ATTENDANCE MANAGEMENT AND REHABILITATION POLICY. 1. Introduction

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1 1. Introduction Throughout this Policy, the words Translink Company and/or the Group refer to all corporate entities under the ownership of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHC). This includes the parent company and each subsidiary either individually or taken together as a group. 2. Scope The company understands that employees may sometimes be unwell and that as result of ill-health or injury, they may be unable to work for a period of time, whether for just a day or two or on a longer term basis. The company aims to deal positively and sympathetically with employees who have medical conditions or injuries which affect their ability to work normally, whether or not they have taken sick leave and to help and encourage employees to achieve and maintain the company standards of attendance. There is an urgent and on-going need for the company to maintain absence levels to an absolute minimum in line with good governance and our commitment to provide an effective and efficient transport service to the public. This policy applies to all staff employed by the operating companies of Translink. The company aims to deal fairly and reasonably with all those who have either frequent periods or extended periods of sickness absence. In the context of managing sickness absence the company will seek to conform with the Disability Discrimination Act and will apply its Code of Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities. All employees should familiarise themselves with this policy so that they know what is expected of them should they become ill and unable to attend work and what support they can expect from the company. 3. Attendance Standard The company is greatly encouraged by the many employees within Translink who have excellent attendance records over several years. Employees are expected to attend work regularly in order to maintain high standards of service and safety. Any absence from work is a cause for concern by the company and might warrant further investigation. For example, the return to work interview will be used as an opportunity to discuss with employees their attendance, make them aware of their absence levels, remind them of the attendance standards and identify any health and safety or job related issues on return. 1

2 Management will formally review the absence records of employees under their responsibility each quarter for the periods ending 31 st March, 30 th June, 30 th September and 31 st December. In carrying out their reviews of absence records management will follow minimum satisfactory standards of attendance guidelines. Employees will have breached these guidelines if:- they have more than one occasion of sickness absence in the last three months, they have more than three occasions of sickness absence in a rolling twelve month period, they have more than two occasions of sickness absence totaling ten or more days in a rolling twelve month period, there is an exceptional pattern of absence considered as unacceptable by the company but does not necessarily result in a breach of the above standards, e.g. repetitive absences on particular days of the week. Where employees have infringed the attendance standards defined above, their manager will carry out a formal review of their overall attendance record, taking into account any other relevant information relating to their attendance before deciding whether to take formal action in accordance with the process outlined in section 7 procedure Notifying the Company of Absence and Keeping in Contact On the first day of absence employees must notify their line manager by telephone, as early as possible and in compliance with procedures appropriate to their grade, that they are not coming to work and how long they anticipate being away from work. In the exceptional circumstance of their line manager not being available, they should instead contact an equivalent level manager within their department or location or their line manager s nominee. Employees are expected to make the call themselves where at all possible, not ask someone to make it on their behalf. In line with the company s duty of care towards employees who are absent through illness, the need for ongoing contact arrangements during the period of absence will be determined between employees and their manager. Normally employees will be asked to keep in telephone contact on at least a weekly basis. If it becomes clear that absence has or is likely to become long term, employees and their manager will agree how frequently contact should be maintained with the company. 2

3 Failure to comply with the notification procedure and contact requirements set out in this policy may result in: 1) employees not being eligible for company sick pay and, in some circumstances, SSP, and 2) absence by employees being treated as unauthorised, which may result in disciplinary action. 5. Certification of Illness In addition to notifying the company of their absence, employees must submit to their line manager or immediate supervisor, a sickness claim form covering any absence of no more than seven calendar days. This must be submitted as soon as possible and no later than the eighth calendar day. These are available from their line managers. If employees are absent for longer than seven days they must submit regular doctors statements to their line manager or immediate supervisor for subsequent forwarding to payroll. If employees are still absent on the expiry of their previous doctor s certificate, they must send another one to their line manager or immediate supervisor covering any further absence, to arrive by the day after their previous certificate expires. Failure to submit appropriate medical certification within these time frames can result in stoppage of pay. The company reserves the right to require employees to provide a doctor s medical certificate to cover any absence lasting less than eight days. Providing medical certification to the company on a regular basis is an important aspect of this policy and if employees fail to provide such certification they may not be eligible for company sick pay, or in some cases, SSP. In such circumstances the company may treat absence as unauthorised, which could result in disciplinary action being taken. 6. Return to Work Employees are required to give notice to the manager or manager s nominee of their intention to resume work following illness in accordance with such arrangements as are agreed within their division or department. 3

