ProcedureType text here. Sickness Absence Management Procedure for Employees based in City Schools/Colleges and other establishments

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1 ProcedureType text here Sickness Absence Management Procedure for Employees based in City Schools/Colleges and other establishments January 2007

2 LEICESTER CITY COUNCIL LOCAL AUTHORITY Sickness Absence Management Procedure Contents Page Introduction 3 Scope 4 Headteacher/Principal sickness absence 5 Procedure Reporting instructions 5 Monitoring and record keeping 5 Medical Certification 6 Sick pay provisions 6 Return to Work meeting 6 Recurring short term sickness absence and trigger points 8 Sources of advice /support in the management of absence 8 Sickness Consultation meeting 8 Possible Outcomes 10 Review meetings 10 Courses of action following the review meeting 11 Warnings 12 Referral to Council s Occupational Health Service 14 Long term sickness 16 Suspension and dismissal on medical grounds 16 Options following a period of long term sickness absence 17 Termination of employment on grounds of ill health 19 Process for the termination of employment on the grounds of ill health 19 Schools without a delegated budget 21 Review of procedure 21 Appendices Appendix 1 Recommended procedure for a Governors Hearing 22 Appendix 2 Recommended model outline of procedure 23 Appendix 3 Recommended model of Sickness Absence Monitoring form 24 2

3 Sickness Absence Management Procedure for Employees based in Schools/Colleges and other establishments The word manager in this document refers to the Headteacher/Principal or other designated manager. The word Headteacher in this document should be read in all cases as Headteacher/Principal The word school in this document should be read in all cases as school/college 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 The aim of this procedure is to establish good management practice and provide a framework within which managers can balance the needs of individual employees with the need to provide a high quality education service for pupils. Unplanned or long term absences can adversely affect service delivery and quality. 1.2 The Governors recognise that they have a committed workforce who strive to ensure that school objectives are achieved. This procedure sets out the Governors expectations of both managers and employees in the management of absence from work, particularly with regard to sickness absence. 1.3 The Governing Body is concerned for the well being of all its employees and seeks to protect the health and safety of staff by creating a safe working environment and also one in which the reduction of workload and the promotion of work life balance are paramount. Governors must recognise that they have a statutory responsibility as laid down in the Burgundy Book, Blue Book and the Green Book. 1.4 In the operation of this procedure the Governors and the school management will show due sensitivity to issues of race, culture, gender or other individual need. In particular, the Governing Body recognises its duty to make reasonable adjustments to an employee s working arrangements or environment where a disabled person is placed at a disadvantage. When illness or injury occurs, appropriate paid leave is given to employees. 3

4 1.5 A positive policy and procedure can assist in the reduction of absence by introducing measures designed to identify issues and ensure appropriate actions by management and individual staff. This will ensure that Headteachers are aware of general and individual levels of employee absence. 1.6 The measures contained in this procedure are not intended to be punitive but to alert employees to the problems caused by sickness absence and to help them overcome difficulties by providing advice and support wherever necessary. 1.7 In return the Governing Body expects its employees to respond in the following ways:- to care for their health and to seek medical help whenever appropriate to attend for work whenever they are fit to co-operate fully with the application of this procedure not to be involved in activities whilst on sick leave which may inhibit recovery to advise their manager in a timely manner of their absence and expected return 1.8 Usually employees will be in attendance at their place of work during their normal working hours. At times, employees may not be available for work for good reason. When such absences occur because of sickness, the good management practices contained in this procedure are aimed at ensuring that the employee receives the necessary support and advice from the Headteacher and, where appropriate, other bodies such as the Human Resources Team. 1.9 It is important that attendance levels are maintained by employees in order for the school to provide a high quality of education for pupils. The procedure sets out how the sickness absence levels of employees will be monitored and how medical advice should be sought where absences continue to occur Schools must take a considerate and sympathetic approach to sickness. The length of time they may wait for an employee s health to improve before considering whether to terminate employment on health grounds, should be reasonable and take account of occupational health guidance, operational pressures and the needs of teachers and staff. However, employees must be aware that extended sickness or recurrent short term absence may not be acceptable and may ultimately result in dismissal on ill health or attendance grounds. 4

