Title: Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure. CONTENT SECTION DESCRIPTION PAGE. 1 Introduction 2. 2 Policy statement 2.

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1 Title: Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure. Date Approved: 17 June 2014 Approved by: JSPF Date of review: June 2016 Policy Ref: Issue: 1 Division/Department: Human Resources Author (post-holder): Deputy Director of Human Resources Policy Category: Human Resources Policy Sponsor (Director): Executive Director of Human Resources CONTENT SECTION DESCRIPTION PAGE 1 Introduction 2 2 Policy statement 2 3 Definitions 3 4 Role and responsibilities 3 5 Scope of Policy 4 6 Consultation 4 7 Narrative 4 8 Evidence base 11 9 Monitoring compliance Training Requirements Distribution Communication Author and Review Details Appendices - diagrams, flow charts, evidence 12 FV 17/6/2014 1

2 SHERWOOD FOREST HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST SICKNESS ABSENCE MANAGEMENT POLICY & PROCEDURE 1. INTRODUCTION The Trust recognises that employees are our most valuable asset in delivering a high quality, safe and cost effective service to the people it serves. This will be achieved by offering attractive and fair conditions of employment, flexible working opportunities, a healthy environment and above all encouraging all employees to play an active role in the Trust s future. The Trust aims to raise awareness to help employees maintain good levels of health and wellbeing, enabling everyone to contribute fully through regular attendance. The Trust encourages and promotes a culture which ensures that employees are aware that their regular attendance at work and contribution to their team is valued; and recognises the need to minimise the impact of non attendance on both the individual, their colleagues and on operational services. The Trust is committed to supporting employees, as far as is reasonably practicable where they have an underlying medical condition impacting on their ability to perform their role and where they are committed to their recovery and rehabilitation. Supportive management of staff who are ill should, as far as possible, enable: Staff to return to work sooner; or Staff to continue in productive employment for longer; or The Trust to take a timely decision whether their employment can be sustained. Firm management of persistently poor attendance should reduce the disruption caused by such absence to the functioning of wards and departments by: Ensuring that the attendance of the staff concerned improves substantially within a reasonable timescale; or Ensuring that a timely decision can be taken to end their employment if such improvement is not made. Employee s must take personal responsibility to fulfill the requirements to attend work in accordance with their contract of employment. This policy and procedure is supported by a range of guidance notes available from the HR Department and/or the Trust intranet. 2 POLICY STATEMENT This policy and procedure, which is applicable to all employees, is based on the core principles of ensuring an environment where staff health and welfare are a priority. It encourages managers and employees to clearly identify and understand the causes of sickness absence and initiate timely, appropriate and responsive interventions which facilitate a return to work at the earliest opportunity. FV 17/6/2014 2

3 The Trust acknowledges the significant role of representatives of trade unions and professional organisations who work in close partnership with managers to facilitate and support employees to take personal responsibility for their attendance at work. Where an employee requests the assistance, accompaniment and support of an accredited representative of a recognised Trade Union or Professional Organisation or by a work colleague not acting in a legal capacity, the appropriate manager will take all reasonable steps to accommodate this where appropriate and reasonable. This should not detract from the manager and employee maintaining regular discussion regarding their attendance. Discretion The policy provides for the employee s manager, advised by HR, to exercise discretion in determining the application of the policy according to an employee s individual circumstances. This does not mean that the employee s manager can decide not to apply the policy, but it does mean that a judgement can be exercised. Discretion is the application of judgement. Therefore it cannot be set out prescriptively in a policy document, nor is it an entitlement of the employee. Each case will be considered on its merits, and managers in different workplaces might reasonably come to different judgements about the timing of formal interventions, given similar cases. Examples of the factors that will be considered in deciding whether any discretion is warranted include the employee s overall pattern of sickness absence and attendance, the prospective impact on the employee s health or attendance of any current treatments, investigations or occupational health assessments, and the extent to which allowing further time on the process is judged likely to make a material difference to the employee s ability to attend work. 3. DEFINITIONS The Trust means Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Riddor means Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences. ESR means Electronic Staff Record. 4. ROLES & RESPONSIBLITIES Employees are responsible for adhering to the requirements set out in the procedure and are responsible for their own health and wellbeing. Employees must take personal responsibility to fulfil the requirements to attend work in accordance with their contract of employment. Employees are responsible for reporting on their first and last day of absence to their line manager or nominated deputy by telephone. Employees are also required to attend Occupational Health appointments as necessary. Managers, team leaders and supervisors are responsible for adhering to the requirements set out in the procedure and ensuring the work place remains conducive to achieving a healthy team working environment. Managers who do not follow the procedure will have their performance managed to ensure necessary improvements. Occupational Health will provide guidance to the employee and manager on health matters which are affecting the required attendance at work. Executive and Senior Management Team members are responsible for overseeing attendance levels and ensuring case management remains effective within the Division. FV 17/6/2014 3

