CONTENTS. What is long term sickness? Page 2. Keeping in Contact during Absence Page 2. Medical Certificates Page 2

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2 CONTENTS What is long term sickness? Page 2 Keeping in Contact during Absence Page 2 Medical Certificates Page 2 The Role of the Occupational Health Service Page 2 Access to Health Records Act (1990) Page 3 Returning to Work Page 4 Return to work on full duties Page 4 - no changes required Return to work temporary changes Page 4 made to your role Inability to return to your role Page 5 Redeployment to another post Page 5 Ill health retirement Page 6 o Local Government Pension Scheme Page 6 o Teachers Pension Scheme Page 7 Termination of employment due to Page 7 medical capability Appealing against the termination of your Page 8 employment Employee Assistance Programme Page 8 Sick Pay Provisions Page 8 Confidentiality and Record Keeping Page 8 Health & Wellbeing Policy and Guides Page 9 Reference to Other Policies Page 9 Appendix One: Flowchart of Processes Underpinning Longer Term Sickness Absence Page 1 of 12

3 What is long term sickness? Long term sickness absence is a period of continuous absence that lasts for four weeks or more (including non-working days and bank/statutory holidays). For sickness absences of less than four weeks you should refer to Supporting You During Sickness Absence. Copies are available from Human Resources and Organisational Development or on the University website. Keeping in Contact During Absence Regular communication between you and your line manager should normally be maintained during your period of long term sickness absence, with meetings at the workplace arranged in advance. A representative from Human Resources and Organisational Development and a Trade Union representative or workplace colleague may also attend these meetings as appropriate. It is acknowledged that maintaining communication during periods of longer term absence may not be appropriate in all cases the University, in discussion with you, will determine the frequency of contact that is appropriate. Medical Certificates During your period of sickness absence, you should ensure that you submit medical certificates from the eighth day of sickness absence and thereafter during your period of absence. You must forward the medical certificate to your line manager within three days of the due date or following the expiry of any previously supplied medical certificates. The University needs to ensure it retains accurate and timely sickness absence records. Failure to provide a medical certificate may result in the University's sick pay provision being withheld. Your medical certificate must be from a General Practitioner or from the hospital at which you are receiving treatment which is regulated by the General Medical Council. A certificate from any other source will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances. The Role of the Occupational Health Service You may be referred to the Occupational Health Service if the University needs to find out more about your sickness absence or there is some concern about the length of your sickness absence, or your health and ability to carry out your duties on your return. Essentially, the purpose of the referral is to provide guidance to your manager regarding your medical circumstances. The Occupational Health Service provides independent advice about your fitness to work and any possible adjustments you may need in the workplace in order to accommodate any medical condition you may have. The University has a contractual right to require you to undergo a medical examination(s) by the Occupational Health Adviser at any time during your employment. The Occupational Health Adviser may liaise with other medical practitioners for further advice/examination. Should you refuse to see the Occupational Health Adviser, or fail to attend for an appointment(s), the University would be unable to obtain the appropriate medical advice to give full consideration to your circumstances. In such circumstances the University will be left with no alternative other than to make a decision about the appropriate course of action based on incomplete information. Page 2 of 12