5 1.11 In cases where an employee is absent because of an industrial injury, disease, accident or assault the manager should refer to the guidelines on industrial injury and sickness absence, in conjunction with this procedure. A report should be submitted to HSE/RIDDOR where appropriate In cases where an employee s absence is related to his/her impairment /disability, managers should consider the provisions contained in the Disability Discrimination Act legislation, in conjunction with this procedure. The Human Resources Team may assist and advise. 2. SCOPE The Procedure will apply: to all school based staff for whom Governors have personnel responsibility. to all employee sickness absence. to health problems that may not be causing an employee to be absent, but may be adversely affecting his/her performance at work (e.g. adverse effect of medication and treatment, long term medical conditions, drug dependency and alcohol problems). 3. HEADTEACHER/PRINCIPAL SICKNESS ABSENCE This Procedure applies to all school/college staff, including the Headteacher/Principal. If the Headteacher/Principal s absence is a cause for concern, then it will be the responsibility of the Chair of Governors to take appropriate action in line with this procedure. Advice can also be obtained from the Local Authority in these circumstances. PROCEDURE 4. REPORTING INSTRUCTIONS 4.1 It is very important for the management of the school that employees telephone their manager or nominated person according to the individual school procedure on the first day of sickness absence, 5

6 stating the reason for absence (See 5.3 below) and expected date of return. The school will make clear to all staff the reporting instructions that are relevant to their area. If a member of staff is unable to return to work on the day he/she previously indicated then the reporting procedure should be repeated. 4.2 When an employee does not report in as required, and has no good reason for not doing so, then pay for the whole day, and for subsequent days absence not notified, may be stopped. 4.3 It is important that employees continue to maintain contact with their manager, or other appropriate designated person, during their period of absence. However, an employee should only be contacted by the school on a work related issue during a period of absence if this is absolutely necessary. The school must be aware that, in accordance with the Access to Medical Records Act, it is not appropriate for anyone from the school to approach the employee s General Practitioner. 5. MONITORING AND RECORD KEEPING 5.1 In order to deal with absences fairly, it is essential that accurate records for the whole of the school staff are available. 5.2 The school will keep records of all staff absence for Teaching, Management and Support staff, including number of days absence, number of occasions of absence and, wherever possible, reasons for absence. This information is classified by the Data Protection Act 1998 as sensitive personal data and as such must be stored appropriately and accessed by named individuals only. 5.3 Although a member of staff does not have to give the exact medical reason for his/her sickness absence when he/she reports in sick, the presumption is that reasons will be given. This is to enable any appropriate support to be provided or preventative action to be taken and will greatly assist with the management of absence within the school. For absences of a week or more, the reason would be recorded on any doctor s certificate issued. 5.4 Keeping records of staff absence will help to ensure that all staff are dealt with consistently, appropriate medical advice is obtained and that any workplace trends can be established. These may be an indication of areas in which management should focus support or take other pro-active measures. 6

7 6. MEDICAL CERTIFICATION 6.1 If an employee s sickness absence lasts for more than 7 days (including Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays) then a medical certificate or doctor s statement will be required and should be forwarded to the school as soon as possible. 6.2 If the medical certificate/doctor s statement gives the date when the employee is expected to be fit to return to work but the employee is not fit on that date, then the doctor must be consulted again, another certificate/statement obtained and the school kept informed. The medical certificate/statement must run concurrently and should be sent to the school as soon as possible. 6.3 If the employee becomes fit to return to work but the medical certificate/statement has not expired then the employee will be required to return to the doctor to be signed fit to return to work before he/she returns to work. 7. SICK PAY PROVISIONS 7.1 The national sickness pay provisions for school staff are set out in the Burgundy Book for Teachers and the Green Book for Support Staff. 7.2 The periods of full and half pay set out in the sick pay schemes are minimum entitlements other than in exceptional circumstances. 8. RETURN TO WORK MEETING 8.1 The Return to Work discussion should normally be a brief informal meeting between the employee and manager. The meeting provides an opportunity for the employee and his/her manager to consider the following issues, where relevant: whether there are any work related reasons for the absence whether the manager is providing appropriate support to the employee what the reason is for the absence - this should help provide an early indication of any concerns and assist in the appropriate monitoring of workplace trends if relevant, whether the employee is seeking professional medical advice 7

8 The discussion should be a constructive two way discussion conducted in a positive and supportive way. Wherever practicable, the manager should make available to the employee any support and/or advice he/she needs to support his/her return to work. There will be some circumstances where the manager does not feel it is necessary to hold a return to work meeting with an individual because the reasons for the absence(s) are known and are not a cause for concern. For example, where the reason for absence is pregnancy related or where the matter has been previously discussed in some detail. In such cases, the manager should keep a written note on file of why the meeting did not take place. 8.2 It is recommended, under good management practice, that all employees on returning from sickness absence, of whatever duration, are requested to complete and sign a sickness absence monitoring form stating the reason for absence. See recommended form Appendix 3. The information collected will be used, not only to monitor absences, but also to identify any patterns or trends related to health and /or working conditions/environment. It will also be used to check the need for or effectiveness of reasonable adjustments made under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) if the reason is impairment related. 8.3 The sickness absence monitoring form should be signed off by the employee s manager, who may also wish to discuss the reason for sickness absence and whether there are any work related causes of this absence. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations include the need to carry out or review risk assessments. Enquiry into possible work related causes of sickness absence might indicate a need to do this. 8.4 If the employee feels that the reason for absence is of such a nature that he/she does not want to discuss this with his/her manager, then he/she may inform his/her manager that he/she wishes to see an Occupational Health Nurse or a Human Resources Consultant. 8.5 The reason for absence will be noted as personal and confidential. Confidentiality will be maintained unless the health and safety of the 8

