NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST POLICIES AND PROCEDURES MANAGEMENT OF ATTENDANCE AND SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY. Documentation Control

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1 NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST POLICIES AND PROCEDURES MANAGEMENT OF ATTENDANCE AND SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY Documentation Control Reference HR/P&C/003 Date approved 4 Approving Body Trust Board Implementation date 1 December 2008 Supersedes NUH Management of Attendance and Sickness Absence Policy Version 1, June 2006 Consultation undertaken Managers, Trade Unions, Staff Association Representatives, Directors Group Target audience All managers, and employees, Trade Union and Staff Association Representatives Supporting Procedure(s) Sickness Absence Reporting Procedure Short Term Absence Procedure Long Term Absence Procedure Redeployment due to Ill Health Procedure Equal Opportunities Policy Single Equality Scheme Secondary Employment Policy New and Expectant Mothers at Work Procedure Alcohol and Drugs Policy Management of Psychological Well-Being at Work Policy Information Security and Data Protection Policy Capability Policy and Procedure Disciplinary Policy and Procedure Review Date December 2011 Lead Executive Director of Human Resources Author/Lead Manager Darren Gillott ext Further Guidance/Information Darren Gillott ext

2 CONTENTS 1. Policy Statement (Including Equality and Diversity) 3 2. Trust Objectives 4 3. Trust Commitments 4 4. Scope 5 5. Definitions 5 6. Responsibilities 5 7. Disability Managing Special Circumstances Confidentiality Table of Delegation of Authority 15 Apdx Employee Record of Having Read the Policy 16 2

3 1. POLICY STATEMENT 1.1 The Trust recognises that employees are our most valuable asset and by offering attractive and fair conditions of employment, flexible working opportunities, a healthy environment and, above all encouragement to all employees to own their organisation, we hope they will play active roles in its future. 1.2 It is the Trust s intention to recruit, retain, select and promote employees who it can depend upon to attend work. 1.3 No two cases of absence are identical. Employees should always be treated with sympathy, understanding and compassion. 1.4 The control of absence is the responsibility of the line manger. If line managers are in doubt about how to deal with a case of absence advice should be sought from Human Resources. 1.5 When dealing with cases of sickness absence which involve employee s physical or mental capability to undertake their duties, it is advisable to involve Occupational Health and Human Resources at the earliest possible stage. 1.6 The Trust treats all absences due to sickness as genuine unless there is information to the contrary. In these cases an investigation will be carried out and action under the disciplinary procedure will be considered. 1.7 Managers will not discriminate in the application of this procedure in respect of age, disability, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, gender, religion, beliefs, sexual orientation, domestic circumstances, social and employment status, gender reassignment, political affiliation or trade union membership. 1.8 Employees will be entitled to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or work colleague (not acting in a legal capacity) at all formal meetings held under this policy. 3

4 2. TRUST OBJECTIVES 2.1 The Trust aims to ensure that employees maintain good health and that absence due to sickness is minimised. 2.2 The Trust aims to minimise sickness absence to help maintain its quality of service in order to lessen the impact that an employee s absence has on: work and workloads colleagues the delivery of services departmental budgets patient care 2.3 Each case of sickness absence must be judged on an individual basis together with the advice provided by Human Resources and Occupational Health which will be applied with fairness and discretion. 3. TRUST COMMITMENTS 3.1 The Trust recognises that in promoting attendance at work through the effective management of sickness absence that it is important for managers to be involved in the process and to receive appropriate training. 3.2 All short term and long term sickness absence will be monitored and managers will be accountable for effectively managing the impact of sickness absence on their teams, colleagues and service provision. 3.3 All absence is managed effectively whilst being sensitive to the individual needs of the affected employee. 3.4 Objective criteria are developed for supporting the attendance of each employee. 3.5 Human Resources will provide impartial, high quality advice and guidance to managers to support the effective management of sickness absence. 3.6 Absence due to sickness will be reported accurately and management reports provided to the appropriate managers. 4