4 7. Return to Work Interview (RTWI) A return to work interview will normally be carried out by the manager or manager s nominee as soon as employees are fit to resume work following a period of sickness absence. In cases where employees are not due to return to their normal workplace for any reason immediately following a period of sickness absence, the RTWI should be conducted over the telephone or at a suitable location. The RTWI will be carried out as soon as is reasonably practicable following the return to work. The several purposes of RTWI s include the following: to check that employees are fully recovered and fit to return to work, confirm with the employee details of any medication they have taken/are taking which may affect their work, to indicate to employees that their absence was noticed and that they were missed, to identify if any reasonable and practical steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of future absence. The RTWI is not a disciplinary meeting and as such employees will not be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. A form will be completed for each RTWI, a copy which will be available on Sharepoint. 8. Attendance Review Procedures The company recognises that employees can sometimes be too unwell to attend work and that they need time off to recover properly. However absences, whether caused by sickness or not, affect Translink s ability to serve the public and can place an extra burden on colleagues. In view of this the company, as set out in section 2, has identified the minimum satisfactory standards of attendance. Therefore, as outlined in section 2 the company, on a quarterly basis, will formally monitor the absence levels of employees and, where appropriate, will take action to bring about an improvement as follows: Procedure 1 - Persistent Absences With regard to any of the stages of procedure 1, employees may choose to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a fellow employee. 4

5 Recorded Verbal Absence Warning Should your attendance record need to be improved, your line manager will hold a meeting with you to discuss your absence record and the reasons for it. Normally, if your line manager holds such a meeting with you, it will result in you being given a recorded verbal absence warning unless there are mitigating circumstances which are taken into account and result in no formal action being taken. If formal action is taken then during the next six months period you will be expected to meet the minimum satisfactory standards of attendance set out in section 2 of the policy. If you meet these standards your absence warning will lapse. You have a right of appeal to the next level of management against such a warning which must be made in writing within seven calendar days. Written Absence Warning If, during the currency of your recorded verbal absence warning, you have not met the standards required, then your line manager will hold another meeting with you to discuss your absence level and the reasons for it. Normally, if your line manager holds such a meeting with you, it will result in you being given a written absence warning unless there are mitigating circumstances which are taken into account and result in no formal action being taken. If formal action is taken then during the next twelve months period you will be expected to meet the minimum satisfactory standards of attendance set out in section 2 of the policy. If you meet these standards your written absence warning will lapse. You have a right of appeal to the next level of management against such a warning which must be made in writing within seven calendar days. Final Absence Warning If, during the currency of your written absence warning, you have not met the standards required then your line manager will hold another meeting with you to discuss your absence record and the reasons for it. Normally, if your line manager holds such a meeting with you, it will result in you being given a final absence warning unless there are mitigating circumstances which are taken into account and result in no formal action being taken. If formal action is taken then during the next eighteen months period you will be expected to meet the minimum satisfactory standards of attendance set out in section 2 of the policy. If you meet these standards your final absence warning will lapse. You have a right of appeal to the next level of management against such a warning which must be made in writing within seven calendar days. You have a final right of appeal should you wish to call upon this. This is to the appropriate divisional executive and should be submitted in writing within seven calendar days of receipt of the first appeal decision. 5

