POLICY FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF ABSENCE DUE TO SICKNESS

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1 Directorate of Organisational Development & Workforce POLICY FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF ABSENCE DUE TO SICKNESS Reference: OWP007 Version: 1.0 This version issued: 31/05/12 Result of last review: N/A Date approved by owner (if applicable): N/A Date approved: 29/05/12 Approving body: Trust Executive Team Date for review: May, 2015 Owner: Deputy Director of Organisational Development & Workforce Document type: Policy Number of pages: 8 (including front sheet) Author / Contact: Jane Heaton, Deputy Director of Organisational Development & Workforce Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust actively seeks to promote equality of opportunity. The Trust seeks to ensure that no employee, service user, or member of the public is unlawfully discriminated against for any reason, including the protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act These principles will be expected to be upheld by all who act on behalf of the Trust, with respect to all aspects of Equality.

2 1.0 Purpose The following policy (and the associated procedure) sets out how absence due to sickness will be managed. It is designed to ensure all managers adopt a fair and consistent approach to the management of sickness absence, taking due account of individual circumstances. 2.0 Area This policy applies to all employees of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 3.0 Duties 3.1 Employee to ensure they attend work in accordance with their Contract of Employment and any absence due to sickness is communicated in a timely and effective manner, ensuring regular contact is maintained during any absence. 3.2 Line Manager to manage employee absence, in accordance with both the policy and the procedure documents, in a timely, effective and fair manner. In addition, provision of accurate and timely sickness absence data to the ESR Bureau. 3.3 ESR Bureau to input sickness absence information in a timely and accurate manner, as appropriate and in conjunction with e-rostering. 3.4 Staff Side Organisations to support employees being managed under this policy, when approached by an employee who is a member of their organisation, i.e. offering advice and attending formal meetings (as outlined in the associated procedure). 4.0 Principles 4.1 The overriding priority of the Trust is to provide the highest possible standard of health care to our patients. The regular and reliable attendance at work of all Trust employees is essential to achieve this. Employees have a responsibility to attend work in line with their Contract of Employment. 4.2 The Trust recognises that on occasions it may be necessary for employees to be absent from work for different reasons and has developed employment policies and practices which strike a balance between supporting those who need to be absent and where appropriate taking action in order to minimise the disruption to services. Employees should be reassured that they will be treated fairly and that their contribution is valued. 4.3 It is also recognised that individuals within the workforce may have complex mental and physical health conditions that may benefit from greater understanding, adaptation or work design. The Trust will, wherever reasonable, provide support to these individuals, which will enable them to work longer and by doing so ensure the Trust remains an employer that retains the skills and talent of the workforce. Printed copies valid only if separately controlled Page 2 of 8

3 4.4 High levels of absence in a department can have a detrimental effect on the quality of the service provided, and places an additional burden on colleagues and affects working relationships. The objective for the Trust must be to identify problems at the earliest opportunity, support and work with individuals to aid their recovery and achieve a return to work within an appropriate and reasonable timescale. This needs to be progressed within a process that allows for open discussion within an agreed framework, together with each case being considered on its own merits. 4.5 This policy is designed to enable all Line Managers to manage sickness absence in a fair and consistent manner, and to inform employees of how such cases will be handled. The Trust will ensure information and support is provided to line managers on how to ensure adequate records of absence are kept, how to monitor and deal with sickness absence, which will include whether absence falls under this policy or another related Trust employment policy such as special leave. Support will also include how to conduct return to work interviews, how to manage individuals with unsatisfactory sickness records and practical ideas for improving attendance. 4.6 The Trust has a duty of care to its employees and is committed to their health, safety and welfare at work. The Trust aims to reduce the causes of ill health to staff in the workplace, thereby reducing and preventing absence, and therefore it will follow and promote practices to achieve this including any work related issues that may affect an individual s ability to attend work. 4.7 There is a mutual responsibility by the employer and the employee to comply with Health and Safety requirements, reporting injuries and dangerous occurrences (RIDDOR) and all staff should familiarise themselves with this. 5.0 Absence Management Process 5.1 For the purpose of this policy, absences of less than 28 days are classified as short term and absences of 28 days and more are classified as long term. 5.2 Although all absences due to sickness will be dealt with in a fair and consistent manner, it is recognised that each case will have differing circumstances and various factors to take into account. For these reasons, when dealing with sickness absence due to serious underlying health issues there may be some management discretion as to the instigation of the Formal Stages as outlined in the procedure document. Printed copies valid only if separately controlled Page 3 of 8

