Managing Employees Health in the Workplace Policy (Sickness Absence Management) Version 4.1

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1 Managing Employees Health in the Workplace Policy (Sickness Absence Management) Version 4.1 Previously known as Attendance Management Policy Lead executive Name / title of author: Janet Wilkinson, Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development Charlotte Vaughan, HR Manager Date reviewed: November 2014 Date ratified: December 2014 Ratifying Committee: Workforce & Education Committee Target audience: Policy Summary: Equality Impact Statement: Training impact and plan summary: All staff employed by UHSM Employees must take action to ensure they are healthy and able to function in their normal capacity as much as possible. UHSM aims for employees to achieve full attendance; however it is recognised that employees will be absent due to illness occasionally. Where the attendance record of an employee reaches three occasions and/or 14 calendar days of sickness absence in the previous 12 months, or an employee is absent long term, the manager must review and put in place appropriate actions. UHSM will endeavour to provide all possible help and support to assist an early recovery and return to work and will comply with the Equality Act University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust ( UHSM ) strives to ensure equality of opportunity for all service users, local people and the workforce. As an employer and a provider of health care, UHSM aims to ensure that none are placed at a disadvantage as a result of its policies and procedures. This document has therefore had an initial assessment, in accordance with the equality impact proforma incorporated in the Checklist for Review and Ratification of UHSM-wide Documents, to ensure fairness and consistency for all those covered by it regardless of their individuality. This initial impact assessment indicated that there is a potential discriminatory impact and managers must seek advice from the HR team when applying this policy. E-learning and face to face training package accessible for employees involved in the application of this policy One to one support from Core HR Team in particular cases Guidance Notes Outline plan for dissemination: To be published on Trust intranet, Core HR Team; Line Managers; Team Brief; Newsletter Dissemination lead: name / title / ext n o Charlotte Vaughan, HR Manager, 5798 This version n o 4.1 Date published: Page 1

2 Version Control Schedule Version number Issue Date Revisions from previous issue Date of ratification by Committee V1 Aug 2005 June 2005 V2 Feb 2007 Full review Feb 2007 V3 Nov 2009 Full policy and form review and change of name from Sickness Absence Policy & Procedure to Attendance Management Policy Nov 2009 V3.1 Dec 2010 Review of monitoring section in line with new Policy template and to meet NHSLA requirements Dec 2010 V4 Dec 2015 Full review change of name to Managing Employees Health in the Workplace (Sickness Absence Management) Dec 2014 V4.1 Jul 2015 Addition of procedures to support staff with Alcohol and Substance Misuse Problems 19 Aug 2015 Summary of consultation process Control arrangements Associated documents References Document Control This policy has been developed in partnership with nominated Staff Side representatives and consulted on by managers and the HR team. It has been placed on the UHSM draft policies intranet site for comments for 3 weeks. Submitted to Workforce & Education Committee (8 th December 2014) for approval 3 years (or earlier if change in legislation) Guidance Notes, forms, letters (HR intranet site) NHS Employers: Page 2

3 Process for monitoring Responsible individual / group/ committee Frequency of monitoring Role responsible for preparation / approval of report and action plan Committee responsible for review of results / approval of action plan Individual / group / committee that is responsible for monitoring of action plan Document Compliance Monitoring Arrangements Monitored on an ongoing basis by HR representatives involved in the management of sickness absence cases. Review of grounds for appeal in relation to sickness absence management. Overall sickness % figures monitored with associated action plans at Trust Board, Divisional and Directorate level. Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development Ongoing Member of Core HR Team JCNC JCNC Contents Section Page 1 Introduction and purpose 4 2 Policy statement 4 3 Scope and exclusions 4 4 Definitions 4 5 Processes for the management of employees sickness Notification of sickness Call back and ongoing communication Return to work discussion Process for managing long term sickness absence Return to work plan Temporary adjustments including temporary redeployment Redeployment Health Review Capability Hearing Ill Health Retirement Benefit Process to manage frequent sickness absences Appeals Management of sickness absence General points 11 6 Duties and responsibilities of key relevant groups and individuals 12 Appendices 1 Supporting Staff with Alcohol and Substance Misuse Problems 14 Page 3