4 The HR team is responsible for supporting all levels of management with monitoring the attendance of their team/area of responsibility, ensuring that the procedure is adhered to and providing absence data to divisional teams. The Trust Health & Safety team is responsible for the monitoring of the required Trust and HSE documentation for reporting of work related injury and illness. Advice will be provided to include areas such as, equipment needs, changes to the environment etc. 5. SCOPE OF POLICY This policy applies to all staff employed by the trust, including directors and nonexecutive directors. 6. CONSULTATION Consultation will be with the Local Negotiating Committee and the Joint Staff partnership Forum. 7. NARRATIVE MANAGEMENT OF SICKNESS ABSENCE PROCEDURE SICKNESS REPORTING ARRANGEMENTS & FIT NOTES Employees who are ill and unable to come to work have a responsibility to inform their manager or nominated deputy by telephone before they are due to commence work. Reporting of absence by text message will not be accepted. It is expected that employees will comply with locally determined reporting arrangements for sickness absence. These will be notified to the employee by their line manager. Employees are required to explain the reason for absence and provide an indication of the length of time they expect to be absent. In exceptional circumstances, and only where the employee is physically and/or psychologically unable to do so themselves, a member of their family/partner/spouse may telephone the manager on their behalf. If the manager is unavailable for this initial contact, the employee who is off sick should make contact with a deputy. If this proves impossible the employee should telephone contact details in a message to the manager who will contact the employee at the earliest opportunity. It is imperative that employees during a period of absence keep their manager informed regarding their progress and their anticipated return to work date. In all cases the manager and the employee will jointly agree contact arrangements during the period of absence. As a minimum the employee will be expected to update their line manager at least once a week. The manager will maintain a record of all contact with the employee and a template form for this purpose is contained in the toolkit. From the 8th calendar day sickness absence must be covered by a medical fit note which should be submitted to the line manager within 3 calendar days. Any subsequent fit note issued must be submitted within 3 calendar days of the expiry of the previous note. When determining the 8th day, all days including weekends, should be included for all groups of staff. Where an employee anticipates difficulty in timely submission of medical fit notes they must communicate this to their manager. FV 17/6/2014 4