4 Where the length of absence and return date can be predicted with some certainty, e.g. where someone may require routine surgery, referral to the Occupational Health Service in the early stages of the period of sickness absence may not be necessary. Human Resources and Organisational Development will keep your line manager informed of progress with the referral process. During this time you should keep your line manager informed of any developments concerning your sickness absence. Human Resources and Organisational Development and the line manager will agree on the process of communicating the occupational health advice/recommendations to you this will usually be through a meeting between you and your line manager. In certain circumstances, Human Resources and Organisational Development and where appropriate a Trade Union representative or workplace colleague may also attend the meeting. The recommendations made by the Occupational Health Adviser will normally relate to one or more of the following: A return to work (either to full duties or temporary duties) Redeployment to another post if possible Ill health retirement, subject to the conditions of the pension scheme being fulfilled Termination of employment due to medical capability Each of these areas are discussed later in this guide, and you should read the sections appropriate to your circumstances. A flowchart is also contained in Appendix One to explain the processes involved with each. Access to Health Records Act (1990) The Access to Health Records Act (1990) gives individuals the right to see their personal medical records. A General Practitioner/Health Adviser may only restrict access to these if they consider that disclosure may be harmful to you. The Occupational Health Adviser will often consider it necessary to seek information about your medical condition from your own General Practitioner or Consultant. In such circumstances, you would be asked to sign a consent form at the Occupational Health consultation meeting in accordance with the Access to Health Records Act (1990). This would provide you with the following options: To agree to the application for a report and to indicate that you do not wish to see it before it is given to the Occupational Health Service To agree to the application, but indicate that you do wish to see the report, requesting that your General Practitioner or Consultant amends any incorrect or misleading statements, if necessary To withhold, or later withdraw consent, for the report to be made, if you wish. Returning to Work When you are fit to return to work you should resume your duties as soon as possible and advise your line manager that you will be returning. If this is before the expected return to work date, you should contact your line manager to confirm this. Page 3 of 12

5 As you will have been absent from work for a period greater than four weeks, it will normally be necessary for you to submit a medical certificate confirming your fitness to return to work. In addition, the University may require you to follow advice received from the Occupational Health Service as part of this return to work. If you have been absent from work and are covered by a medical certificate but wish to resume work prior to the expiry of your medical certificate, you must ensure that you submit a medical certificate confirming your fitness for the early return to work. If you are not well enough to return to work when expected, you should contact your line manager and inform them of the expected delay in return and the reasons for this. This should be within one hour after the commencement of your usual start time on the expected return date. Following a period of long term absence, your return to work may follow one of the following options: 1. Return to your role on full duties - no changes required to your role 2. Return to work with temporary changes made to your role Each return route is now described in this guide. Return to Work on Full Duties No Changes Required to Your Role On the first day back at work, you must report to your line manager who will conduct a return to work meeting with you. Your line manager would wish to understand your overall wellbeing during this meeting, which may also cover a discussion about the nature of the period of illness, the length, frequency and pattern of absence, any underlying issues or circumstances that the University should be aware of, any rehabilitation into the workplace needs, any health & safety issues and the consequential effect of your sickness absence on team colleagues. If your line manager is in any doubt as to your fitness to work, he/she may wish to seek further advice from Human Resources and Organisational Development, who may suggest that you visit your General Practitioner and/or the Occupational Health Service for further advice. In exceptional circumstances where it is considered that you may not be fit to return to work, the University reserves the right to require you to return to sickness absence and visit your General Practitioner and/or Occupational Health for further advice. The University has introduced an attendance threshold. This measures your sickness absence record over a twelve month period against a threshold figure, and this will be discussed as part of the meeting. The majority of staff are unlikely to exceed the threshold value even if they have a period of longer term absence. However, if you did, this threshold is used to alert managers that a level or frequency of absence has been reached that may be a cause for concern and therefore needs to be discussed more fully. This information would then be considered by your manager in order for him/her to determine the appropriate next steps. These discussions are designed to be supportive and helpful to both the manager and you. In normal circumstances no further action will be taken. In exceptional circumstances, where there is a cause for concern regarding a sickness absence history, and no satisfactory conclusions reached, then a caution may be issued. This process is described Page 4 of 12