4 6.0 Responsibilities 6.1 All employees of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust must ensure they are aware of and understand this policy and the associated procedure. It is an employee s responsibility to notify their manager if they are going on holiday whilst absent from work due to sickness and this time will be deducted from their annual leave entitlement. 6.2 Employees should not undertake employment elsewhere whilst on sick leave unless authorised by their manager as this may constitute fraud and would be subject to both criminal and internal disciplinary procedures. 6.3 Failure to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action. Abuse of sick pay regulations or knowingly submitting false claims for sick pay will be regarded as gross misconduct and may result in summary dismissal and/or criminal prosecution. 7.0 Equality Act (2010) 7.1 In accordance with the Equality Act (2010), the Trust will make reasonable adjustments to the workplace so that an employee with a disability, as covered under the Act, should not be at any substantial disadvantage. The Trust will endeavour to develop an environment within which individuals feel able to disclose any disability or condition which may have a long term and substantial effect on their ability to carry out their normal day to day activities. 7.2 The Trust will wherever practical make adjustments as deemed reasonable in light of an employee s specific circumstances and the Trust s available resources paying particular attention to the Disability Discrimination requirements. 8.0 Phased Return to Work 8.1 The Occupational Health Department will assess an individual, and advise on the types of duties and specific time periods that they are capable of undertaking. This advice will be considered against the exigencies of the service. For any short-term sickness absence we would not normally envisage a phased return to be necessary. 8.2 For long-term sickness absence where Occupational Health recommends a structured programme for rehabilitating/phasing/trialling for work, the Trust will, wherever possible, support such a programme and employees will continue to receive full pay for their contracted working hours for up to a maximum of four weeks. Any programme between two and four weeks may be facilitated by the use of the employee s annual leave. After four a temporary reduction in contracted hours will be discussed. When using annual leave, the employee must retain a pro rata amount of their annual leave in relation to the remaining period of their annual leave year, e.g. 9 months remaining, entitlement of 29 days per year, the employee would not be expected to use more than a quarter (7 days) of their annual leave to facilitate a structured return. Printed copies valid only if separately controlled Page 4 of 8

5 9.0 Sick Pay Arrangements in Specific Circumstances 9.1 Suspension from duty to prevent the spread of infection Special leave with pay will be provided to staff that are suspended by their Manager from their contracted duties because of infection control. Alternative duties will be considered as appropriate following advice from Occupational Health and/or Infection Control. The Trust will pay the salary and allowances, to which the employee would have been entitled, for the duration of the special leave. 9.2 Sickness absence as a result of infectious illness contracted at work Where an employee contracts an infection which causes absence from work, and should the Manager following advice from Occupational Health consider beyond doubt that they contracted the infection at work, this period of sickness absence will not count towards their sickness record for monitoring purposes. 9.3 Accident due to professional sport or negligence Sick pay allowances will not be paid for absence resulting from an accident due to active participation in a sport as a profession, or where contributable negligence is proven, or there is involvement in criminal activity. 9.4 Injury sustained on duty A period of absence due to injury sustained by an employee in the actual discharge of their duty will be recorded as sickness absence but not counted for monitoring purposes. However, as in the case of long term sickness absence, if it is apparent that a return to work within a timely period is not likely, options including termination of contract may have to be considered. Any accident sustained at work must be recorded in line with Health and Safety requirements and Trust policy Temporary Injury Allowance This is a temporary benefit which may be payable to employees who are injured as a result of an industrial injury or disease and who are receiving half pay or no pay. In general terms, temporary injury allowance tops up the total pay to a guaranteed income of 85% of pre-injury pay Permanent Injury Benefit 11.1 Where, as a result of an industrial injury or disease, an employee s contract of employment is either terminated or has to be varied to the detriment of that employee, an application for permanent injury allowance may be made to the Department of Health To be eligible to submit a claim, employees must have reported the injury to their line manager immediately after the incident/accident and must have completed an incident form which notifies the Health and Safety Department of a possible RIDDOR incident at work as per the Incident Reporting Policy. The Health and Safety Department will then inform the ESR Bureau that the employee has sustained an injury at work and may be entitled to injury benefit. Printed copies valid only if separately controlled Page 5 of 8