9 employee and /or work colleagues or others is at issue, when a report of the effect of the illness, not the nature of the illness, will be made by Occupational Health or the Human Resources Consultant to the employee s manager. The employee will be kept informed. 9. RECURRING SHORT TERM SICKNESS ABSENCE & TRIGGER POINTS 9.1 The majority of staff absences are infrequent and for short periods of time and, as such, are unlikely to be a cause of undue concern to the school. However, it is inevitable that there will be some cases where an employee s attendance record does cause the school concern and it becomes necessary for further steps to be taken by management. 9.2 When a pattern of recurring short term absence or an unacceptable level of sickness absence is identified, the manager will arrange a Sickness Consultation Meeting with the employee concerned. See Section To ensure fairness and consistency of treatment, the Local Authority has set trigger points to determine the level of absence at which further action may be considered. If used these trigger points must be publicised across the school and must be reviewed periodically. 9.4 The Local Authority recommended trigger points are:- NOTE: 3 occasions of absence in any rolling 6 month period 4 occasions of absence in any rolling 12 month period 10 ( working ) days of absence in any rolling 12 months period An occasion is defined as any period of absence of half a day or more. If these trigger points are not used consistency of approach must be evidenced in whatever alternative procedure the school adopts. See also Guidelines for Managers Section 10 Disability Discrimination Act and Trigger points. 10. SOURCES OF ADVICE/SUPPORT IN THE MANAGEMENT OF ABSENCE 10.1 The following sources of advice and support are available to the manager and employee:- the City Council s Occupational Health Service See Section 16 the Human Resources Section or the Local Authority Health and Safety Adviser 9

10 a specialist agency e.g. the Disability Employment Advisers at the local Job Centre, or the Workstep Employment Support Officer at the City Council The employee can also seek advice from his/her own G.P. and from his/her Trade Union or Professional Association. 11. SICKNESS CONSULTATION MEETING 11.1 When an employee s level of absence reaches one of the trigger points or a significant level of concern within whatever alternative procedure the School adopts, the relevant manager should arrange a Sickness Consultation Meeting with the employee There will be some circumstances where the manager does not feel it is necessary to hold a sickness consultation meeting with an individual because the reasons for the absence(s) are known and are not a cause for concern. For example, where the reason for absence is pregnancy related or where the matter has been previously discussed in some detail. In such cases, the manager should keep a written note on file of why the meeting did not take place The purpose of the meeting is to determine and discuss the reasons for absence and what steps have been taken to address any underlying reasons /causes. Where appropriate, this will include considering ways of alleviating any contribution the employee s work environment may be making to the pattern of ill health The employee is entitled to have reasonable written notice of at least 5 working days (less by mutual agreement) of: the date of the meeting who will be present the specific issues to be discussed He/she should be given the opportunity to be represented by another person or a Professional Assoc./Trade Union representative. He/she should also be provided with a copy of this procedure and copies of any documents to be considered including all information relating to the absences. e.g. Occupational Health report 11.5 The manager will: 10

11 respond to any reasonable request by the employee to rearrange the meeting date in order to facilitate representation by his/her chosen representative keep records and notes of the ways in which standards are set and support given to the employee provide a copy of this procedure document to the employee set a review date if appropriate 11.6 The discussions at the Sickness Consultation Meeting might include:- exploring whether there may be some underlying reason causing the level of absence exploring any work related concerns the employee has that may be contributing to the sickness absence exploring whether there is any available counselling or other support which could assist the employee exploring whether the employee is seeking professional medical advice exploring whether there are any Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) implications; for example, whether there is a need to set different standards of attendance for the individual to take account of a disability exploring the possibility of a stress risk assessment where stress is identified as an issue carrying out a risk assessment where stress is identified as an issue establishing a reasonable standard of attendance for the future 11.7 Full opportunity should be given to the employee to comment on his/her position and those comments should be carefully considered by the manager It should be made very clear that the Sickness Consultation Meeting is not a disciplinary interview. However, if the concerns are serious and on-going, then it may be necessary to inform the employee of the procedural steps that may be taken and the possibility of warnings being issued in the future if absence levels do not improve. This would usually only occur at one of the review meetings as it is unlikely that serious and on-going concerns would be identified at the very first meeting The content and outcome of the meeting will be noted and a copy given to the employee and a copy retained on file. 11

