Managing Sickness Absence Procedure. Management Guidance

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1 Managing Sickness Absence Procedure. Management Guidance Related Documents: Absence Policy 1. Purpose 1.1. The aim of this procedure is to ensure Tees Valley YMCA adopts a fair and effective approach to the management of sickness absence which take in consideration any exceptional circumstances that are present. Tees Valley YMCA will take reasonable measures to support employees Tees Valley YMCA recognises that unmonitored absence can have a crucial impact on the use of its limited resources and that it needs to manage this appropriately in order to work efficiently Sickness absence can vary from short intermittent periods of ill-health to a continuous period of long-term absence and have a number of different causes (for example, injuries, recurring conditions, or a serious illness requiring lengthy treatment) Tees Valley YMCA wishes to ensure that the reasons for sickness absence are understood in each case and investigated where necessary. In addition, where needed and reasonably practicable, measures will be taken to assist those who have been absent by reason of sickness to return to work. 2. Scope 2.1 This procedure applies to all staff employed within Tees Valley YMCA, but not to employees of other agencies or volunteers or consultants of self-employed contractors. 2.2 Unless stated otherwise, this procedure does not form part of employee s contracts of employment and can be amended at any time. 3. Sickness Absence Notification 3.1. Planned Absence; Employees must inform their line manager immediately if they know they are going to be off sick e.g. attendance at hospital for an operation Unplanned Absence If employees are prevented by sickness, injury or other incapacity from carrying out any of the work which they are employed to do, they must notify their line manager by telephone Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 1 of 9

2 of absence at the earliest opportunity and no later than 30 minutes from the start of the employee s normal working day. The employee must also do this every subsequent day of absence for the first seven days of absence. The following details should be provided: (a) The nature of the illness or injury. (b) The expected length of the absence from work. (c) Contact details. (d) Any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention Managers should ensure that: (a) Any sickness absence that is notified to them is recorded. (b) Arrangements are made, where necessary, to cover work and to inform colleagues and clients (while maintaining confidentiality) Employees should expect to be contacted during their absence by their line manager who will want to enquire after their health and be advised, if possible, as to their expected return date Night shift/ relief staff must notify their line manager at the earliest possible time on the day prior to shift starting The frequency and timing of the contact in the case of absences exceeding seven days will be agreed on a case by case basis, but, as a minimum requirement, the employee should keep line managers informed throughout the period of absence, on at least a weekly basis. If an employee is absent due to ill health the employee will be required to give details of the nature of the illness and an indication of their anticipated length of absence. Where days of absence span a weekend, the weekend days count towards the absence period Employees should note that leaving a message with a colleague will not be acceptable. It is a requirement for staff to telephone their manager personally and if not another manager of the same seniority or above unless it is an exceptional case where they are too unwell to do so, in which case a family member must make the call. Text messages will not be acceptable also. The manager reserves the right to make direct contact with the employee if the employee fails to speak with the line manager Self- Certification Employees must complete an absence form (self-certification form) and a return to work form for absences of seven days or less, immediately after their return to work. This should be countersigned by the Chief Executive or Senior Manager as soon as possible, but in any event, no later than two working days following the return date. For an absence of more than seven days, in addition to completing the absence form the employee will be required Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 2 of 9

3 to obtain a medical certificate from their GP/other treating doctor (a Statement of Fitness for Work ) and forward this to personnel within two working days of issue. If the employee's absence continues after the expiry of the first certificate, further certificates must be obtained as necessary to cover the whole period of absence and forwarded to the employee's line manager within two working days of issue. Where days of absence span a weekend, the weekend days count towards the absence period. Where Tees Valley YMCA is concerned about the reason for absence, or frequent short-term absence, it may require a medical certificate for each absence regardless of duration. In such circumstances, Tees Valley YMCA will cover any costs incurred in obtaining such medical certificates, for absences of a week or less, on production of a doctor's invoice Cases of unauthorised absence will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure. Absence that has not been notified according to the sickness absence reporting procedure will be treated as unauthorised absence. 4. Recording of Sickness Absence 4.1. It is essential that managers maintain staff absence records. Tees Valley YMCA records absence through staff timesheets, and Self-Certifications Forms and Return to Work Records. For each employee it is important to demonstrate accurate details of all sickness, including reasons for absence and all other leave. 5. Returning to Work 5.1. When an employee returns to work following a period of absence due to ill health, they are required to attend a Return to Work Interview. The line manager will complete a Return to Work Form with the employee. The return to Work interview will be conducted within three working days of the first day of return/on the first day of return. A return-to-work interview enables Tees Valley YMCA to confirm the details of the employee s absence. It also gives the employee the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions they may have, and to bring any relevant matters to Tees Valley YMCA s attention. Where the employee s doctor has provided a certificate stating that they "may be fit for work" Tees Valley YMCA will usually hold a return-to-work interview to discuss any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate the employee s return to work, taking account of their doctor's advice Where a Line Manager / Senior Manager / CEO has serious concerns about the level or pattern of absence they may, following a return to work meeting, deal with it under the Company's Absence Review Procedure below Where an employee wishes to return to work prior to the date noted on a medical certificate they must obtain a signing-off note from their general practitioner before attending for work if Tees Valley YMCA has concerns about the employee s fitness to return. Where an employee's general practitioner advises that an employee is not fit to return to work, they will not be permitted to return. Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 3 of 9