5 Where an employee does not comply with the sickness reporting procedure, including submission of fit notes within specified timescales they will be regarded as being absent without leave. The circumstances of any non-compliance will be considered on an individual basis and if necessary may proceed in accordance with the Trust s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. Where late submission of fit notes results in pay being withheld, employees will only be reimbursed statutory sick pay and not occupational sick pay, except in exceptional circumstances. If it is found that during a period of absence an employee is acting in a manner inconsistent with the reason for the absence or not aiding their return to work, occupational sick pay will be withheld and where appropriate action taken in accordance with the Trust s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure and referred where appropriate to Local Counter Fraud Services. If the employee holds more that one contract of employment with the Trust or undertakes work with an agency/other employer, any period of sickness should affect all work including voluntary work or self employment. The only exception to this would be where a medical practitioner determines that specific work could be carried out by the individual. In these circumstances confirmation from the medical practitioner would be required. This should be discussed with the line manager in the first instance with a view to determining whether adjustments can be made or alternative employment found within the Trust to accommodate the employee working at the Trust. This would not prevent the manager from requesting a second opinion from Occupational Health if appropriate. On no account must employees work for another employer whilst on sick leave with the Trust unless the above evidence is provided and it is agreed with the manager Failure to provide this evidence in advance of any work being undertaken may result in this being regarded as a fraudulent act and/or dishonesty. Employees must inform their manager on the day that they are fit to return to work, even if they are not rostered to work on that day. Staff will be recorded as on sick leave until they report that they are fit to return to work. This can not be done retrospectively. SICKNESS ABSENCE RECORDS For the purposes of local sickness absence recording, all hours of sickness absence will be recorded, even where the absence relates to part of a day. However sickness absence recorded on ESR and e-rostering must be completed days. Accurate and timely recording of sickness absence on ESR will ensure individual s pay is correct; pay can be adversely affected especially where employees have returned and this is not recorded on ESR. Where sickness absence is as a result of an injury whilst at work, or illness acquired through work, before recording as such on ESR, this must be reviewed with the Divisional General Manager / Head of Service after taking advice from the HR Department where appropriate. If the period of sickness absence is recorded as work related NHS Injury Allowance may be payable. Consideration should also be given to RIDDOR reporting requirements. Records of sickness absence will be recorded by managers on the Electronic Staff Record systems which enable identification of individual attendance patterns at an early stage, and also facilitates effective monitoring of absence. All documentation relating to sickness absence will either be stored on the Electronic Staff Record or on the employee s personal file. FV 17/6/2014 5

6 RETURN TO WORK DISCUSSION A face to face return to work discussion will be undertaken with employees by their line manager ideally within 48 hours of the day they return from any period of sickness absence (including part days), or if duty/work patterns do not coincide, this responsibility may be delegated appropriately. It remains, however, the responsibility of the line manager to ensure that the return to work discussion has been undertaken on their return to work and the discussion record filed on the employee s personal file. In some circumstances, for example night workers or community midwives, initial contact may be undertaken between the manager and employee by telephone. However this should not detract from undertaking a more structured face to face discussion as soon as practicable which may include the setting of attendance targets as per stage 1 of the procedure. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that a productive discussion is held with the employee relating to their recent absence and their return to work. The areas that should be covered within the return to work interview are contained within the sickness absence management guidance document available on the Trust intranet. OCCUPATIONAL AND OTHER STAFF HEALTH SERVICES The Occupational Health Department is a confidential advisory service that has a dual role to provide advice and support to both managers and employees about health in the workplace and the possible effect of health conditions in relation to employment. Managers should refer employees to the service to ensure that they are able to obtain medical opinions regarding the health conditions of employees and the effect that these conditions may have upon the employee s ability to undertake roles and responsibilities. Employees are also able to refer themselves to Occupational Health if they wish. Occupational Health will provide Occupational Health advice to managers. If an employee fails to attend an Occupational Health appointment, or refuses to consent to release of the Trust the content of an Occupational Health report, then the manager will need to make decisions and take action based on the most up to date information available to the Trust at that time. Failure to attend Occupational Health appointments without a reasonable explanation will be considered under the Trust s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. Managers should also encourage employees to take advantage of other staff health and wellbeing services available across the Trust e.g. staff counselling services. Further information on such services can be obtained from Human Resource Advisors, Trade Union representatives, Occupational Health and the Trust intranet. STAGE 1 - SICKNESS REVIEW AND TARGET SETTING The line manager should arrange to meet with the employee where the employee has had either: a) 2 separate occasions of sickness absence in a rolling 6 month period excluding pregnancy related illness, or b) 1 occasion of 15 calendar days or more sickness absence or c) A target previously set as a result of a) or b) above which is due for review, or d) A pattern of sickness absence is forming relating to reason and/or timing of absence. e) This can include the consideration of long term and short term sickness absence as a whole. FV 17/6/2014 6