12 12. POSSIBLE OUTCOMES The outcomes of the meeting are likely to be one of the following: there are no significant concerns with the employee s attendance. There would be no need for a review meeting in these circumstances refer to Occupational Health for further medical advice (See Section 16) make reasonable adjustments to the employee s working environment to meet the needs of the employee carry out a risk assessment to determine either physical risks in the employee s working environment, or stressors that may be affecting his/her attendance. Action should be taken depending on the outcome Other than in the first outcome above, there should automatically be a follow-up review meeting arranged at the Sickness Consultation Meeting. If the level of absence increases then this may bring forward the review date. In normal circumstances the review meeting will be set for 3-6 months after the Consultation Meeting. 13. REVIEW MEETINGS 13.1 The employee should be given full details of his/her absences, including current Occupational Health reports, prior to attending the meeting. At least five working days notice will be given, in writing, before each Review Meeting and the employee has the right to bring a representative or friend to this meeting if he/she wishes. As with the Sickness Consultation Meeting, notes will be kept and a copy given to the employee. See Sections 11.4 and The purpose of the review meeting is to: check the employee s health and well being and review the support that has been offered to date review the attendance record and progress made towards reducing the level of absence review any actions agreed at the Sickness Consultation Meeting review any advice from Occupational Health, if this has not been discussed already 12

13 13.3 If absence levels are still a cause for concern then discussion may also include: considering any possible consequences of absence levels not improving in the future exploring sympathetically the impact of the level of absence on the pupils, other colleagues and the day to day management of the school 14. COURSES OF ACTION FOLLOWING THE REVIEW MEETING The most appropriate course of action will be determined and, wherever possible, will be an agreed decision between the manager and the employee If attendance has improved: improvements are acknowledged and praised. The need for further review meetings may cease If sickness absence is still a cause for concern, any of the following courses of action may be considered: refer to Occupational Health, if this has not been done previously (See Section 16) consider any problems relating to the employee s work or working environment which may be adversely affecting his/her health, seeking advice and support where necessary advise the employee to seek advice from his/her own GP seek further advice from other specialist agencies e.g. Human Resources, Health and Safety, Disability Employment Advisers consider any reasonable adjustment that may need to be made under the requirements of the DDA, ensuring relevant advice and/or support is obtained consider the need for review and /or changes to relevant risk assessments 13

14 set/re-confirm standards of attendance that, if achieved, would reduce the amount of sickness absence to a level that was no longer a cause for concern issue a formal warning to the employee (see below) that his/her attendance level needs to improve, that the level of absence is too high and further warnings could lead to dismissal. A formal warning would only be issued at the end of a formal review meeting. Referral to Occupational Health must follow a first warning to ensure that medical advice is available for the next review meeting. arrange a follow up review meeting, usually to take place after 3 months but if further deterioration in the level of sickness absence occurs and targets are exceeded, then this may bring forward the review date. issued NB: Dismissal should only occur after a final warning has been and advice sought from Human Resources. in rare and exceptional circumstances ask for a doctor s statement/certificate. The manager may require an employee to produce a doctor s statement for all further absences from the first day of absence. This decision would be reviewed periodically and would not normally exceed six months, when a decision would be made either to stop this arrangement or to refer the employee to the Council s Occupational Health Service if this option has not been considered previously. If an employee has difficulty in obtaining a doctor s statement, he/she will be advised to request a Private statement/certificate, the cost of which will be reimbursed by the school. 15. WARNINGS 15.1 The procedure provides for warnings to be issued to employees by the manager In normal circumstances, if an employee s attendance does not improve to the required standard, then he/she may receive a series of warnings; first written warning, second written warning and final written warning. Warnings will only be issued by the relevant manager at the end of a review meeting and will be confirmed in writing to the employee and a copy put on his/her personal file. 14