4 5.4. The Tees Valley YMCA is aware that sickness absence may result from a disability and will comply with its obligations to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act If employees consider they are affected by a disability or any medical condition which affects their ability to undertake their work, they should inform their line manager Tees Valley YMCA will, wherever possible, consider all reasonable adjustments which could be made in respect of an employee's work in order to facilitate their return to work or to assist them after a return to work. Such adjustments may include a reduction in hours, the transfer of certain duties to other employees, physical adjustments and retraining. Such adjustments may be adopted on a temporary or permanent basis depending on the circumstances of each case. 6. Holidays 6.1. If a staff member is sick whilst on annual leave, the staff member can make a request to claim their annual leave back to use at a later date. If a staff member complains that their holiday had been affected by sickness or injury, Tees Valley YMCA will allow the worker to reschedule the affected holiday in certain circumstances, while taking steps to protect the organisation against any abuse of the policy. If staff wish to claim their holiday back they must; report sickness to their manager on the first day as in normal practice if they were at work; make a request in writing; including information such as the dates of illness; If staff have visited a health professional, Tees Valley YMCA would require this additional medical evidence; Tees Valley YMCA may require medical evidence for longer periods of sickness 6.2. Workers who become sick during statutory holiday should be entitled to take the sickness affected holiday at a later date., however employees are deemed to take the 4 week element of statutory leave first in the holiday year 7. Management of Short term / Frequent Absence 7.1. Managers who identify concerns regarding an absence or patterns of frequent absence will ask the employee to attend a sickness absence review meeting. Guidance, support and advice are available from a Senior Manager In preparation for the meeting the manager will need to gather as much information as possible about the nature and reasons for the absences. Key questions to be considered may include:- Is there any discernable pattern to the absence, for example regular absences on Mondays or Fridays, every Christmas etc.? What proportion of absence is self-certified or certified by a medical practitioner? What reasons have been given for previous absences? Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 4 of 9

5 Are the causes varied or does there appear to be a linkage between the reasons for absence? What information has been gathered from previous return to work interviews? 7.3. Stage 1 - Conducting an Absence Review Meeting: The employee should be offered the opportunity to be accompanied by a trade union representative or workplace colleague The purpose and style of the meeting should be positive and be an opportunity to discuss the facts about the employee s absence. The manager should make it clear that they are not questioning that the reasons for the absences are real, unless they have reasonable grounds for doing so The employee should be helped to understand the effect their absence has upon colleagues, service users and the organisation The discussion should explore the reasons for the absence and identify steps to be taken to reduce future absence levels. The employee should discuss with the manager any issues that may be affecting their attendance e.g. work related issues, personal problems being experienced It is important to try to gain a full picture of all of the factors that may be contributing to the absence level in order that an action plan can be put in place to support the individual to improve their attendance record. This can include a stress assessment. Where it is identified that the individual is experiencing personal problems, the manager should consider any practical help that may be available e.g. different work hours, work pattern, carer assessment etc The manager and the individual should try to identify any reasonable steps that could be taken to support the individual to improve their attendance. It is the employee s responsibility to attend work regularly and they should be aware of the impact on others when they are absent. If the absences may be due to an underlying health problem, a referral to Occupational Health can be made. It is important that as much information as possible is sent with the referral to help Occupational Health in their assessment A manager may wish to include the following questions when making a referral to Occupational Health: The likelihood of the condition / illness recurring The ability of the employee to regularly attend work in the future Whether the employee s condition is regarded as a disability and if so, if there are any reasonable adjustments that can be made to support the employee. Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 5 of 9

