Thurrock Council. Managing Sickness Absence Policy

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1 Thurrock Council Managing Sickness Absence Policy

2 Contents Page 1. Introduction 5 2 Purpose 5 3. Scope 6 4. Key Responsibilities 6 Employees Managers Human Resources 5. Reporting Sickness Absence 7 Reporting sickness absence during annual leave Reporting sickness absence whilst abroad 6. Certification 9 7. Maintaining contact while on sick leave Sickness Management Procedure 11 Sickness Process (flow chart) Return to work Interview Trigger points Long-term sickness absence 2

3 9. Sickness Absence Management Meetings 13 Stage 1 Informal sickness meeting Stage 2 Formal sickness meeting Stage 3 Final Sickness Meeting Decision to dismiss Appeal 10. Medical Redeployment Representation Disciplinary action Non-attendance at meetings Diversity 21 3

4 VERSION CONTROL SHEET Title: Managing Sickness Absence Policy Owner: Human Resources and Organisational Development Date: Implemented April 2015 Version number 2.1 Status: Final Last review: April 2015 Next review date: April 2017 Consultation: This document was sent out for consultation to the following: Trade Unions, Diversity, Heads of Service, Directors Board in Clarification of right of appeal made in Section 9, as agreed at TU meeting on 18/03/15. Flow chart in Section 8 redesigned 25/03/15. 4

5 1. Introduction 1.1 Thurrock Council recognises the importance of managing sickness absence effectively and being committed to supporting the health, wellbeing and attendance of its employees. In doing so, the policy will enable managers to effectively support employees to help maintain regular and efficient attendance at work. 1.2 The policy includes a procedure detailing employee responsibilities, which include the steps which must be followed to report and evidence periods of sickness absence. It also includes a procedure which managers should follow to manage absence effectively. The sick pay provisions available to Thurrock Council employees are listed in their terms and conditions of employment, which are received on appointment. 1.3 Managers should approach the management of sickness absence in a consistent and fair manner giving regard to individual circumstances based on understanding and compassion. However it is necessary to also balance the needs of service delivery which will be considered when taking decisions on how best to proceed with individual cases of sickness absence. If the absence does not reduce to the required level, it may be necessary to convene a stage 3 final absence meeting which could lead to the employee s dismissal. 2. Purpose 2.1 Thurrock Council aims to ensure: sickness absence is managed effectively and kept to a minimum. early intervention is applied to enable good communication and early return to work which are key factors in managing attendance successfully performance is improved to maintain the quality of services delivered sickness absence cover is kept as low as possible (for example, agency staff) that excessive workload is not placed on colleagues to cover absence; employees are supported to return to work as soon as possible to reduce loss of confidence and anxiety which individuals typically experience the longer they are absent from work employee attendance is optimised by promoting health and well-being initiatives to encourage healthy living 5

6 3. Scope 3.1 This policy applies to employees at Thurrock Council and schools based staff, where the school has adopted this policy. However, the formal management procedure does not apply to staff within their probationary period (see Induction & Probation under Recruitment Policy & Procedure). However, managers must continue to apply the principles of good absence management to employees during their probationary period. 4. Key Responsibilities 4.1 Employees are required to: maintain regular and punctual attendance at work follow the rules relating to reporting sickness absences and submit fit notes or other recognised medical certificates at the relevant time in line with the sickness absence procedure safeguard their health and take appropriate action to facilitate a speedy return to fitness when they are absent from work maintain contact with their manager/work base during periods of sickness absence attend meetings and Occupational Health appointments relating to their absence or other health issues. Failure to attend may result in disciplinary action be aware that a delay in refusing to allow his/her GP to be contacted to release relevant medical information may result in decisions being taken which will be based on the available information at the time provide a doctors statement of fitness for work (fit note) following a period of absence prior to and following a bank holiday or significant event provide your manager with an up to date telephone contact number so that they can maintain regular contact whilst on sick leave 4.2 Managers are required to: ensure the sickness absence policy and procedure is applied fairly and consistently by responding triggers as required promote a healthy and safe workplace and encourage regular attendance sickness absence records are updated and maintained and correct payments made inform employees of their duties and obligations under this policy when appropriate pro-actively manage the sickness absence of employees in line with this policy, and make timely case management decisions maintain regular contact with absent employees 6