15 15.3 A first/second warning letter must include: * a copy of the absence record * confirmation of support given * action taken by employee * action taken by manager to include guidance by Occupational Health * agreed action points NB All of the above points do not have to be rewritten if they have been included in the notes of the review meeting attached to the warning letter. The letter must also include: the required standards for attendance the timescale for the improvement in attendance the fact that if attendance does not improve within the timescale a further warning may have to be issued and this may ultimately lead to dismissal the length of time that the warning will remain live and on file the right to raise an objection against the warning within 5 working days of receiving the warning letter and that the objection must be submitted in writing to the employee s manager a copy of the letter for the employee to sign and return If, at the next review meeting, attendance is still a cause for concern, then the manager may issue a further warning and eventually a final warning A final warning letter must include: reference to the last review meeting confirming discussions and representations copies of actions taken by the manager and employee(this may be the notes of the review meeting) the required standard and timescale for improvement the fact that if attendance does not improve within the timescale a recommendation for dismissal may be made to the Governing Body (unless the Governing Body have delegated the initial dismissal decision to the Headteacher) the length of time that the warning will remain live and on file details of the right of appeal 15

16 Each warning will remain on file for a period of 12 months. A first formal warning is disregarded after 12 months unless a pattern emerges which suggests abuse of the procedure After being issued with a first/second written warning the employee has the right to raise objections in writing to his/her manager who will consider these fully and respond in writing. This documentation can be carried forward and considered at any appropriate future meetings 15.6 If issued with a final written warning, the employee has the right to appeal to Governors. (Warning Appeal Panel) 15.7 If, after issuing the final written warning, attendance does not improve to the required level, then the Headteacher may take the case to a panel of Governors and recommend that the employee be dismissed. The process to be followed in these circumstances is set out in Appendix 1 of this document. If the panel of Governors agree with the recommendation to dismiss, the employee will have a right of appeal against dismissal to a separate panel of Governors. 16. REFERRAL TO COUNCIL S OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (OHS) 16.1 Where appropriate the manager will seek further information about the ill health problem by referring the employee to the Council s Occupational Health Service It is unlikely that referral would be necessary at the first Sickness Consultation Meeting but, if absence continues to cause concern, then referral may become necessary. In the case of long term absence (i.e. 30+ working days continuous absence) referral would normally occur before the sixth week of absence It is essential that the employee and manager have been in regular contact during the sickness absence and that the absence has been reviewed against the individual s previous attendance record A referral to the Occupational Health Service (OHS) will begin any medical investigation, although a decision is unlikely to be immediately available. The Headteacher or other appropriate manager will arrange a meeting, at an appropriate venue e.g. school, HR office or home, to discuss the details of the referral to Occupational Health. The manager will need to request permission to visit the employee at home to discuss the details of the referral to Occupational Health. (See Sections 17.2 & 17.3). However, it is recognised that this may not always be possible or appropriate, and the school will deal with each 16

17 case sensitively, whilst ensuring that the individual is fully informed of the process 16.5 It is important that the content of the medical referral form is discussed with the employee and the employee is given the opportunity to contribute. The completion of the referral form is an open process and it is important that the information is shared. Both manager and employee will sign the referral form. If an employee chooses not to sign this form the referral will still be made. Details about the OHS and what the process involves are included with the referral form The completed referral form should be returned to the Human Resources Section which will send the form to the OHS. On receipt of the form, the Occupational Nurse Adviser will arrange for the form to be screened to determine who should conduct the consultation, a Nurse Adviser or the OHS Doctor Where management require a referral to the OHS, the employee has a duty to attend appointments and to give immediate notice in the rare event of being unable to attend. Failure to attend appointments, without good reason, may lead to disciplinary action and will incur a cost to the school where insufficient notice is given to the Occupational Health Service In rare and exceptional circumstances the Occupational Health Service may, at their discretion and on request from the employee, arrange to visit the employee at his/her home If an employee refuses to see the Occupational Health Service then management will have no choice but to make decisions about the employee s position without the benefit of medical advice. It is therefore in the employee s best interest to see Occupational Health when requested to do so An employee has a right to be accompanied by a friend, family member, colleague, Trade Union or Professional Association representative, at any consultation with Occupational Health and, if this is required, Occupational Health should be informed in advance of the appointment, at the earliest opportunity, in order that they can make the necessary arrangements. Normally, no more than one person will accompany an employee to the Occupational Health Service. 17

18 16.11 The employee may be required to see the Nurse Adviser and/or Doctor and further information may be requested by Occupational Health from the employee s own doctor, with the consent of the employee. The employee has the right to see his/her medical records and should write direct to the Occupational Health Service if he/she wishes to pursue this The Occupational Health Service will send a management report to the school with their recommendations. No details are given about the employee s medical condition as this information is confidential. The report will confirm whether the employee is fit to carry out the duties of his/her post, whether any permanent or temporary adjustments need to be made to his/her working conditions and whether there is, in fact, an underlying medical condition affecting the employee s attendance A copy of the report will be provided for the employee by the school together with the invitation to attend a sickness consultation/review meeting The medical report and advice given by the OHS will be used by management to inform any action taken under the procedure. It should be noted that medical advice is only one factor to be considered by managers. Significant consideration will also be given to the effect of absence on the employee s capability to do his/her job, on service provision and on the education of pupils within the school Where ill health redeployment or ill health retirement is recommended, proceed to Section 19.5 & LONG TERM SICKNESS 17.1 A long term absence may result from a long standing medical condition or be due to a sudden severe or disabling illness/injury. It may not always be clear at the outset if the initial absence will be prolonged and it is important that regular communication is established between the employee and the relevant person at the school It is expected that, in the majority of cases of prolonged absence, the Headteacher or other appropriate manager should be in direct contact with the employee. However, this may not always be appropriate and, in such cases, a staff colleague, family member or Trade Union/Professional Association representative would be identified as a 18