5 3.7 Relevant employment legislation and Codes of Practice are adhered to. 4. SCOPE 4.1 This policy and associate procedures apply to all Trust employees. 5. DEFINITIONS 5.1 An occasion of sickness is defined as when an employee is absent from work through sickness for the whole of the shift they were due to work, or if they work less than half their shift before leaving due to sickness. 5.2 Short term sickness is defined as one or more occasions of sickness absence with each episode lasting less than 4 weeks, attributable to one or more conditions. 5.3 Long term sickness is defined as a continuous absence from work for 4 weeks or more, usually attributable to a single underlying condition. 5.4 Left work early is defined as when a person works more than half their shift before leaving due to sickness. 6. RESPONSIBILITIES 6.1 Employees Responsibilities To attend work and perform the duties of the post unless there is an authorised reason for absence, e.g. carers leave, annual leave To attend work on time To make positive lifestyle choices conversant with the points above To advise the line manager or nominated deputy within his or her workplace of any ill health absence and its likely duration, on or before the first day of absence and in line with the appropriate arrangements for the service (see the Sickness Absence Reporting Procedure). 5

6 6.1.5 To keep in touch with the manager on a regular basis as agreed on the first day of absence. Failure to maintain contact may result in disciplinary action. It is acknowledged that on rare occasions it may not be appropriate for the manager to be contacted and alternative arrangements may be agreed. (In all cases the manager will take into account the reason for the absence and state of health of the employee when agreeing the contact arrangements) To provide medical certificates in a timely manner for absences which last for more than 7 calendar days To attend appointments made with Occupational Health in accordance with the terms of their contract. Occupational Health will alert the employee and manager of any failure to attend an appointment Repeated failure to attend Occupational Health appointments without notifying the department, or without a substantiated reason, will be considered under the Trust s disciplinary procedure. If an employee requests not to attend, then the manager may need to make decisions and take action based on the information available. 6.2 Line Manager s Responsibilities Line managers will be responsible, in close liaison with Human Resources, for operating this policy. It is the Trust s intention to link managers performance to their management of sickness absence by making it part of their core objectives Managers are expected to be supportive when an employee is ill, to arrange for cover or delegation of tasks as appropriate during the employee s absence, so that a heavy workload is limited on their return to work Managers must ensure that every employee is aware of the sickness reporting arrangements for their service or work area by: 1. Ensuring a written procedure for their service is drawn up and issued to all new employees on their first working day as part of their induction. 2. Identifying the person employees must contact, on or before the first day of sickness. 6

7 3. Ensuring employees are aware of the person to whom medical certificates should be sent. 4. Ensuring employees are aware of the contact arrangements when they are absent through sickness. When making arrangements the manager will consider the nature of the incapacity, but at the very minimum the manager must be informed as soon as new certificates are obtained giving details of the expected length of absence and the reason for their incapacity Managers are expected to maintain contact with an employee when they are off sick longer term. The frequency and mode of contact should be agreed between manager and employee at the outset, recognising that individual needs differ Managers or nominated deputies will undertake a return to work interview with employees upon their return from sickness to ensure they are fit to return and identify whether there are any work related issues which can be addressed Managers should ensure that all members of their team are aware of the confidential counselling service available to an employee Where appropriate managers should complete a stress risk assessment in line with the Psychological Wellbeing Policy Managers are required to keep accurate records of all employees sickness, regardless of length of absence Managers are responsible for informing employees when they are approaching half pay/nil pay situations. Reports giving this information will be generated by Pay Services and will inform the manager of the details accordingly Managers will refer employees to Occupational Health where appropriate (see the Sickness Absence Reporting Procedure). Managers will ensure that any written referral to Occupational Health has been discussed with the employee to ensure they understand the reason for their referral prior to their appointment. Copies of the employee s job description should accompany the referral document Managers will monitor the sick leave records of employees and identify 7

8 any patterns of sickness, either long term or frequent short term absence which would indicate a potential concern with the employee s health or their safety in the workplace Where an employee hits the triggers stipulated in the Short Term Absence Procedure, managers will take action as outlined in that procedure Where an employee hits the trigger stipulated in the Long Term Absence Procedure, managers will take action as outlined in that procedure In cases of long term sickness absence, managers will ensure that pay slips are forwarded to the employee and they may include newsletters and any briefing documents appropriate to the employee Managers will continually evaluate the period of time a post can remain uncovered. Any advice given by Occupational Health regarding likely length of absence will be taken into account in this assessment Where a major injury is sustained by an employee due to a workplace incident, or where a minor injury has been sustained which has resulted in the employee being unable to undertake their duties for more than 3 calendar days the Line Manager will be responsible for notifying Health & Safety in an appropriate and timely manner (see Sickness Absence Reporting Procedure). 6.3 Role of Human Resources Human Resources is available to provide managers with advice, support and when required, specialist expertise. They will maintain a link with Occupational Health to ensure consistent management of long term sickness Prior to formal action being taken under the short or long term absence procedures, advice and assistance must be sought from Human Resources When making a referral to Occupational Health concerning sickness absence, the manager may wish to liaise with Human Resources to ensure that appropriate information is requested prior to completing the Occupational Health Referral Form. 8