7 put local arrangements in place to help reduce sickness absence in their services provide employees with support facilities to help manage sickness absence such as the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) comply with health and safety stress risk assessment requirements and complete action plans as necessary. conduct return to work interviews with employees after every period of sickness absence; identify areas of risk that may affect the health and wellbeing of employees; attend or participate in relevant training and development to ensure the effective management of sickness absence; take steps to ensure that employees provide up to date fit notes to cover periods of sickness absence. 4.3 Human Resources are required to: liaise regularly with managers to ensure they are taking appropriate action to manage absences provide advice, support and guidance to managers on sickness absence cases monitor, review and report absence trends on a departmental and corporate basis, recommending pro-active and reactive solutions, as appropriate escalate issues of non-compliance as required 5. Reporting Sickness Absence 5.1 Cases of ill-health will be approached in a supportive and understanding manner, with periods of sickness absence being dealt with promptly, sensitively and appropriately by managers. However, it is an individual employee s responsibility to inform their manager if they are unable to attend work due to ill-health. 5.2 Sick pay may be withheld if employees: fail to cooperate with the procedures outlined below; fail to provide a valid fit note to cover periods of absence; abuse the sickness scheme, for example, reporting in sick when there is evidence that they are not; become sick due to their own misconduct or neglect; become sick while working in their own time for private gain; behave in ways which are prejudicial to their recovery. 7

8 Any of the above may, in certain circumstances, lead to disciplinary action being taken against the employee. 5.3 Employees must report sickness absence no later than one hour before their normal start time on the first day of absence, or the time agreed where there are local arrangements in place, by: contacting a nurse on the Attendance Management contact number (see details below); and contacting their manager by telephone if required by local arrangements 5.4 For employees who work shifts or irregular hours reporting sickness absence should be within one hour of the start of the shift in the case of night workers, up to two hours before the start time, or as required where there are local arrangements are in place. 5.5 Employees who are absence due to sickness must as a minimum report their absence on the: 1 st calendar day of absence 4 th calendar day of absence 8 th calendar day of absence unless there are local arrangements in place. 5.6 Employees are also encouraged to contact their manager to give them any information which might be needed about their work in order to ensure cover and continuity of service provision is maintained. 5.7 When calling in sick an employee should give: their name and/or employee number; the reason for their absence; their expected return to work date. their normal working pattern details of any doctors statements 5.8 If an employee s expected return to work date changes, they must call the nurse at Attendance Manager again to update them. 5.9 The nurse at the 24 hour Attendance Manager support centre can be contacted: From a landline (free of charge) From a mobile (network charges may apply) From a minicom

9 5.10 Attendance Manager will then notify the employee s absence to their manager, including the reason for their absence and their expected return to work date The manager should keep in regular contact with the employee during prolonged periods of absence (see maintaining contact while on long term sick leave below) The manager must update Attendance Manager as soon as the employee returns to work and update the system following the outcome of any sickness absence management meetings. Reporting sickness absence during annual leave 5.13 If an employee becomes sick during a period of booked annual leave (for example at a time when they would have otherwise been due to attend their workplace), this may be recorded as sickness absence (and annual leave recredited). This will, however, only be credited as sickness absence if the employee reports their sickness in the usual way and provides satisfactory evidence of their incapacity (eg a medical statement from a UK or overseas doctor. Reporting sickness absence whilst abroad 5.14 Where an individual becomes sick while overseas and there is a significant time difference, they should report their sickness to their manager at the earliest possible time Where an employee falls sick whilst on holiday overseas and is due to return to work, they are still required to report sickness as outlined above and must provide medical certificates to cover their periods of sickness absence. If an employee is unable to travel back to the UK due to medical reasons, this must be supported by medical evidence verified by a recognised medical body. The Council reserves the right to withhold sick pay in the absence of medical evidence and failure to provide this may lead to disciplinary action. 6. Certification 6.1 When an employee returns from any period of sick leave, their manager will be responsible for holding a return to work interview with them at the earliest opportunity. Managers will receive a trigger to conduct the return to work interview. During this meeting, if the employee has not provided certification, a self certificate form should be completed, regardless of how long or short the period of absence has been. 9