19 suitable link. In all cases it will be necessary for the Headteacher to be kept informed of progress and to receive the medical certificate Sensitivity must be shown to any employee on long term sickness and, for example, no visit would be made to an employee s home if he/she is not happy with this. However, it is important that the employee does not feel isolated or abandoned by the school if he/she is absent for any length of time and that contact is maintained. Meetings should take place at an alternative agreed venue if the school or home is felt by the employee to be unsuitable When it becomes clear that an employee will be absent for a long period (30+ working days continuous absence), referral to the Occupational Health Service should take place at the earliest opportunity. This will begin any medical investigation, although a decision is unlikely to be immediately available. It is hoped that the school would normally have received a medical prognosis at or before 6 months absence The school will keep the employee informed of the content of any Occupational Health reports and the employee will keep the school informed of the progress of his/her case and any prognosis that he/she may have received from his/her own doctor. Where appropriate the Headteacher and the employee can meet to discuss these issues, although the sensitivities with regard to contact, as outlined above, should be maintained. 18. SUSPENSION AND DISMISSAL ON MEDICAL GROUNDS 18.1 Governing Bodies and Headteachers have powers to suspend teachers on medical grounds, but will normally only consider this after seeking advice from the Occupational Health Medical Adviser. Medical Advisers, whose advice is sought regarding cases being considered for suspension or dismissal, should ensure that an assessment appropriate to the circumstances is made before making any recommendations. It should be noted however that a Governing Body or Headteacher can take emergency action where they believe pupils are at risk. In the case of teachers, reference must be made to DfEE Circular No 4/99 and to DfEE guidance booklets on Fitness to Teach, first published in December OPTIONS FOLLOWING A PERIOD OF LONG TERM SICKNESS ABSENCE 19.1 Return to work with no concerns. 19

20 19.2 Return to normal duties following therapeutic return. This is a procedure whereby an employee can undertake a phased return over a temporary period (usually half a term in length). During this period he/she would work reduced hours and/or reduced duties, gradually increasing his/her work until he/she is fit enough to undertake the full range of duties at his/her previous hours of work. Further details can be found in the Therapeutic Return Procedure document Temporary/permanent change in duties/hours/working environment in existing post. The school will carefully consider whether it is possible to make any adjustments to the employee s working hours, duties or working environment to facilitate a return to work Making reasonable adjustments under the Disability Discrimination Act This could include adjustments referred to in (19.3) above, but may also include the provision of specialist equipment and/or services to facilitate the employee s return to full duties and/or to alleviate any health problems where possible Ill Health Redeployment. The Occupational Health Doctor or Nurse Adviser may recommend that the employee is unfit to continue to work in his/her current post but may be fit to carry out lighter duties, for example a post with less stress, less responsibility or reduced physical demands The employee would have a right to a second medical opinion if he/she was unhappy with this medical recommendation. The second medical opinion is provided by a doctor with an appropriate specialism, recommended by the City Council If the member of staff is in agreement with the recommendation to seek ill health redeployment (or if the second medical opinion still confirms that ill health redeployment is appropriate) then a period of 3 months (which may be extended to 6 months at management discretion in the case of a disabled employee) will be agreed in which the school will attempt to find the employee alternative work elsewhere in the City Council. Employees should be made aware that these opportunities can be limited. In the case of finding work at another school, this will be at the discretion of the receiving Governing Body, but for non-school posts in the City Council, priority consideration will be given to the member of staff in line with the redeployment procedure. Further advice is available from the Human Resources Team. 20