4 1. Introduction and purpose 1.1. University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) is committed to providing a working environment and employee support facilities which promote employee health and well being. Regular attendance at work is vital for UHSM to achieve its objectives. High levels of sickness absence have an adverse effect on the level and quality of service provided, place an additional burden on other employees and have considerable cost implications This policy has been developed to advise employees and managers of their responsibilities and necessary actions in relation to sickness absence. Where absence levels are causing concern or an employee requires support, this policy outlines how this will be managed fairly and consistently Following application of this policy, the expected outcome is that where sickness absence occurs it is for the shortest period possible because any barriers to returning are explored and resolved, and employees feel supported and engaged in the workplace. 2. Policy Statement 2.1. UHSM expects its employees take responsibility for their own wellbeing and take steps to ensure they are healthy and able to function in their normal capacity as much as possible. UHSM aims for its employees to achieve full attendance however it is recognised that employees will be absent due to illness from time to time UHSM will endeavour to provide all possible help and support to assist an early recovery and return to work for employees absent due to illness. UHSM will comply with the Equality Act 2010 and ensure any needs are considered and whether reasonable adjustments can be applied in the workplace to ensure that no employee is treated less favourably for a reason related to a disability as defined by the Act. 3. Scope and exclusions This policy applies to all employees of UHSM. 4. Definitions 4.1. Long term sickness absence When an employee has been absent for or is expected to be absent for more than 28 days Redeployment The process to seek a suitable alternative role when an employee is unfit to fulfil their role but is capable of performing another role. This can be done on a temporary basis. When an employee is transferred to a new role, this is termed redeployed. Page 4

5 4.3. Extended induction period This refers to the first six months of employment following commencement at UHSM during which the new employee must show competence in their role Fit Note (Statement of Fitness to Work) These are issued by an employee s GP and are required after seven days of sickness absence (from the eighth day of absence) and to provide the GP s opinion on an employee s fitness to work and eligibility for SSP Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Payable from the fourth day of sickness absence for up to 28 weeks Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) Discretionary payments made by UHSM to supplement Statutory Sick Pay. The allowances of this can be found in the NHS terms and conditions of service handbook Ill health retirement benefit - The NHS Pension Scheme provides two levels of ill-health retirement benefits, dependent on the severity of the condition and the likelihood of the employee being able to work again. Decisions regarding ill health retirement benefit are made by NHS Pensions and are outside of the control of UHSM Formal sanction The issuing of a Stage 1: Written Warning; Stage 2: Final Written Warning and Stage 3: Dismissal are formal sanctions under this policy. Stage 1 and Stage 2 warnings remain in force for 12 months Employee Health & Wellbeing Service (EHW) - The Employee Health & Wellbeing Service, previously called Occupational Health, provides specialist advice to managers and employees with respect to the management of work related health issues. EHW will assess an employee s fitness in relation to their ability to perform in their role and where appropriate provide advice on possible adjustments and rehabilitation programmes to support a work-focussed approach to the management of the case Part day s sickness absence When an employee attends work and subsequently leaves due to sickness. For Payroll purposes, if an employee attends work for less than half a shift, the full day will be recorded as sickness. If the employee works for more than half a shift, they will be recorded as being in work. These occasions are included for monitoring purposes. 5. Processes for the management of employees sickness 5.1. Notification of sickness In cases of sickness absence, employees must follow the notification process as outlined during their local induction and in the relevant guidance notes Employees must notify their absence as soon as possible to assist their managers to make alternative arrangements to ensure service continuity. Therefore failure to follow the necessary notification process may result in the employee being marked as absent Page 5

6 without authorisation, pay may be withheld and the matter subject to disciplinary investigation Call back and ongoing communication If the manager has not spoken to the employee on notification, the manager will contact the employee at the earliest opportunity and most appropriate time, taking into consideration the reason for absence. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, employees must make themselves available to have the conversation with their manager Dependent on the expected duration and reason for the absence, the manager and employee will have regular dialogue (usually expected to be at least once a week). These arrangements should be agreed from the first contact and reviewed as appropriate. This is to maintain clear communication to ensure the employee is appropriately supported and all avenues for a timely return to work are explored Return to work discussion After every occasion of sickness (including part day s absence), once the employee returns to work, the manager will arrange a timely discussion with the employee to ensure the employee is welcomed back into the workplace, is fit to return and any adjustments are considered, if they have not already been agreed, when necessary. The discussion should be captured on the Return to Work Discussion form Process for managing long term sickness absence An initial health review meeting should take place as soon as is appropriate, dependent on the circumstances, but around 28 days at the latest The aim of the health review meeting is to explore the reasons for absence, any barriers to return to work, any other factors, review any EHW advice and see whether there are any opportunities for the employee to return to work. Consideration of point must be made Further health review meetings should take place at regular intervals dependent on the reason for absence and any treatment being undertaken If there is no foreseeable return to work to the employee s substantive role, the manager will discuss this with the employee at their next health review meeting. If the employee is capable of other duties, redeployment will be considered (see section on redeployment). If the employee is not capable of other work, a Health Review Capability Hearing will be convened (see section Health Review Capability Hearing). Page 6