10 6.2 If the employee is absent for more than seven calendar days, they are required to provide a fit note or Doctor s statement to cover the duration of their absence, in addition to the self certificate form. 7. Maintaining contact while on sick leave 7.1 This is a key factor in facilitating the employee s return to work as it reinforces their connection with the workplace and reduces feelings of isolation or apprehension to return. Regular contact whilst on sick leave also helps the manager to effectively manage the absence, offer appropriate support to the employee and facilitate an effective and timely return. 7.2 When an employee telephones to report their absence, the nurse contact at Attendance Manager will agree the date and nature of the next contact, which may be with the nurse and/or manager (e.g. it may be appropriate for the employee to get in touch again to provide an update after a medical appointment). In the cases of long-term absence, the nurse at Attendance Manager will normally contact the employee at least every 4 weeks. 7.3 If an employee s absence is ongoing their manager must agree with them the best way to remain in regular contact. This could be by telephone, meeting at the office or home visits. After this, there should be regular contact, at least once a week, if the absence continues unless other arrangements have been agreed with the manager. 7.4 While on sick leave, employees are responsible for keeping their manager updated with their progress and for being available during their normal hours of work to attend meetings and appointments related to their sickness absence, arranged by the Council. 7.5 Where an employee on sick leave wishes to spend a period of time away from home (e.g. to be cared for by a relative or for recuperative purposes) they must agree this with their manager in advance and provide contact details for their temporary place of residence. In such circumstances, the manager may seek advice from Occupational Health Service about whether such a break will be beneficial to the individual s recovery. 7.6 When the employee is fit to work they should confirm their return to work date with the nurse at Attendance Manager. 10

11 8. Sickness Management Procedure Sickness Notification Procedure to be followed by employee when absent due to illness. Managing Sickness Absence Policy Return to Work Interview with manager after every absence. Stage 1 - Informal Sickness Meeting with manager when a trigger has been hit. Employee has no right to representation. Optional Stage 2 - Formal Sickness Meeting with manager and HR if an unsatisfactory level of absence continues. Employee has right to representation from this stage on. Optional Referral to Occupational Health Service Stage 3 - Final Sickness Meeting with a more senior manager and HR if an unsatisfactory level of absence continues and dismissal is being considered. Essential Appeal Appeal against dismissal with a more senior manger and HR. 11

12 Return to work interviews 8.1 A manager should always meet with the employee on their return from sickness absence regardless of the duration for every period of absence. The discussion itself need only last a few minutes. The basic purpose of the return to work interview is to acknowledge that the employee has been unable to attend work due to ill health and offer them support and encouragement on their return to work. 8.2 If any reasonable doubt exists about the validity of a particular absence, the circumstances should be objectively investigated in accordance with section 11 below. 8.3 During the return to work interview the manager should cover the following areas, as appropriate: welcome the employee back to work and discuss the reason(s) for absence; determine whether any reasonable adjustments need to be made to the working environment to ensure a safe and smooth return to work; establish whether the sickness absence was work related and whether there are any health and safety issues which must be addressed; ensure that the employee understands the impact their absence has had; brief the employee about any developments in the workplace which have happened while they have been away, e.g. changes in staff, systems, location, equipment; determine whether there are any training or development needs which have arisen during the employee s absence. Any essential training should be organised at the earliest opportunity; perform a risk assessment, if appropriate; check that all necessary documentation e.g. fit notes and Doctor s statements are up to date and that a self-certification form is completed by the employee. discuss whether to refer the employee to the occupational health for medical advice and discuss the referral form with the employee if necessary where a trigger has been met, an appraisal of the next steps should be made and notified to the employee record all return to work interviews on Attendance Manager, and record decisions where a trigger has been reached 12

13 Trigger points 8.4 The manager must review an employee s attendance where an employee hits one of the following trigger points: 3 separate episodes of absence in any rolling 6 month period; or 6 working days absence in any rolling 12 month period (pro rata for parttime staff); or A pattern of absence which causes concern, e.g. absences on either side of a weekend or rest day. If an employee has hit one of the trigger levels the manager should initiate the sickness absence management procedure outlined below. Long-term sickness absence 8.5 Long-term absence cases are those where an employee has been absent continuously for 4 weeks (20 days). In these circumstances the same sickness absence management procedure should be used to manage the absence when a trigger has been reached in accordance with paragraph 8.4 above. Managers should follow the sickness absence management procedure by holding an informal review at the point a trigger has been hit i.e. 6 days in the rolling 12 months. 8.6 The manager should maintain contact with the employee from when they first fall ill, (in accordance with the maintaining contact while on sick leave section above) and initiate the sickness absence management procedure by conducting a stage 1 informal sickness meeting once a trigger has been hit. If the employee has had previous sickness absence in the last 12 months period prior to going on long term sick leave and is already in the formal stages of the procedure, the manager may move to the next stage. 9. Sickness Absence Management Meetings 9.1 The sickness absence management procedure has four stages: Stage 1 - Informal sickness meeting; Stage 2 - Formal sickness meeting; Stage 3 - Final sickness meeting; Appeal meeting Employees will be given at least five working days notice for stage 2 meetings and above except for appeals, in which case they will be given at leave 10 working days notice. 13