6 more fully in Supporting You During Sickness Absence. Copies are available from Human Resources and Organisational Development or on the University website. Return to Work Temporary Changes Made to Your Role On the first day back at work, you must report to your line manager who will conduct a return to work meeting with you. This will follow the same process as if you were returning to work on full duties, with no changes required to your role as described above. If you have been referred to Occupational Health during your period of sickness absence, the Adviser may advise that temporary arrangements are made in order to assist your return to work. These recommendations will have been discussed with you previously, at a meeting with your line manager, as part of the keeping in contact arrangements during your period of sickness absence. These temporary arrangements will again be confirmed during your return to work meeting. Temporary arrangements may include: Adjusted duties working on the less physically/mentally demanding duties of your role over a recommended period of time Reduced responsibility working at a level of less responsibility than the grade of your role Phased hours working less hours than your contract initially, increasing these as appropriate or a combination of these. These temporary arrangements will be of short duration, normally for up to six weeks to facilitate your return to work at the required level as quickly as possible. When you return to work following a period of sickness absence, your normal rate of pay will be reinstated. In order to ensure a smooth return to full duties where temporary changes have been put in place, you will receive your normal rate of salary for a period of up to six weeks. Where the temporary changes continue for a longer period, ie greater than six weeks, your salary will be adjusted accordingly, to the actual hours being worked or the level of responsibility being undertaken. You and your line manager will regularly review any temporary arrangements, to assess your progress in your return to full duties. In certain circumstances, during these temporary arrangements, it may be appropriate that you be referred again to the Occupational Health Service for further advice. The intention of such a referral would be to obtain further information regarding the likelihood of your return to full duties, accompanying timescales and any further reasonable modifications that could be made by the University to facilitate this. If your progress during the period of time when temporary arrangements are in place is less than satisfactory, and following further advice from Occupational Health, it may be necessary to consider a redeployment. Further details are provided in the section entitled Inability to Return to Your Role. Page 5 of 12

7 Inability to Return to Your Role In certain circumstances, based on medical advice from the Occupational Health Services, it may not be possible for you to return to your role on either a permanent or temporary basis. The University will, therefore, follow the Occupational Health advice with a view to: Redeployment to another post Ill health retirement Termination of employment Each of these areas are discussed in this guide. Redeployment to Another Post If a return to full duties is not possible in your substantive role, or the required level adjustments cannot be made, redeployment opportunities will be investigated in accordance with the medical advice received and the University s Redeployment Procedure. A copy of the University's Redeployment Procedure can be requested from Human Resources and Organisational Development or is available on the University's website. The University has a good track record in redeploying staff to other roles within the University however, this is most successful when you and Human Resources and Organisational Development work together proactively to think about what skills and experience you possess which you could bring to another role. A member of Human Resources and Organisational Development will work with you during the redeployment search with the aim of identifying suitable reasonable alternative positions within the University for which you could be considered. If you are redeployed to another post on health grounds and the redeployed post is the only alternative employment available, the University will apply salary protection in accordance with the Salary Protection Policy, where your current post grade is higher than the new posts grade. A copy of the University's Salary Protection Policy can be requested from Human Resources and Organisational Development or is available in the University's website. In certain circumstances it may not be possible to appoint you to a suitable vacancy within the identified time period. If this is the case, you would be informed by a member of Human Resources and Organisational Development that your employment cannot continue and will therefore be terminated. Ill Health Retirement The University operates two pension schemes for University employees Teachers Pension Scheme and the Local Government Pension Scheme. Each pension scheme has different regulations and procedures relating to ill health retirement. Ill Health Retirement (Local Government Pension Scheme) If you are incapable of performing your role at the University, and all other redeployment opportunities have been explored, you may be considered for ill-health retirement. Ill health retirement applies to an individual who contributes to the Local Government Pension Scheme where medical advice has been received from the Occupational Health Service and confirmed by an independent medical adviser, recommending that you are Page 6 of 12