7 These should be considered in the context of an employee s overall attendance and employment record, taking into account the facility to exercise discretion ( as referred to above) where considered justified by the line Manager. The employee must be provided with the opportunity to be accompanied and supported by an accredited representative of a recognised Trade Union or Professional Organisation or by a work colleague not acting in a legal capacity. The meeting should be held within 14 calendar days of the end of the period of absence which triggers the meeting and the employee should be notified in writing of the date, time and purpose of the meeting at least 7 calendar days in advance. In exceptional circumstances this can be delayed with approval from the Divisional General Manager / Divisional Matron/ / Director / Hospital Manager or Senior Manager with delegated authority. The purpose of this meeting will be to: a) Discuss and review the position since the return to work interview and to advise the employee of the need for immediate and sustained improvement in their levels of attendance. The meeting will include discussion and establishment of sickness improvement targets if appropriate to the circumstances of the individual and the service. Consideration should be given to any long term condition or disability when a reasonable adjustment may be more appropriate than the issue of an attendance target. However, this does not preclude the option of the line manager issuing an attendance target, even when reasonable adjustments have been made and implemented. b) Targets will be set from the date of the meeting. c) Examine the working pattern and number of paid hours worked in excess of the employees contracted hours of duty. Where these are considered excessive it is appropriate that no additional hours will be offered or worked until there has been a demonstrable improvement in the level of sickness absence. This will include work on the Trust s bank. d) Ensure the employee is aware of their own responsibility for attending work and that it is reasonable to expect levels of sickness absence to improve. Where this does not happen, or if sickness absence levels increase again this may result in further formal action being taken. e) The line manager will monitor the situation and establish a date to meet again to formally review the situation. Where the employee breaches the target the Stage 2 Sickness Capability Hearing should be implemented. Normal routine management supervision meetings can and should be used for the line manager and employee to keep in touch between the formal review meetings. Where the employee meets the attendance target consideration should be given to whether a further improvement target or initiatives designed to maintain the level of attendance at an acceptable standard, should be set. f) Where there is an identified underlying medical issue stated, this should be confirmed by Occupational Health. If the condition is likely to prevent sustained attendance at work, reasonable adjustments should be considered and implemented where possible. HR must be consulted for advice when managers do not consider that reasonable adjustments are possible. If the employee s attendance does not improve sufficiently then a further meeting with the employee, their representative, the manager and HR Assistant Business Partner to discuss next steps should take place. FV 17/6/2014 7

8 STAGE 2 - SICKNESS CAPABILITY HEARING Where an attendance target has been breached or where there is continued concern about an employee s attendance at work or performance due to health reasons whilst at work, a sickness capability hearing with the employee should be arranged. The employee should be provided with the opportunity to be accompanied to the meeting by their trade union representative or work colleague not acting in a legal capacity. A Human Resource Assistant Business Partner/HR Business Partner should also be present. In exceptional circumstances this hearing can be delayed with approval from the Divisional General Manager/Divisional Matron/Director/Hospital Manager/ Director/ or Senior Manager with delegated authority. For staff who have a current sickness absence warning on their file, consideration will be given as to whether they will be entitled to receive incremental pay progression in year. The sickness capability hearing will be held no later than 4 working weeks following the return to work discussion (unless a longer period is agreed by the Trust e.g. to allow the employee to be represented). The employee will be notified of the arrangements for the hearing and its purpose no later than 7 calendar days prior to the hearing. All copies of documentation to be considered at the hearing will be forwarded to the employee with the letter notifying them of the arrangements. Employees who fail to attend a capability hearing will be notified in writing that it is in their interests to attend the hearing and provided with one further opportunity to attend the hearing. On the second occasion of failing to attend, without a reason deemed acceptable by the Trust, the case will be heard using all of the information and evidence available at the time and a decision will be made in the employee s absence. The sickness capability hearing will allow for a full review of the facts of the case, including the employee s present and past sickness absence record, consideration of medical advice and any mitigating circumstances. The outcome of the sickness capability hearing may be action up to and including dismissal. If a lesser sanction is appropriate this may also be linked to a further attendance target and/or other adjustments to working arrangements which are felt would support improvement of the employee s levels of sickness absence. Should a warning be issued, then any further breach of sickness absence targets or concerns about an employee s attendance at work or performance due to health reasons whilst at work should be considered at a further sickness capability hearing which may result in termination of the contract of employment or other action being taken. Staff who meet their targets set in a sickness capability hearing will continue to have their attendance monitored under stage 1 of the procedure for the next 12 month period. Once the target has been met any further periods of sickness absence will be considered in light of the employees present and past sickness record which will require a further meeting with the member of staff, the outcome of which may result in a further sickness absence target and/or further action being taken. The employee has the right of appeal against dismissal and will be advised of this verbally at the hearing and in writing. The employee should exercise the right of appeal by writing to the officer notified and specified in the letter confirming the outcome of the capability hearing and providing reasons for their appeal. FV 17/6/2014 8