14 Stage 1 - Informal Sickness Meeting 9.2 The manager must assess an employee s attendance where a trigger has been reached. The informal sickness meeting should be held with the employee when a trigger has been reached or where there is a cause for concern about the employee s health. If the employee is still absent from work, the employee should be either requested to attend the meeting in the workplace or it may be conducted by telephone. The meeting may also be conducted at the employee s home address or an alternate location. The key aspect of this stage is that a dialogue must happen as soon as a trigger is reached. 9.3 This is an informal stage of the procedure therefore there is no right for the employee to be represented by a trade union representative or a work friend at the meeting. This meeting will take place between the manager and the employee. Note: An informal meeting and a return to work interview can be conducted at a single meeting. 9.4 The purpose of the informal sickness meeting is to: determine whether the employee is fit or is likely to be fit to return to work Identify the likelihood of further absence assess the need for a referral to the Occupational Health Service identify problems affecting the individual s health and performance and where possible resolve assess the effects of the absence on the service ensure the employee understands the sickness absence procedure decide what additional steps are necessary dependant on the circumstances inform the employee that his/her sickness absence will continue to be monitored and if there is no substantial improvement, formal action will be initiated. If the manager considers that absences are likely to continue, he/she must complete an action plan The manager should: confirm the outcome of the meeting with the employee in writing and place on the employee s personal file record all outcomes of the assessment on Attendance Manager conduct stress risk assessments where appropriate and produce action plans in accordance with the Council s Wellbeing and Stress Management Policy 14

15 9.5 Attendance will be monitored for 12 months. If the employee s attendance level is no longer a cause for concern (i.e. there has been no further sickness absence within the 12 months period and no triggers have been hit) no further action will be taken). If the employee remains above trigger levels, the manager should review the sickness absence record and decide whether to arrange a stage 2 formal sickness meeting. Note: If further sickness absence occurs, the process will re-commence at the point that it left off (for example the process will not begin again). This is applicable regardless of which stage has been reached in the sickness absence management procedure Stage 2 Formal Sickness Meeting 9.6 Following on from the stage 1 informal sickness meeting, the manager in consultation with Human Resources should set up a stage 2 formal sickness meeting. The employee should be provided with 5 days notice of the meeting. A member of Human Resources will also be present. The employee must be given the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a work friend. 9.7 At the meeting, the manager should: Confirm the employee s sickness absence dates and the trigger point that has been reached Identify any difficulties being caused by the frequency or pattern of the employee s absences Consider any explanation the employee has for their absence level, and how confident they feel that their future attendance level will improve Discuss with the employee whether any measures can be taken to reduce their level of sickness to an acceptable level Consider whether any reasonable adjustment need to be put in place to support the employee back to work Explain that the Council will take all reasonable measures to support the employee in achieving an acceptable level of attendance Decide, after consulting the employee, whether they should be referred to the Occupational Health Service (OHS). Consider whether it would be appropriate to require the employee to provide a fit note each time they are absent 15