9 6.3.4 Reports will be sent monthly by Human Resources to each Directorate providing an overview of sickness absence per department, to include frequency and length of absence, in order to assist in the monitoring process. These reports should be cascaded down through the organisation to operational line managers, taking into account issues of confidentiality and as part of the performance management process Human Resources will be responsible for monitoring positive management action in areas where there is high sickness absence. 6.4 Role of Occupational Health Occupational Health is a confidential advisory service and has a dual role to provide advice and support to both managers and employees about health in the workplace Occupational Health will request permission from the employee to approach the employee s GP and/or other health professional if they require further information On receipt of the referral, Occupational Health will advise the employee and line manager of the date and time of the appointment. Any subsequent follow-up appointment(s) will be made directly between Occupational Health and the employee, with Occupational Health advising the line manager as appropriate Managers may consider providing a taxi for employees who have transport difficulties. Alternatively, written consent may be sought from the employee by the Occupational Health practitioner to communicate with their GP or Consultant before any further action is decided Immediately following the assessment, Occupational Health will advise the employee in outline what they will write in the report to the line manager. Copies of the report may be sent to the line manager, Human Resources and the employee If an employee fails to attend an Occupational Health appointment the employee s line manager will be advised. Employees may be required to attend Occupational Health as a reasonable management instruction During periods of ill health and rehabilitation, Occupational Health will 9

10 maintain contact with the employee to monitor their progress and provide support and offer help. If appropriate Occupational Health will try to 'fast track' appointments to outpatients appointments and specialists. 6.5 Role of Health & Safety Health & Safety will provide specialist advice to managers and employees on promoting health, providing a safe and healthy working environment and supporting those with health problems in taking up employment, in continuing to work or in returning to work as quickly as possible. This will include indicating any reasonable adjustments that may be made and assessing the suitability of alternative roles Health & Safety will provide advice and guidance to line manager in matters of health & safety issues Health & Safety will monitor the number of sickness absences due to injuries caused by an incident or accident in the workplace. Where appropriate Health & Safety will provide advice and guidance on reducing the associated risks Health & Safety will be responsible for ensuring all major injuries caused by an accident or incident at work and minor injuries resulting in more than 3 calendar day s incapacitation from normal duties will be reported to the Health & Safety Executive. 6.6 Role of Trade Union and Staff Side Representatives The Trade Union representatives within the Trust will advise individual members of their respective unions and professional organisations, where the employee wishes, when those members are required to formal attend meetings under the short term sickness procedure or long term sickness procedure. 10

11 7. DISABILITY 7.1 Definition of a Disability The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) is a statutory framework which provides legal protection for disabled people against discrimination. The DDA has defined a disabled person as: someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities This can be broken down by: o Substantial - neither minor nor trivial o Long term - the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months o Normal day to day activities includes everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping which affects one of the capacities listed in the DDA which includes mobility, manual dexterity, speech, hearing, seeing and memory Employees with conditions such as hay fever are specifically excluded. Employees with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis are deemed to be covered by the DDA effectively from the point of diagnosis, rather than from the point when the condition has some adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The definition of disability is a complex legal one. For the purposes of the DDA, a disabled person may not appear disabled or even realise that he/she has a disability. Therefore it is vital that managers consult Human Resources early on where an employee appears to be affected by a condition which might fall into the definition above or could potentially fall into the definition above. 7.2 Disability and Sickness Absence The short and long term absence management procedures will still apply to employees with a disability. However where an employee is absent due to their disability, reasonable adjustments should be made in terms of the trigger points in the processes and the general application of the processes. These should be considered on an 11