9 LONGER TERM SICKNESS ABSENCE Stage 1 Maintaining contact and establishing a management action plan The manager should discuss and jointly agree with the employee a plan to maintain regular contact at the beginning of their period of sickness absence. Discussion will take place at a review meeting regarding a referral to Occupational Health to ensure that they are receiving support and advice about their condition, but also to ensure that the Trust receives information regarding their prognosis and likely return to work. Managers will ensure that payslips are forwarded to the employee together with any newsletters and briefing documents appropriate to the employee. Managers will maintain a record of contact with the employee during their absence including accurate reporting on ESR or e-rostering. The manager should consider the following interventions at the earliest opportunity and arrange to meet with the employee at a convenient location (which could include home visits where agreed) to discuss the following: a) The projected period of absence b) Health update and progress of treatment c) The advice of Occupational Health, where appropriate d) Trust wide opportunities for rehabilitation and/or redeployment (enabling the retention of employees unable to undertake their own job through ill health or injury as an alternative to ill health retirement or dismissal) and associated training needs. Where non clinical placements for clinical staff are explored it must be noted that these will be reviewed on a monthly basis by the line manager. e) Support that may be available to the employee both within and outside the organisation. f) Arrange further review meetings and Occupational Health appointments. g) Phased return to work plan. Such plans are not an entitlement but may be considered where the employee has had a significant illness and/or there are barriers to returning to work. The phased work plan will allow employees to build up to optimum fitness before undertaking full contractual duties, therefore reducing the likelihood of a further sickness absence. This is as per Annex 2 of Agenda for Change which states: Phased return-enabling staff to work towards fulfilling all their duties and responsibilities within a defined and appropriate time period, through interim flexible working arrangements, whilst receiving their normal pay. Under normal circumstances if an employee has accrued annual leave whilst off sick they will be expected to use a proportion of this to facilitate a phased return to work. As a guide the amount of leave to be used should be equivalent to the entitlement for the period off sick e.g. if an employee has been off for three months then a quarter of a full year s entitlement would be a reasonable amount of leave to utilise for a graduated FV 17/6/2014 9

10 return. Consideration should be given to the timing of the sickness absence in relation to the remainder of the annual leave year. During a phased return to work if/when the employee has used up all their annual leave, the manager can use discretion as to whether to grant some paid leave of absence to facilitate the phased return to work. Generally periods of phased return should be short and for a specified time period up to a maximum of 4 weeks. However it is acknowledged that this will depend on the individual circumstances and these can be extended beyond the initial period at the discretion of the appropriate Divisional General Manager/Divisional Matron / Hospital Manager/Head of Service or Senior Manager with delegated authority, and usually only after having taken Occupational Health advice. Managers should continue to maintain contact throughout the period of the employee s sickness absence and repeat the steps within this stage as appropriate until the absence duration reaches 4 months unless medical advice is received sooner that the employee will be unable to undertake the full duties of their substantive role. Stage 2 Consideration of alternative roles and/or adjustments to current role / termination of employment Where long term sickness absence continues beyond 4 months, a further meeting should be arranged with the employee. This meeting should be conducted by the appropriate Divisional General Manager/Head of Service/ Divisional Matron/Hospital Manager. The Divisional General Manager/Head of Service/Divisional Matron/ Hospital Manager may delegate their authority to their next in line manager. This is to take account of the sensitivities which relate to ill health situations and to prevent the employee becoming involved with another manager with whom they may have previously had little contact. Where this is deemed appropriate the Divisional General Manager/Head of Service/ Divisional Matron must ensure that they have been fully briefed regarding the circumstances. A Human Resource Assistant Business Partner / HR Business Partner should also be present at the meeting. The employee should be invited to, and given 7 calendar days notice of the meeting, the purpose of which should be clearly identified as being to consider their future employment with the Trust. The employee should be provided with the opportunity to be accompanied to the meeting by their staff representative, or work colleague not acting in a legal capacity. The purpose of this meeting is to review the points covered in previous meetings above and to explore the longer term prognosis. This should involve the exploration of alternative employment, reasonable adjustments which can be made to the employee s substantive post to facilitate a return, ill health retirement or ultimately dismissal on the grounds of capability arising from ill health. If, on the basis of all available information, including where appropriate an up to date occupational health assessment, where appropriate, and following discussion with the employee, it is decided that the health condition will prevent the employee from returning to their substantive post within a reasonable period of time, the employee should formally be advised that the Trust will have no alternative but to terminate their employment on the grounds of capability due to ill health. Formal notice of the termination of employment should be confirmed both verbally and in writing, together with the arrangements for seeking alternative employment during the notice period. At this point the employee will normally be placed on the at risk register for ill health redeployment unless in exceptional circumstances this is not appropriate. FV 17/6/

