasonable First Formal Review Meeting Where the individual s attendance record has not sufficiently improved following the Attendance Review Meeting, the manager should set up a First Formal Review Meeting Aims of the First Formal Review Meeting The purpose of this stage is to: continue to discuss the employee s sickness absence identify any underlying reasons for the lack of improvement refer the employee to the Council s Occupational Health Adviser/counsellor where appropriate if fitness does emerge as the issue. Employees should be made aware that they are entitled to make a self-referral if they wish to do so advise the employee of the employment implications of their absence Page 7

8 check the potential for redeployment (although the appropriateness of this is likely to be minimal in short-term persistent sickness cases) warn the employee that if there is not a substantial and sustained improvement, a Contractual Review will take place, at which a determination to dismiss may be made. The employee may be given notice (normally 3 months) of the Contractual Review Meeting at this stage, or at a later stage during the monitoring period, which may be up to 1 year in duration inform the employee that their attendance will be closely monitored over an agreed time period The employee should be given five working days notice of the review and advised of their right to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or work colleague at the meeting At the First Formal Review reasons for absence should continue to be explored together with any action it may be possible for management to take in terms of work issues. The manager or individual may feel it appropriate to refer the matter to the Council s Occupational Health Adviser but this is not always necessary. Such referrals are undertaken in parallel with any formal action, not instead of. A Human Resources representative should be present at the 1st Formal Review stage. The outcome of the First Formal Review should be confirmed to the employee in writing by the manager, within 5 working days of the meeting. Where appropriate the Manager may decide to reconvene the First Formal Review Meeting in order to consider further evidence and advice Contractual Review Meeting By this stage the employee would have been given every opportunity to improve their attendance to an acceptable level. If all efforts have failed, the employer has a duty to consider termination of the contract of employment on the grounds that the employee is unable to meet their contractual obligations to work. The school must show that the employee has been given a chance to improve their attendance by allowing a reasonable time between the First Formal Review and the Contractual Review. Page 8

9 The employee should be given 10 working days notice of the Contractual Review Meeting, and advised of their right to be accompanied by a recognised Trade Union Representative or work colleague. The letter should outline the employee s sickness record to date and inform them that as a result of the Review a decision may be made to terminate the contract of employment (or in the case of teaching staff, a determination to dismiss may be made to the Director of Education). The dismissal panel will normally consist of the Headteacher (who will chair the meeting) and a governor other than the Chair of Governors. Where the Headteacher conducted previous meetings under the procedure, the dismissal panel will consist of two governors other than the Chair of Governors, one of whom will be nominated to chair the meeting. The Chair of the hearing will be advised on procedural matters and matters of precedent by an LA Human Resources representative. Purpose of the Meeting To consider medical evidence where it is available or appropriate. Should the employee wish the Chair to consider additional evidence such as further medical reports, this should be supplied to him/her at least 5 working days in advance of the Contractual Review meeting. To consider possible solutions for improved attendance. The Chair may if appropriate, defer any decision to terminate the employment contract in order to seek further advice. However, if the Chair is satisfied that the employee is unfit to carry out the duties for which he/she is employed and is unable to sustain an acceptable level of attendance, a determination to dismiss the employee will be made on the grounds of incapability (or in the case of non- teaching staff, a dismissal on the grounds of incapability will be made, with the required notice period). The employee must be informed in writing of the outcome of the Contractual Review Meeting within 5 working days, and advised of their right to appeal against dismissal. Appeals must be made in writing to the Chair of Governors within 10 working days of the written outcome of the Contractual Review (for Appeal process see section 12). Where no appeal is made, Community Schools must inform the Corporate Director of Education in writing of the determination to dismiss. Page 9