12 individual basis, with advice from Occupational Health and Human Resources. 7.3 Occupational Health Occupational Health is able to provide medical advice on the question of whether a condition is likely to be an impairment covered by the DDA and can also assist in the selection of appropriate adjustments dependent on the unique medical needs of the disabled employee. It should be borne in mind that the definition of a disability for the purposes of the DDA is a broad legal one and not a medical one. Therefore it is best practise for managers to consult Human Resources where they are managing cases of long term ill health. 7.4 Access to Work Access to Work aims to assist disabled people who are in paid employment or with a job to start by providing practical support and helping to meet additional costs associated with overcoming work related obstacles resulting from disability Access to Work can help the employee in a number of ways. For example, it can help pay for: o o o o o o Adaptations to premises and equipment: modification of an employer s or self-employed person s premises or equipment. Communication support at interview: help with the costs of employing an interpreter or communicator to accompany a person with a hearing impairment, where there may be communication difficulties, e.g. job interviews. Miscellaneous: one off items of support that do not fit elsewhere, such as grants towards the costs of deaf awareness training for close colleagues of a deaf person. Special aids and equipment: provision of aids and equipment which a non-disabled person doing the same job would not need. Support workers: helps with the cost of employing personal support for a job interview, travelling to and from work or other help. Travel to work: support when an employee incurs extra cost in travelling to and from work because of their disability. 12

13 7.4.3 The employee is normally required to contact Access to Work (due to confidentiality issues this cannot be done by the employer, even if the employee request the employer makes contact on their behalf). At this point an Access to Work Advisor will normally phone or visit the employee at their place of work Sometimes where specialist or technical advice is needed, Access to Work will arrange for a specialist provider to complete an assessment and recommend appropriate support. A written and confidential report will be sent to Access to Work, who will use the information to help them to decide on the level of support that can be approved Access to Work will seek formal approval of the recommendations and once approved the Employment Service will write to the employee and employer informing them of the level of approved support and the grant available The Trust will be required to share the cost with Access to Work by paying the first 300 plus a further minimum 20% of the cost up to a ceiling of 10,000 (as of February 2008). The Employment Service will pay the remaining amount up to a maximum of 80%, and up to 100% of agreed costs over and above 10,000. Access to Work is responsible for agreeing the level of cost sharing with the employer. 7.5 Implementation of Reasonable Adjustments The line manager is responsible for implementing recommendations made by Occupational Health and/or Access to Work under the DDA. If it is thought that a recommendation cannot be implemented it is essential that the line manager discusses this thoroughly with Human Resources and/or the Trust s legal department and Occupational Health. 13

14 8. MANAGING SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES 8.1 Stress The Trust is committed to reducing the risk to the health & safety of its employees from stress at work. It is recognised that stress is not a disease but a natural human reaction to excessive pressure Further guidance on stress management is contained in the Management of Psychological Well-Being at Work Policy. 8.3 Sickness Absence due to an Injury at Work Any absence caused directly by an injury at work or disease sustained by an employee in the actual discharge of their duties through no fault of their own will be discounted for the purpose of the short term absence procedure. Absence related to but not caused directly by an injury at work or disease sustained by an employee in the actual discharge of their duties through no fault of their own will not ordinarily be discounted for the purpose of the short term absence procedure It may be appropriate for the employee and line manager to have an informal meeting when the short term sickness absence trigger is met to ensure that all relevant support is provided to the employee. 8.4 Sickness Absence during Pregnancy If an employee is pregnant and becomes unwell so that they are unable to work, this policy should be read in conjunction with the New and Expectant Mothers at Work Policy. 9. CONFIDENTIALITY Documentation relating to an employees sickness absence will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and in accordance to the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Employees have the right to access any documentation held on them in accordance with the DPA. Those responsible for maintaining sickness records must ensure that absence records are held in a secure place and made available only to authorised employees. 14

15 10. Table of Delegation of Authority for Disciplinary Action WARNING DISCIPLINARY ACTION APPEAL Oral Warning Individual s Appointing Officer * (See 3.6 above). Appointing Officer s Manager Written Warning Individual s Appointing Officer. Appointing Officer s Manager Final Written Warning Individual s Appointing Officer. (NB Typically there will be support from the HR Department on the panel at a hearing where a warning at this level is a possible sanction. This support would be either a HR Officer, Assistant Directorate HR Manager or Directorate HR Manager) Appointing Officer s Manager Dismissal Member of the wider Directorate Team: typically Managers in Band 8A and above (NB There must be support from a member of the HR Department on the panel for a case where dismissal may be a possible sanction. This can be a HR Officer, Assistant Directorate HR Manager or Directorate HR Manager) The Appeal Panel will be a similarly constituted panel to the dismissal panel but will be from a different directorate/area of the Trust than the employee s. Neither the manager nor HR representative on the panel must have had any prior involvement in the case. 15

16 Appendix EMPLOYEE RECORD OF HAVING READ THE POLICY Title of Policy/Procedure: I have read and understand the principles contained in the named policy. PRINT FULL NAME SIGNATURE DATE 16

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