11 Employees will be advised of their right of appeal against termination of their employment verbally at the meeting and also in writing. The employee should exercise the right of appeal by following the Trust s appeal procedure. With respect to the at risk register, managers will ensure, after taking advice from Human Resources and also Occupational Health regarding the employees medical condition, that a full discussion is held with the employee regarding their skills, attributes and the type of alternative post sought. They will also identify, together with the employee s manager, any suitable vacancies which arise and bring these to the attention of the member of staff, arranging where appropriate for a preferential interview to be held. Records will be maintained of alternative posts identified. On appointment to an alternative post, the employee will assume the terms and conditions appropriate to the new post and an amended contract of employment will be issued by Human Resources. NHS Terms and Conditions of Service do allow for termination of employment before the end of the paid absence period and each case should be considered individually. A requirement of an application for ill health retirement is that the employee is permanently incapable of undertaking the role in which they are employed. The Trust will therefore deem the submission of the application for ill health retirement to be an acknowledgement by the employee of this position and will take the necessary steps to terminate employment. It should be noted that a decision regarding eligibility for an ill health retirement pension is a matter for the NHS Pensions Agency and not a matter for the Trust. 8. EVIDENCE BASE CIPD and ACAS websites 9. MONITORING COMPLIANCE The implementation of this policy and its effectiveness will be monitored on an ongoing basis by the Trust Board, Workforce Committee, senior members of the Human Resource Departments and members of the Core Group. This monitoring process will include the consideration of employment relations statistics provided to management groups. In applying this policy and procedure managers, employees and their representatives will have regard to the principles and requirements of the Trust s Equality Scheme. The Trust is committed to equality, diversity and human rights accordingly the implementation of this policy and procedure and its impact will be monitored across all equality strands and reported regularly to the Trust Board. Managers will not discriminate in the application of this policy and procedure in respect of age, disability, race, ethnicity or national origin, gender, religion/belief, sexual orientation, domestic circumstances, employment status, gender identity, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, mental health status, political affiliation or trade union membership. 10. TRAINING REQUIREMENTS Human Resources are responsible for ensuring that the effective management of sickness absence is covered by them in the trust s induction course for all new starters. FV 17/6/

12 In addition, all managers with people responsibilities will be expected to have awareness training to fully understand their responsibilities in the application of this policy. The Deputy Director of Human Resources will be responsible for reviewing this policy and will ensure that anyone involved in implementing this policy will receive training to assist them with these duties. 11. DISTRIBUTION This document will be available on the Human Resource intranet site under policies and a hard copy provided for the Trade Union Representatives and Line Managers. 12. COMMUNICATION As part of their induction all new staff will be made aware of the Trust s Policies and this policy and procedure will be available on the Trust s intranet site. Any changes to this policy and procedure will be communicated to staff via the team brief and additional information and training provided for managers as required. 13. AUTHOR AND REVIEW DETAILS Date issued: Date to be reviewed by: To be reviewed by: Executive Sponsor: The date that the policy is issued Two years after issue Deputy Director of Human Resources The Executive Director who is the sponsor 14. APPENDICES A comprehensive toolkit will be developed as guidance for this policy. FV 17/6/

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