10 11. Managing Long Term Absence Long Term Sickness Absence will normally be characterised by an underlying medical condition resulting in continual absence of 20 working days of more, although alternatively there could be short term absences caused by a long term underlying medical condition Management Action Where monitoring indicates a long term absence or a developing long term ill-health problem the manager should refer the member of staff to the Council s Occupational Health Adviser to establish the state of the employee s health and receive an opinion on the expectations for a sustained return to work. The employee will need to be informed of the approach to the Council s Occupational Health Adviser. A letter, telephone call or visit at home by the manager to allay any concerns the employee may have will be necessary. The manner in which this is done is extremely important and home visits should only be undertaken by mutual consent. Primarily the aim is to maintain contact with the employee and check their current position. When it seems clear that the employee is going to be absent for a specified period of time or when a terminal illness has been diagnosed the manager will need to assess the situation in conjunction with the Human Resources Section. In either circumstance it may be that no further action will be necessary apart from maintaining a level of contact with the employee First Formal Review If the prognosis for a return to work is uncertain the manager will write inviting the employee to a First Formal Review, giving a minimum of five working days notice. The employee should be advised of their right to be accompanied by a Trade Union Representative or work colleague and they should be provided with details of their sickness record. Page 10

11 11.3 Aims of the First Formal Review The purpose of the First Formal Review should be to determine: The medical treatment that the employee is receiving and the prognosis for recovery within a reasonable length of time. What the employer can reasonably do to aid the employee s recovery with a view to a return to work, including any reasonable workplace adjustments that may need to be considered (advice on this may be sought from the LEA Occupational Health and Human Resources Sections). The likely length of continuing or repeated absences. To advise the employee of the employment implications of their absence. Whether in all the circumstances the employer can be expected to wait for the employee to return to work (see above). A series of outcomes will be agreed at the First Formal Review Meeting and these should be confirmed to the employee, in writing, by the manager, within 5 working days of the meeting. Where appropriate the manager may decide to reconvene the First Formal Review meeting in order to consider further evidence and advice Contractual Review Process A date for the Contractual Review meeting will normally be set at the preceding First Formal Review Meeting. Normally 3 months notice of the Contractual Review Meeting will be given, but in any case there must have been long enough time to establish the likely prognosis. The Council s Occupational Health Adviser should be asked as to whether a further review of progress is necessary before any prognosis of the employee s future state of health can be given. The employee should be given 10 working days notice of the Contractual Review Meeting and advised of their right to be represented by a recognised trade union or work colleague. The letter should outline the employee s sick record to date and inform them Page 11

12 that as a result of the review a decision may be made to terminate the contract of employment (or in the case of teaching staff a determination to dismiss may be made to the Director of Education). The dismissal panel will normally consist of the Headteacher (who will chair the meeting) and a governor other than the Chair of Governors. Where the Headteacher conducted previous meetings under the procedure, the dismissal panel will consist of two governors other than the Chair of Governors, one of whom will be nominated to chair the meeting. The Chair of the hearing will be advised on procedural matters and matters of precedent by an LA Human Resources representative. Purpose of the Meeting To explain the medical advice received. Where the advice is not encouraging, to explain the implications for the employee s colleagues and the service. Determine the likely duration of the absence or continuation of the condition. Check the potential for redeployment/job redesign or any other reasonable adjustments that may need to be considered. Check the appropriateness of ill-health retirement. Where a full return is expected but not within the near future, where the prognosis is indeterminable, or where there is an underlying medical condition causing persistent short term sickness, the Chair must assess whether in all the circumstances the employee s continued absence is tolerable. Where a determination to dismiss is made, this will be on the grounds of incapability (or in the case of nonteaching staff, a dismissal may be made on the grounds of incapability, with the required pay in lieu of notice). The employee must be informed in writing of the outcome of the Contractual Review meeting within 5 working days, and advised of their right to appeal against dismissal. Appeals must be made in writing to the Chair of Governors within 10 working days of receipt of the written outcome of the contractual review. Page 12

13 Where no appeal is made, Community Schools must inform the Corporate Director of Education in writing of the determination to dismiss. 12. Appeal The Chair of Governors will write to the employee giving details of the appeal hearing, which will normally take place within 10 working days of receipt of the employee s appeal. The employee will be advised in writing of their right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing by a Trade Union representative or work colleague. The Chair of Governors plus two other governors will hear the appeal. A representative from LA Human Resources will also attend to advise the panel on procedural matters and matters of precedent. The Chair of Governors will communicate their decision, which will be final, in writing to the employee within 10 working days of the appeal hearing. This decision must be reported to the full Governing Body. Page 13