8 permanently incapable of discharging efficiently the duties of your employment because of ill-health or infirmity of mind or body. The level of benefits due is based upon a further medical decision as to whether you are capable of undertaking any other gainful employment before normal retirement age, and if so, whether this will be within a reasonable period of time. This is based on a three tiered approach for entitlement to pension benefits. The three tiers are: 1 st Tier Permanently unfit to undertake the role up to the age of 65 with no prospect of undertaking any employment in the future. In these circumstances, full pension benefits available. 2 nd Tier Permanently incapable of undertaking the role and assessed as being unable to obtain gainful employment within a reasonable period (ie likely to work again after three years and up to the age of 65). 3 rd Tier Permanently incapable of the role, but may be able to get gainful employment within the next three years. The decision to grant ill health retirement is based on the medical opinion received. Details of pension benefits due will be provided by the County Pension Fund who administer the Pension Scheme and ensure that the regulations of the fund are fully complied with. In cases where ill-health retirement is not approved you have the right of appeal under the Local Government Pension Scheme, Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure. You would be provided with a copy of this at the time when you are advised of the Pension Scheme s decision. Where ill-health retirement is not granted the University would be left with the only remaining avenue of terminating your employment on the grounds of medical capability as outlined above. Ill Health Retirement (Teachers Pensions) You may apply for ill health retirement if you contribute to the Teachers Pensions Scheme. Members of the Teachers Pensions must make an application of ill health retirement to the Pension Scheme. There are two levels of benefits that may be awarded by the Teachers Pension Scheme: Total Incapacity Benefits where you are assessed as being unable to undertake any type of gainful employment in the future. Partial Incapacity Benefits where you are assessed as being permanently unable to teach but can do other work in the future. Where you do not apply, do not wish to apply or are not accepted for ill health retirement by the Teachers Pension Scheme, the University would be left with the only remaining avenue of terminating your employment on the grounds of medical capability as outlined above, providing that attempts at redeployment have been unsuccessful and concluded. The date of termination of employment stated by the University will be final and is not subject to change. The late submission/acceptance of a request for ill health retirement to Page 7 of 12

9 the Teachers Pensions would not invalidate the University date of termination of employment. In such cases of a late submission and/or late acceptance by the Teachers Pension Scheme the University can still progress with the termination of the contract without invalidating your application for consideration of ill health retirement by the Teachers Pension Scheme. It should be noted that under the Pension Scheme regulations, members who have recently left pensionable employment, or who have recently taken periods of sick leave, maternity, paternity, adoption leave or career breaks must apply for ill health benefits within specified time limits or benefits may be affected. Further details are available from Human Resources and Organisational Development, or via the Teachers Pension website (www.teacherspensions.co.uk). Termination of Employment due to Medical Capability The University has a successful track record in assisting staff back to work following periods of long term sickness absence either to their substantive role or to a new role, through the Redeployment Procedure. However, where a member of staff is:- i) advised by the Occupational Health Service as being considered medically unsuitable for their substantive post and ii) following a process of redeployment search where appropriate, no suitable alternative is found, accepted or completed and iii) where the continued absence is not sustainable and iv) ill health retirement is not appropriate, or has been considered but not granted the University will need to terminate the individual s contract of employment. In these circumstances you would be invited to a meeting with your line manager to discuss this matter. A member of Human Resources and Organisational Development and a Trade Union representative or workplace colleague would also attend this meeting. At the meeting a member of Human Resources and Organisational Development would explain to you the process involved in the termination of the contract of employment and your entitlements. This would then be confirmed by letter following the meeting. On receipt of this letter you may wish to consider appealing against this decision. The process for appeal is outlined later in this guide. Appealing against the Termination of Your Employment If the University has determined that your Contract of Employment will be terminated, you may wish to appeal against this decision. If you wish to proceed with an appeal, you should inform the Executive Director of Corporate Services within five working days of the date of the letter notifying you of the decision to terminate your contract. The termination of your employment will not take effect until the outcome of your Appeal has been determined by the Appeals Panel. If you were to appeal against a decision to Page 8 of 12