6 Whether there any other support services available to the individual e.g. staff counselling services, physiotherapy services or external agencies The review meeting should conclude with the employee being aware that their attendance will be monitored over the next three months. Failure to maintain their attendance at work will result in a Stage 2 meeting being held and normally a written warning being issued at the time it is identified that no improvement has been made. A Stage 2 review meeting will be held at the end of the 3 month period when people sustain a satisfactory improvement in attendance to acknowledge this An accurate record of all discussions should be made of any sickness absence review meeting. A copy of the record should be forwarded to the employee Stage 2 Meeting Employees will be afforded the right to be accompanied to the review meeting by a trade union representative or a workplace colleague If the employee has achieved the required standard:- Inform the employee of this and recognise the improvement. Remind the employee that they are expected to maintain the improvement in attendance in the future. Continue to monitor the employee s levels of sickness absence If the employee has failed to achieve the required standard:- The manager will have gathered the necessary evidence before the meeting with the employee. At the meeting the manager will share the information with the employee and tell them that they have failed to meet the required improvement. Unless there are exceptional circumstances the manager will issue could consider issuing a written warning which would usually for a period of twelve months. During the 12 month period of the warning, if one is imposed, if there is no improvement a Stage 3 Review meeting will be held and a Final Written Warning could be issued which would usually be for a period of 18 months. This meeting will be held with a manager senior to the person who issued the written warning The meeting can take place when it is identified that the individual s attendance at work is not improving; there is no requirement to wait for the full 12 month period before a Stage 3 meeting is held. A letter confirming the outcome of the meeting will be sent to the employee by the manager, including information about their right to appeal against the decision of the manager should disciplinary action have been taken. Appeal timescales and arrangements shall be consistent with the terms of the Disciplinary Policy Stage 3 Meeting The employee will have the right to be accompanied at the meeting by a trade union representative or a workplace colleague. Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 6 of 9

7 The manager will:- consider the level of absence and the impact the absences are having on the service provision, colleagues and the organisation. They will consider the level of support or adjustments made available to the individual to improve attendance; they will consider where available, Occupational Health advice and recommendations consider whether there has been enough time for any health issues to be reasonably addressed The manager may decide on the following: A Final Written Warning, usually for 18 months, may be issued. Where there is an ongoing health condition, there may be a search for suitable alternative employment within the organisation as part of a fair process before making a decision to dismiss. The manager may request some advice from occupational health however Tees Valley YMCA is not under any obligation to create a new role A letter will be sent to the employee confirming the main points discussed and outcomes of the meeting; including information about their right to appeal against the decision of the manager should disciplinary action have been taken If the individual's attendance does not improve then a Final Sickness Absence Hearing should be arranged Stage 4 Final Sickness Absence Hearing The meeting will be led by a Senior Manager. Before any decision is made, the manager must consider the following:- Has there been a fair review of the employee s attendance record and reasons for absence? Has the employee had the opportunity to attend the meeting to present their case? Is there documentary evidence available to demonstrate that the procedure has been followed? Have the relevant warnings been issued? The manager will then decide on the action to be taken, which may be dismissal with the appropriate period of notice on the grounds of the individual's inability to attend work on a regular basis and failure to maintain an acceptable level of attendance The employee will be informed of their right to appeal against the decision of the manager should disciplinary action have been taken. 8. Long Term Sickness Absence 8.1. The primary aim in dealing with cases of long term absence should be:- to help the employee return to work, in some capacity, as soon as possible. (This may include a phased return to work, temporary reduction in hours, reasonable adjustments) to maintain regular contact. Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 7 of 9

8 8.2. In line with the reporting of absence the employee will have contacted the manager to inform them they were unable to attend work. An indication of the likely length of time they are to be absent should have been given by the employee. As soon as it is identified that the period of absence is likely to be long term i.e. over 4 weeks then a referral can be made to Occupational Health If following this period of time they are still unwell employees are required to contact their manager to update on the situation. A record of all telephone conversations should be maintained using external communication logs It is important that in order to avoid premature and unnecessary ill health retirements consideration be given to a range of interventions as early as practically possible and at the latest within one month of an employee commencing sick leave Exploratory Meeting: When an employee is on long term sick leave the manager must arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss their situation. It is expected that the meeting will take place no later than 4 weeks after the first day of absence. The meeting will usually take place at Tees Valley YMCA but in certain circumstances due to the employee's state of health it may be appropriate to meet at an agreed alternative venue Review meetings and decision dates should take place regularly and take account of any occupational health information and the individual s sick pay entitlements. There must be a final review before sick pay ends The employee should be advised of their right to be accompanied at the meeting by a trade union representative or a workplace colleague The meeting will give the manager the opportunity to:- ascertain how the employee is progressing, ascertain whether further treatment / tests are being undertaken ascertain from the employee an indication of the possible envisaged length of time they may be absent from work Discuss and agree with the employee arrangements for maintaining regular contact and agree a review date In circumstances where the reason for absence is identified as work related stress advice should be sought from Senior Manager who will at the earliest opportunity and consideration given to arranging a meeting with the employee to discuss the work related issues, carry out a stress assessment and the option of referring to Occupational Health. Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 8 of 9

9 9. Time off for doctor s appointment/ medical appointments 9.1. Tees Valley YMCA does support staff with time off for medical appointments; however we do request that staff make these visits outside work hours or at the beginning/ end of the working day Where staff members take time out of work to attend an appointment they will be require to provide evidence of the appointment to their line manager. Issue: 1 Tees Valley YMCA Page 9 of 9

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