6 Dismissal If, during the currency of your final absence warning, you have not met the standard set, the company will write to you asking you to attend a meeting to discuss your absence level and the reasons for it. Your level of absence will be discussed at the meeting and may result in your being dismissed with notice. You will have a right of appeal to the next level of management against your dismissal which must be made in writing within seven calendar days. You have a final right of appeal should you wish to call upon this. This is to the appropriate divisional executive and should be submitted in writing within seven calendar days of receipt of the first appeal decision. Notes The company may, at its discretion, start the absence warning procedure at any stage or level where, in its view, the employee has an exceptional pattern of absence considered as unacceptable. Employee sickness absence arising from an assault or a traumatic incident at work will not be considered under procedure 1. The relevant absence warning forms applicable under this policy are obtainable on Sharepoint (Attendance Management and Rehabilitation Policy/Forms). Procedure 2 Long Term Absence Procedure 2 is aimed at employees who have an underlying medical condition which is preventing them from working normally, perhaps causing them to have frequent shortterm absences or, alternatively, a long-term period of absence. Normally in such cases, the company will apply its duty of care towards its employees by activating Procedure 2. Rehabilitation Measures UK absence figures indicate that the longer employees are off sick, the less likely it is that they will ever return to work, which is in no-one s interests. By maintaining open and frequent communication with employees who are affected by long-term absence and ensuring that relevant medical information is available to both parties, the company hope to be in a better position to offer employees the assistance they need to get back to work earlier or to improve attendance levels, as appropriate. This will 6

7 involve actively considering possible rehabilitation measures with employees on an ongoing basis, eg phased in return, temporarily reduced hours. Procedure 2 will apply to employees, as follows:- The company will; keep your absence(s) under review, maintain regular contact with you, as and when appropriate, which may include periodic case meetings, both to keep us informed of your progress and to keep you informed of what has been happening at work in your absence, seek medical reports, which may also involve you attending for medical examinations with our company Doctor, where appropriate, identify and consider with you possible rehabilitation measures which might help you to improve your absence record or to return to work earlier than might otherwise be possible, eg phased in return, temporarily reduced hours, keep any rehabilitation measures that we have implemented under review on an ongoing basis. Your help and co-operation is required at all stages of procedure 2, including the implementation of any rehabilitation measures. Given that the measures in procedure 2 are aimed at enabling you to continue successfully in employment, a refusal to cooperate could affect your future prospects of employment and your entitlement to company sick pay. Procedure 3 Termination of Employment Regrettably, circumstances may arise where it becomes necessary to consider your future prospects of employment with the company. If so, we will, normally hold a meeting with you to formally review your past and probable future pattern of absence, taking account of any medical advice and the likely success of any reasonable rehabilitation measures, as well as the needs of the business. We will write to you in advance of the meeting explaining why and when a meeting will be held. In some circumstances, for instance where there is no prospect of you being able to return to work within a reasonable period of time, the review may result in your employment being terminated with notice. You have a right of appeal to the next level of management against your dismissal which must be made in writing within seven calendar days. You have a final right of appeal should you wish to call upon this. This is to the appropriate divisional executive 7

8 and should be submitted in writing within seven calendar days of receipt of the first appeal decision. Termination of employment will only be appropriate where:- a. There is clear medical evidence that you are not fit for work in your present job or will not be fit within a period for which it would be reasonable for the company to keep the post open; and b. Other alternatives including transfer to other work or the consideration of reasonable adjustment as required under the Disability Discrimination Act or ill-health retirement have been fully investigated; and c. You have been told of management s provisional view and given an opportunity to make representations either personally or through your representative. If you dispute the medical evidence you or the company may present further medical evidence, but the company Doctor s decision will be final. Termination will always be with at least the relevant statutory notice, and full pay during the period of notice (a one off payment in lieu of notice may be taken as an alternative with the employment terminating with immediate effect whether or not entitlement to sick pay has been exhausted.) Wherever possible employees whose health is expected to improve within a reasonable period should be retained in employment with an entitlement to return to work in the event of certified recovery. 9. Obtaining Medical Information The company may, at any time, ask you to attend its company Doctor or other health professional or we may ask your permission to seek a medical report from your own doctor. This is to enable us to get a clear picture of your capabilities, diagnosis and prognosis. This information may be used to consider and implement measures aimed at assisting you to reduce your absence levels or return to work and/or to comply with our health and safety obligations. It may also be taken into account when making decisions about your future employment. If you do not co-operate in providing medical information, you should be aware that the company will have to consider your case, and this includes a decision such as whether or not your employment should be terminated on the basis of the information available to it. You may also lose your eligibility for company sick pay. 8