6 12.0 Recovering damages from a Third Party In circumstances where an employee is absent as a result of an accident and is able to recover damages from a third party, the employee must refund to the Trust the sick pay that they have received to the value of the damages awarded. During any such period of sickness the Trust will continue to pay occupational sick pay allowances, according to the employee s entitlement, in the usual way. Any period of absence in such a case where a refund of monies is made in full shall not count for the purposes of sickness absence monitoring and any sick pay allowance they have used in relation to this period of absence will be reinstated Sickness Absence and Annual Leave 13.1 Employees becoming ill during annual leave must produce a Fit Note from a GP or Specialist, or an appropriate medical certificate if taken ill whilst on holiday abroad, covering the period of illness. For the period covered by the Fit Note or medical certificate they will be recorded as being on sick leave and annual leave will be reimbursed Where annual leave cannot be taken due to a period of long term sickness absence this will be accrued during paid sickness absence and where this absence falls between two annual leave years, employees can stop sickness absence in order to take their annual leave, and then resume sickness absence if they are still unable to return to work Extension of sick pay 14.1 Sick pay for those who have exhausted sick pay entitlements may be reinstated at half pay after 12 months of continuous sickness absence only in exceptional circumstances and defined in the Terms and Conditions of Service and following agreement with the Director, Lead Manager and Human Resources Reinstatement of sick pay may continue until the final review meeting has taken place, and is not retrospective for any period of zero pay in the preceding 12 months of continuous absence. This provision will only apply where the failure to undertake the final review meeting is due to delay by the Trust, not a delay by the employee Monitoring Compliance and Effectiveness The Director of Organisational Development and Workforce will be responsible for reviewing the policy on an annual basis in conjunction with staff side colleagues and other key stakeholders, to identify whether any changes are required as a result of nationally agreed policies and/or legislation and to monitor its overall efficiency. The HR Department will continue to monitor sickness absence levels and trends and work with managers to ensure the appropriate monitoring continues. Printed copies valid only if separately controlled Page 6 of 8

7 16.0 Associated Documents This document relates to, and should be read in conjunction with, a number of other Human Resources documents, specifically: Sickness Absence Procedure Sickness Notification Pro-Forma Self-Certificate Pro-Forma Return to Work Interview Pro-Forma Notice of Concern Letter Formal Stage 1 Meeting Notes Pro Forma First Written Warning Formal Stage 2 Meeting Notes Pro-Forma Final Written Warning Long Term Sickness Review Pro-forma Maternity Leave Policy and Associated Procedure Disciplinary Policy Managing Performance Policy Grievance Policy Special Leave Policy Incident Reporting Policy Health and Safety Policy 17.0 References NHS Terms & Conditions of Service Handbook Part 3, Section 14: Sickness Absence Access to Medical Records Act Equality Act Health and Safety Act Temporary and Permanent Injury Allowance NHS Pension and Ill Health Retirement Scheme Printed copies valid only if separately controlled Page 7 of 8

8 18.0 Definitions None Consultation This policy has been subject to consultation with key stakeholders including staff side and management representatives Dissemination All Trust employees Implementation From date of ratification by the Executive Team. The electronic master copy of this document is held by Document Control, Office of the Medical Director, NL&G NHS Foundation Trust. Printed copies valid only if separately controlled Page 8 of 8

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