21 19.8 Before the redeployee commences employment in a new position, Occupational Health will need to confirm his/her fitness to undertake this new role There will be a trial period in the new post of up to 2 months to ensure the redeployee is fit to undertake the duties of the post and that his/her medical condition has not been/will not be exacerbated. The employee will be entitled to a minimum of 3 months protection of pay following ill health redeployment During the trial period the employee will be seconded from his/her school. If the trial period proves unsuccessful then the employee will return to the school and if, at the end of the redeployment period, it has not been possible to find the employee an alternative post, then his/her employment with the school will come to an end. The procedure to be followed in these circumstances is the same as that laid out in Section 21. In circumstances where dismissal takes place, appropriate notice payments will be made based on full pay While the employee is awaiting redeployment he/she would normally remain on sick leave and would be paid the appropriate rate of sick pay. If the employee s own doctor has certified that he/she is fit for work (but he/she is unfit to return to his/her substantive post) then he/she would either be suspended on medical grounds or the school would attempt to find the employee alternative suitable work during the redeployment period Consideration for ill health retirement If a member of the Support Staff is in the Local Government Pension Scheme and is permanently unfit for work, then ill health retirement would be recommended and the ill health certificate signed by the Occupational Health Physician. If the employee disagrees then he/she has a right to a second medical opinion as outlined in (19.6) above. If, after receipt of the second medical opinion, he/she still disagrees with the doctor s recommendation, the employee will have the right to put his/her case before a panel of Governors. There would then be a right of appeal to a further Governors Panel (see below) If a Teacher is permanently unfit for work he/she may apply for ill health retirement through the Council s Occupational Health Service via the Human Resources Section. 21

22 To qualify for retirement benefits under the Teachers Pensions Regulations a member will need 2 years pensionable employment completed after 6 April 1988 or 5 years of pensionable employment at any time. Ill health benefits can be paid at two different levels depending on the severity of the illness. These are: Total Incapacity Benefits (TIB) TIB may be awarded if the teacher is assessed as being permanently unable to teach and unable to undertake any other gainful employment. Partial Incapacity Benefits (PIB) PIB would be awarded if the teacher is assessed as being permanently unable to teach but able to do other work. If ill health retirement is recommended by the Occupational Health Service and the DfES Medical Advisers accept that the pension scheme s eligibility criteria have been fulfilled then the employee s contract will be terminated from the date of receipt of pension. Further information may be seen on the Teachers Pension website or by telephoning or writing to Teachers Pensions, Mowden Hall, Darlington DL3 9EE. If a teacher has been absent from work for a significant period and wishes to pursue ill health retirement, the Governing Body will determine whether to hold his/her post open for him/her while he/she pursues this option or moves to termination of employment on the grounds of ill health as indicated below. The statutory dismissal procedure will apply. 20. TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT ON THE GROUNDS OF ILL HEALTH 20.1 If the employee is NOT permanently unfit for work BUT is unlikely to return to his/her post in the foreseeable future, then termination of employment on the grounds of ill health may occur. The statutory dismissal procedure will apply The length of time allowed before a return to work is required must be reasonable. The school should take into account all the medical evidence received from Occupational Health before reaching a decision 22

23 to terminate employment. However, the decision will be a management decision and the Headteacher will need to take into account the effect of the absence on the school when determining the length of time it is possible to hold the employee s post open for him/her to return to. In normal circumstances, by the 6 calendar month stage (excluding holiday periods), the school must be reasonably confident that the employee will return in the foreseeable future There may be some circumstances where an employee is absent from work for a considerable period of time, for example where he/she is awaiting an operation, but the prognosis is good and there is an excellent prospect of a full return to previous duties. In such circumstances, the manager may well wish to consider keeping the post open for a longer period. 21. PROCESS FOR THE TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT ON THE GROUNDS OF ILL HEALTH 21.1 The Headteacher, employee and his/her representative (and a Human Resources Consultant, if required by the school) will meet to discuss the contents of the medical report. This meeting may form part of the statutory dismissal procedure (see ) provided that reasonable written notice of at least 5 working days has been given to the employee of all issues to be discussed and who will be present. There are 3 possible outcomes: The employee agrees with the medical report and with the recommendation of the Headteacher to terminate employment The statutory dismissal procedure will apply. However, sensitivity must be shown to any employee on long term sick leave and the frequency and method of contact should be adjusted where appropriate to meet the circumstances of the employee. For example, no visit would be made to an employee s home if he/she were not happy with this. Meetings could take place at an alternative venue if the school or home is felt by the employee to be unsuitable. The Headteacher will write and arrange to meet with the employee in line with the statutory dismissal procedure. A letter will be sent to the member of staff confirming the outcome of the meeting and offering the right of appeal. A copy of this letter should be signed by the employee to confirm that he/she agrees with the termination of 23