16 Consider the impact on service delivery and the effect on other members of the team Explain the risk to the individual s employment should absence levels continue to be a cause for concern Inform the employee that they are likely to progress to Stage 3 formal sickness meeting of this procedure if: o their attendance record remains a cause for concern (i.e. their absence record is above the trigger levels) following the Stage 2 sickness meeting; o they hit a further trigger point within a 12 month period following the Stage 2 formal sickness meeting Set a review period if applicable. This will normally be in cases of long term sickness in view of the medical advice relating to underlying medical conditions. 9.8 A letter must be sent to the employee, normally within 5 working days of the meeting, to confirm the discussions and outcome of the meeting. 9.9 If the employee s attendance level is no longer a cause for concern (i.e. there has been no further sickness absence within the 12 months period and no triggers have been hit), no further action will be taken The manager may hold more than one stage 2 formal sickness meetings in order to manage the employees sickness absence before moving on to stage 3 final sickness meeting. However, the manager may move to a stage 3 final sickness meeting if the employee s sickness absence remains a cause for concern and where dismissal is contemplated At this stage, the manager must consider ill-health retirement or medical redeployment before progressing to a stage 3 final sickness meeting is convened. Any decision to move to a stage 3 final sickness meeting must be supported by up to date medical advice obtained through Occupational Health. Stage 3 Final Sickness Meeting 9.12 A stage 3 final sickness meeting should be arranged if short term or long term absences persist, in accordance with the circumstances described above and should only be held where dismissal is a serious consideration to terminate the employee from the Council s employment. 16

17 9.13 In advance of the meeting, the manager must prepare a report which includes: the level and effect of the sickness absence(s). Action taken, including dates, referrals, any alterations to working conditions etc. factual medical information, and in the case of employees with an underlying medical condition, occupational health advice The employee should be provided with a copy of the report along with a letter requesting attendance and providing 10 working days notice. The employee has the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a work colleague to this meeting The meeting will be chaired by a senior manager who has authority to dismiss. A member of Human Resources will provide procedural advice to the Chair and both the employee and manager will normally be in attendance In considering whether to dismiss the employee, the Chair will take the following factors into consideration: the nature of any illness and medical opinions received; the length and frequency of absences and periods of attendance between them; the likelihood of continued or further periods of absence; the impact on service delivery and resources of the team the extent to which managers have informed the employee that their level of absence will put on their continued employment with the Council and the risk to their job. special considerations raised by the employee to support their case. appropriateness of the considerations given by managers to the options as an alternative to dismissal e.g. reasonable adjustments; reduced hours; redeployment; ill-health retirement The chair will usually decide on one of the following options as an outcome to the meeting: to dismiss the employee with notice; or in exceptional circumstances, give up to 3 months to improve, at the end of which the final absence meeting will reconvene to decide on the most appropriate action. This could still be dismissal, if there has been insufficient improvement A letter should be sent to the employee, normally within 5 working days, to confirm the outcome of the meeting and their right to appeal against dismissal. The employee should be kept informed if there is a delay in sending out the letter. 17

18 Decision to dismiss 9.19 Where the decision is taken to dismiss an employee, it will be on the grounds of incapability due to the employee s level of sickness absence The employee will be informed as soon as is reasonably practicable, and provided with contractual notice The employee will also be informed about their right to appeal against the decision to dismiss them. Appeal 9.22 An employee has the right to appeal against a decision to dismiss them from the Council s service. They must do so in writing to the person who has issued the dismissal and within 5 working days of receiving the appeal in writing to the manager who chaired the stage 3 meeting. The grounds of appeal must be specified and fall into one or more of the following categories: there were significant procedural irregularities in the procedure which could have affected the outcome; the evidence presented at the stage 3 meeting did not support the decision to dismiss; new factual evidence has come to light which could not have been introduced at an earlier stage, and which could have had a significant effect on the decision taken Appeals should be heard by a more senior manager who has not previously been involved in the case and who has authority to dismiss. A member of Human Resources will provide procedural advice to the Chair and both the employee and manager will normally be in attendance. The employee continues to have the right to be accompanied and the manager may be accompanied by a member of Human Resources, if required An appeal hearing will be convened within 4 weeks of receipt of any written appeal against dismissal. The employee will be given at least 10 working days notice of the date of the appeal hearing, unless an earlier date is mutually agreed, and will be given the right to be accompanied Documentation should be submitted to those directly involved in the hearing no later than 5 working days before the arranged date. This deadline can be extended or shortened by mutual agreement. 18