9 10. Procedural Steps In normal circumstances, you can expect the following procedural steps to be followed by the company. Other than in exceptional circumstances, the company will not issue a recorded verbal, written or final absence warning or dismiss you under procedure 1 or 2 without:- Giving or sending you a letter explaining why a meeting is being held and when and where it will be. This letter will also set out details of your attendance record, any relevant current warnings and possible outcomes of the meeting. If you have difficulty understanding such a letter you should ask your line manager for an explanation; Before the meeting, providing you with all relevant information, including, if appropriate, any medical reports; Giving you, together with any Trade Union representative or colleague, a reasonable opportunity to consider your response to that information, and Explaining the company s position at the meeting and giving you an opportunity to put your case. The company will confirm in writing the outcome of any meeting where a recorded verbal, written or final absence warning or dismissal is considered. Appeals If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of a formal meeting under the absence warning system, then you can appeal the decision. Appeals should be made in writing, to the next level of management within 7 calendar days and a final level of appeal in cases of final written warning or dismissal to the divisional executive. The company will inform you of the outcome of the appeal in writing. Formal Meetings All formal meetings and appeals will be held at a reasonable time and place and employees may choose to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a fellow employee. An employee who has been invited to attend a formal meeting or appeal must take all reasonable steps to attend the meeting. The company will not unreasonably delay any formal step of the procedures set out within the policy. 9

10 11. Injury at Work All accidents and any injury, however slight, which occur whilst on company premises, or on authorised company business, must be reported by employees as soon as possible to their line manager. Employees should refer to the company s Health & Safety Policy for further details on the procedure to follow. Employees can access this policy through their line manager. Full details must be given as to how the injury was sustained, together with its nature and extent. These details must also be recorded on an accident form which can be obtained from your line manager. 12. Unauthorised Absence Unauthorised absence is recognised by the company as absence from work without permission or reasonable excuse. Failure to follow the company notification of absence procedure will also be recognised as unauthorised absence. This would normally be regarded as a serious breach of discipline and will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure. 13. Taking Holidays During a Period of Sickness Absence If employees are absent from work through sickness or injury and wish to avail of a holiday during their absence the following procedure must be followed. The company view this as a positive opportunity, in most cases, to support employees recovery to full health and return to work. Employees must in the first instance contact their line manager and outline the request. Normally the line manager, after consultation with human resources will grant the request if it is in the best interests of the employee s recovery. In some instances the company may require employees to attend the company doctor or provide written evidence from their doctor that a holiday would be of benefit to their recuperation process. If authority is granted by the line manager employees will cease to receive sick pay and be paid holiday pay for the relevant period and have this period deducted from their annual holiday entitlement. Employees on return from holiday will, if covered by appropriate medical certificates, revert back to sick pay. The company has the right to 10

11 withhold authority from employees to go on holiday if it believes it is not in their best medical interest and may hinder their recovery and subsequent return to work. In making such a decision the company will seek professional medical advice. Employees who go on holiday whilst on sick leave without notifying the company may be subject to disciplinary action and the withholding of both statutory and company sick pay. 14. Sick Pay Scheme The company s sick pay scheme is a separate but related policy. 15. Status of this Policy This policy does not confer any contractual rights on individual employees. The company reserves the right to alter any of its terms at any time, following consultation with the recognised trade unions. Employees will be notified in writing of any changes. Whilst this policy is not a disciplinary procedure, its provisions can in some cases lead to dismissal. 16. Application of the Policy The company s aim is to apply this policy fairly and consistently to all employees. 17. Related Policies Employees may find it useful to review other related policies in conjunction with the Attendance Management and Rehabilitation Policy. These include: Sick Pay Entitlement Flexible Working Policy Time off for Dependants Policy 11

12 18. Previous Versions of Policy Original issue date: July 2006 Revised: May 2010 Revised: November

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