10 terminate your contract you would continue to receive the appropriate level of pay until the Appeal is heard and a decision reached by the Appeal Panel. The Appeal against termination of employment will be heard by a member of the Board of Governors (not a staff or student representative) who has not previously been involved in your case. You may lodge an appeal on the following basis: Perceived unfairness of the judgement made by the University New evidence coming to light Procedural irregularity Please note that you do not have the right of appeal against the recommendation of a medical advisor. In addition, an appeal relating to access to ill health retirement provisions is not a University decision and should therefore be pursued directly with the relevant pension scheme through their procedures. A member of Human Resources and Organisational Development will be able to provide more advice to you on this matter. Employee Assistance Programme The University provides an Employee Assistance Programme. The aim of this service is to provide all its employees with a free, confidential source of advice on issues of concern to them. The Employee Assistance Programme is based on a telephone helpline staffed by specially trained advisors, who can be contacted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on a strictly confidential basis. Contact details are available from Human Resources and Organisational Development and are published on publicity materials displayed around the University. Callers to the helpline will be given support, advice and information to deal with any issues they may be facing. The helpline service can be complemented by face-to-face counselling. Sick Pay Provisions The University's scheme of sick pay provisions are designed to provide financial support during a period of sickness. These are contained in your contract of employment or in a document entitled Sick Pay Provisions available from Human Resources and Organisational Development or the website. Confidentiality and Record Keeping It is necessary for the University to keep accurate records for periods of sickness absence these are maintained by Human Resources and Organisational Development. These records are kept in order to calculate sickness payments, to notify you when your entitlement to University sick pay and/or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has ended; for absence monitoring purposes and in order that the Occupational Health Adviser has as much information as possible in the case of a referral to the Occupational Health Service. Human Resources and Organisational Development may provide senior managers with information about sickness absence levels by employee Section, Faculty or Service, or for the University as a whole. Such reports will usually only provide information on levels of absence, but if it should be necessary to include reasons for absence, such information will be treated in strict confidence. Any report on the reasons for sickness absence which is made more widely available, will be written in an anonymous format and in such a way, that it is not possible to link the sickness absence reasons to a particular member of staff. Page 9 of 12

11 Information on the number of days sickness absence taken by a member of staff may also be given to other employers in response to a reference request or third party organisation where there is a statutory requirement placed upon the University All information will be maintained in accordance with the Data Protection legislation and the University s Data Protection (Employment Records) Policy. A copy of this policy is available from Human Resources and Organisational Development upon request, or the University website. Health & Wellbeing Policy & Guides Full details of the University s Health and Sickness Absence Management Policy and supporting arrangements are outlined in the following documents: Health & Wellbeing Policy Supporting You During Sickness Absence Managing Attendance Managing Longer Term Sickness Absence These are available from Human Resources and Organisational Development on request, or on the University website. Reference to Other Policies On occasions, an employee may need to be absent from the University not due to his/her own personal illness or injury. In such circumstances, an individual may wish to consider the appropriateness of one of the other University policies: Family Leave Policy: Maternity Leave Paternity Leave Parental Leave Adoption Leave Special Leave Policy: Crisis Leave Bereavement Leave Court Service Public and Extraneous Duties Medical & Dental appointments Study Leave Interview Attendance Authorised Leave (Unpaid) Annual Leave Policy Flexible Working Policy For further information, an individual should contact Human Resources and Organisational Development or their line manager in the first instance. The policies are also available on the Human Resources and Organisational Development website. Page 10 of 12

12 Flowchart for Longer Term Sickness Absence APPENDIX ONE Individual on long term sickness absence Referrals to Occupational Health as appropriate Occupational Health advice received Individual fit to resume role on full duties Individual fit to return to role with temporary changes Individual should be considered for redeployment as unable to fulfil current role now or in future Individual should be considered for ill-health retirement Return to work meeting Return to work meeting where temporary changes put in place Redeployment activity takes place Yes Is ill-health retirement appropriate? No Individual resumes full duties Individual undertakes role with temporary changes Has the individual been redeployed successfully? Yes No Application made to pension scheme Termination of contract due to medical capability Has the individual made progress against the action plan to resume full duties? Individual undertakes new role Is application successful? No Yes No Yes Individual returns to full duties Individual returns to Occupational Health for further referral Ill health retirement granted Appeal to University or Pension Fund Is it appropriate to extend the temporary arrangements? No Yes Page 11 of 12 Temporary arrangements extended

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