19 9.26 At the appeal hearing, the employee or their representative will present their grounds for appeal first. The management side and panel members will then have the opportunity to question the employee, if they wish them to clarify their case. Management will provide a response to the appeal, and answer any questions the employee (or their representative) and panel members may have The options open to the Chair are either to: uphold the original decision and confirm the dismissal; or withdraw the dismissal The Chair should make their decision based on whether or not one or more of the three categories listed in 9.22 has been proven by the employee The decision of the appeal meeting will be final and the employee will normally be informed of the outcome within 5 working days of the meeting. 10. Medical Redeployment 10.1 When it has been identified that an employee cannot complete the duties of their substantive post it will be necessary to consider alternative employment opportunities. This process is termed medical redeployment Medical redeployment is an option where:- the OHS consider that the employee is permanently unable to undertake the full duties of their post on health grounds the OHS consider that the employee will be able to carry out alternative work within the Council and provide satisfactory attendance and the employee wishes to be considered for alternative employment 10.3 The investigation of redeployment opportunities is also a requirement of the illhealth retirement provisions of the Local Government Pension Scheme, which states that an authority has to ensure that the employee cannot undertake any comparable employment If the Occupational Health advice confirms that the employee is permanently unfit to carry out their substantive role but is otherwise fit for work and where there is no suitable alternative post with the team/service, a formal discussion will be had with the employee as part of the Sickness Absence Management Policy. The employee will be advised: That s/he will be subject to the redeployment process for a period of 3 months from the date of the stage 2 meeting. The sickness absence procedure will run in parallel. 19

20 The job search for an alternative post will be limited to the same grade or one grade down. If the employee is redeployed into a post one grade lower, they will receive pay protection (basic pay only) for a period of 12 months If a redeployment opportunity is found, the employee will initially undertake a trial period of four weeks to assess whether they, and their new manager, believe that it is a suitable placement. Reasonable training should be offered to ensure satisfactory induction into the role. The four week trial period of assessment will apply to medical redeployees as to other redeployees If the trial period proves successful, the employee s permanent transfer can then be confirmed If concerns arise during the trial period, the redeployee or their new manager may discuss the matter with a member of Human Resources with a view to deciding the best course of action in the circumstances. This could involve a further referral to OHS in order to review the employee s capabilities, ill-health retirement or a formal sickness review hearing, where termination of services on the grounds of medical incapability will have to be considered. 11. Representation 11.1 Employees may, if they wish, be accompanied at any stage of the formal procedure by either a work colleague or, if they are a member of a trade union, a representative or official of that trade union. It is the employee s responsibility to arrange to be accompanied, and they should inform their manager who they will be accompanied by If the employee s companion is unavailable on the date or time of the proposed meeting, one alternative will be offered within five days of the original date or, exceptionally, at another mutually agreed date. 12. Disciplinary action 12.1 Any informal or formal action taken in response to genuine ill-health or injury will be taken under the provisions of this policy and must not be considered a disciplinary matter In clear cases of misconduct, the Disciplinary Procedure will be followed instead of this policy. Examples of misconduct are: unjustifiable failure to follow the sickness absence procedure unsatisfactory reasons for sickness absence, e.g. persistently using vague reasons such as ill or unwell, or reasons unrelated to illness or injury 20

21 unauthorised absence resulting from a failure to report absence or provide fit notes or medical statements and/or evidence to support sickness absence carrying out an activity which cannot be reasonably consistent with the nature of sickness absence deliberate falsification of information such as medical or self certificates failure to attend occupational health appointments 13. Non-attendance at meetings 13.1 If the employee or their representative cannot attend a meeting for a reason, which was not foreseeable when the meeting was arranged, the employee should notify the manager, who will then arrange another time and date within 5 working days of the original date If the employee does not attend after a second invitation, the manager may continue with the procedure in their absence. 14. Diversity 14.1 Managers and employees have a responsibility to promote the Council s Equal Opportunities Policy, treating others with respect, valuing diversity and avoiding discrimination During the managing sickness absence process, it is important that managers recognise and consider any relevant issues in relation to the following: age disability gender re-assignment marriage/civil partnership pregnancy and maternity race sex sexual orientation religion or belief 14.3 In particular, reasonable adjustments must be made where an employee has, or develops, a disability, which affects their attendance levels and therefore their ability to perform their job. A referral to Occupational Health may be appropriate to establish whether any measures, support or adjustments are required to meet the needs of disabled employees at work. The Council also has a Disabled Persons' Employment Policy that contains information in relation to this. 21

22 14.4 The Council also supports a number of employee engagement forums to promote understanding between different groups of people employed by the Council. These include a disability forum women s forum, BME forum, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) forum, although other forums can be set up to represent groups where there is a desire to do so. Further information about diversity can be obtained from the Corporate Diversity Team: 22

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