14 Attendance Review Meeting Irrespective of whether sickness is certificated or uncertificated, action should be taken when there are: - a. 11 days absence in a 12-month period. b. Regular absences, eg. Mondays, even if only for example 3 Mondays. c. Combination of odd days i.e. follows annual leave. The line manager should arrange with the member of staff for an Attendance Review Meeting to take place in a confidential setting. The following should be discussed with the member of staff. THIS INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL Employee s Name: Date: No. of days off during 12 months period: POINTER NOTES FOR REVIEW MEETING 1. The Attendance Review Meeting is part of the Schools Sickness Management Procedure 2. Inform the member of staff that they have been asked to attend an Attendance Review Meeting due to their having had time off for sickness, and this time off is a cause for concern. 3. Give member of staff time to explain the reasons why they have been off sick. Reasons for Sickness: 4. Identify if there are any underlying reason for sickness, e.g. medical condition, domestic difficulties, work problems. Any underlying reasons: Page 14

15 5. If there are any underlying medical conditions, e.g. bad back, stress, which could reoccur, then state that an appointment will be made for them to see Occupational Health in order for them to make an assessment. Any underlying medical conditions: 6. Explain the double costs that are involved while they have been off sick, ie. the cost of their salary plus that of cover arrangements. It is very important that you discuss all reasons for their sickness and give them any help necessary to get them back to regular attendance. Any additional reasons: 7. Explain that their sickness will be monitored over a certain period eg. 12 weeks, and if a sustained improvement is not forthcoming then it will be necessary to set up a formal meeting known as a First Formal Review. Explain the Sickness Management Procedure, and the possible consequences of continued high levels of sickness absence. 8. Ask the member of staff if they would like to ask any questions or make any comments. Questions or Comments: 9. Explain that this is the end of the meeting and thank the member of staff for attending. PLEASE NOTE The employee should sign this form to confirm their agreement of the meeting. Employee s signature: Manager s signature: Date: Page 15

16 PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL Dear M RE: Sickness Management Procedure First Formal Review Meeting I am writing to confirm that arrangements have been made for a First Formal Review Meeting under the Schools Long/Short Term Sickness Management Procedure, as follows: Date Time Location Upon arrival, please report to I should be grateful if you would confirm that you are able to attend the meeting, and any special arrangements you may require (such as a ground floor meeting room) to facilitate your attendance. However, if you are unable to attend on this date, or do not feel well enough to attend at the school and would prefer a home visit, please contact me as soon as possible on to make alternative arrangements. Please note that you are entitled to be represented by a recognised trade union or work colleague at the meeting if you so wish, and it is your responsibility to make the necessary arrangements. For your information, I enclose a copy of the Sickness Management Procedure and your sickness record. Please note that non attendance without good reason may result in the Review Meeting taking place in your absence. If you have any queries regarding this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me on the above number. Yours sincerely Page 16

17 Date Dear M RE: Contractual Review - Sickness Management Procedure Further to your First Formal Reviews held on and.., I can confirm that you are required to attend a Contractual Review Meeting on.at.. am/pm. I will chair the meeting, and. (school governor) will attend as the second panel member. The meeting will take place at. Upon arrival, please report to reception. It is incumbent upon me to warn you that as a result of the meeting your continued employment with.. school may be placed in jeopardy. If both parties are unable to identify an acceptable solution to improve your attendance, a decision may be made to terminate your contract of employment/a determination to dismiss you may be made to the Director of Education*, in accordance with the Schools Sickness Management Procedure, on the grounds of your incapability to attend work regularly. You may be represented at the meeting by a recognised trade union or work colleague, and it is your responsibility to make the necessary arrangements. Please note that nonattendance at the meeting without good reason will result in it taking place in your absence. If you have any queries concerning this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Yours sincerely Headteacher * delete as applicable Page 17

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