24 his/her contract and does not wish to appeal against the decision to terminate employment When the school receives the signed letter, the school should instruct the Local Authority to issue the letter of dismissal to the employee. The employee would be entitled to relevant contractual/statutory notice pay, which would be based on his/her full pay rate, even if his/her sick pay had ceased. This will be paid by the school The employee agrees with the medical report, in so far as he/she feels that he/she can no longer continue in employment, but he/she wishes to have access to his /her pension This is outside the remit of the Governing Body and therefore it would not be appropriate to convene a Governors hearing as outlined below If the employee is in the Local Government Pension Scheme then he/she would have a right of appeal to the Secretary of State. This is accessed via the Pensions Section at the County Council If the employee is in the Teachers Pension Scheme then he/she would need to apply through the Human Resources section to the Council s Occupational Health Service. If the Council s Medical Adviser recommends ill health retirement this decision would be forwarded to Teachers Pensions for consideration If the employee agrees with the decision of Termination of Employment see Section 21.2 above for procedure The employee does not agree with the recommendation of the Headteacher to terminate employment If the employee wishes to challenge the medical report then he/she can request a second opinion from a doctor recommended by the City Council If the second opinion doctor is in agreement with the City Council doctor s original prognosis (or if the employee does not wish to take up a second medical opinion) and the employee does not agree with the recommendation to terminate employment, then a panel of Governors should be convened to consider the recommendation to terminate employment The employee will be informed that the Headteacher will be recommending termination of employment to a panel of Governors. 24

25 The employee is entitled to have reasonable written notice of at least 5 working days (less by mutual agreement) of: the date of the hearing who will be present the issues to be discussed the right to be represented by another person or a Professional Assoc./Trade Union representative The employee should have a copy of any documents to be considered including all information relating to the absences, including Occupational Health report and should be provided with a copy of this Procedure The Director of Children and Young People s Services will be entitled to send a representative to attend the hearing and comment on the issues under consideration. The Headteacher should advise the Human Resources team The employee will have the right to make representations to the Governors panel. The process to be followed at this Governors hearing to consider dismissal is set out in Appendix If the decision of the Governors panel is that the employee should be dismissed, the employee will be informed that he/she has a right of appeal to a further panel of Governors. The appeal, stating the reason, should be in writing and be lodged with the Clerk to the Governors within 5 working days of the decision. The appeal hearing follows the same process as the original hearing. See Appendix If the Appeal Panel supports the first panel s decision (or if the employee does not wish to appeal) then the Governing Body should request that the Local Authority terminate the individual s employment on health grounds. Appropriate notice payments would be made as outlined in Section The reason for termination would be health reasons and NOT disciplinary reasons. The Governors hearing would not be a disciplinary hearing but would be to consider the continued employment of the employee. 22. SCHOOLS WITHOUT A DELEGATED BUDGET If a school is in this position, the Department will allocate an appropriate person to manage this procedure. Where the Governing Body has a role within this procedure, these functions would normally be carried out by a panel of two LA officers and a Governor. 23. REVIEW OF PROCEDURE 25

26 This procedure will be subject to periodic review. 26

27 RECOMMENDED PROCEDURE FOR A GOVERNORS HEARING TO CONSIDER DISMISSAL ON HEALTH GROUNDS APPENDIX 1 1. Introduction by the Chair and explanation of the procedure 2. The management representative (usually the Headteacher) should put the case for the proposed termination of contract. 3. The employee (or his/her representative) may ask questions of the management representative. 4. The Panel members and the Director of Children and Young People s Services representative may ask questions of the management representative. 5. The employee (or his/her representative) should put the case against the proposed dismissal. 6. The management representative may ask questions of the employee and his/her representative 7. The Panel members and the Director of Children and Young People s Services representative may ask questions of the employee and his/her representative 8. The management representative should sum up their case 9. The employee or representative should sum up their case 10. The management representative and employee and his/her representative should leave while the Governors panel reaches a decision 11. The meeting reconvenes and all parties are informed of the decision Notes The Governors panel should consist of at least 3 independent Governors and may include Interim Executive Board (IEB) members. Note: For centrally based staff 3 Local Authority officers will replace Governors. The Director of Children and Young People s Services (or representative) has the right to attend the hearing and to comment on the issues under consideration. The employee has the right to be represented at the hearing. 27

28 This procedure may be varied with the agreement of all parties. In cases of dismissal for either short term recurring or long term absence the employee would have a right of appeal to a further panel of Governors. The process to be followed would be similar to that outlined above. A member of the Human Resources team will advise the panel on the procedure where the HR service is purchased. APPENDIX 2 OUTLINE OF PROCEDURE Example of possible routes through the procedure Absence Return to work meeting Recurring short term absence see Trigger points Long term absence Sickness consultation meeting Occupational Health referral 1 st review meeting Medical report 2 nd review meeting Medical report See Procedure document for options to follow this meeting 28

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