7 5.5. Return to work plan Dependent on the duration and reason for absence, with advice from HR and EHW, a return to work plan may be appropriate to rehabilitate the employee back into the workplace. This can include working reduced hours and/or amended duties. Refer to the section on temporary adjustments for further information It is anticipated that a return to work plan will be made only in situations where it is expected that the employee will be able to return to the full duties in their substantive role within a reasonable timeframe that a return to work plan will take place If the proposed return to work plan involves working reduced hours, managers can offer paid leave to support the employee s return to work. This will be up to a maximum of a week s contracted hours for the employee and can be used over the agreed return to work plan period Additionally in order to facilitate full pay where additional hours are required, managers and employees may arrange to use annual leave or allow the employee to accrue some hours to work back in the future (if appropriate). Alternatively the employee can take unpaid leave. For example, a full time employee, granted the maximum paid leave, returning to work on a phased basis over 4 weeks, working 15 hours the first week, 22.5 hours the second week, 30 hours the third week and hours the fourth week will use 37.5 hours (5 days) of paid leave to cover the first two weeks and then opts to use annual leave of hours (1.5 days) of annual leave Temporary adjustments including temporary redeployment Usually on the basis of EHW advice, temporary adjustments may be advised for an employee on their return from sickness absence or when the employee remains in work but is struggling to fulfil their full role due to a health condition The use of workplace risk assessments, with the possible involvement of EHW, should be considered, dependent on the reasons for an employee s absence or an employee struggling to fulfil their full role due to a health condition, to inform decisions about adjustments required The manager will decide, with the advice of HR, whether these adjustments are possible in the substantive post or whether another area (usually within the same directorate) can facilitate the suggestions. If a move to another area occurs, this will be a temporary redeployment If adjustments cannot be met in their own area or another area, the employee may need to remain off work until there is a change in their health condition or in the advice from EHW. Page 7

8 An employee can apply for an Access to Work grant for practical support if they have a disability, health or mental health condition to help them stay in work (https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview) Regular meetings should take place to review the temporary arrangements and details of progress will be recorded The length of time that adjustments to duties will be facilitated will depend on the advice available but will not usually extend beyond three months. Where an employee is working reduced hours, it is not expected this will last longer than four weeks (six weeks in exceptional circumstances). At these time points, consideration needs to be given to whether these adjustments are required on a permanent basis and the resulting impact If EHW advise that these arrangements are required for the foreseeable future, then a decision will need to be made by the manager whether the temporary adjustments can be accommodated on an ongoing basis and be able to justify this decision. If they can, this will be confirmed with the employee. If it is not possible to accommodate the adjustments on a permanent basis, redeployment will be pursued (see section on redeployment) Redeployment UHSM aims to maintain employees in employment if possible. In some occasions, it will become apparent that an employee cannot return to their substantive post or cannot fulfil the full duties of their substantive post following consideration of any adjustments required and what can be accommodated. In these situations, the employee may be considered fit to undertake alternative duties and therefore redeployment may be advised as The employee will be advised if redeployment is suggested and their views will be considered. If the employee wishes to consider redeployment, the employee will complete a Redeployment Register sheet. The employee will be placed on UHSM s redeployment register for 3 months. If the employee does not wish to consider redeployment to an alternative position, a hearing will be arranged to consider the ongoing employment of the employee (see Health Review Capability Hearing below) Whilst on the redeployment register, any appropriate positions which become available will be brought to the attention of the employee. Apart from in exceptional circumstances, employees must advise if they are interested in the post within 2 working days as the post will be held from progressing through recruitment The managers of any posts identified will be required, with advice from HR and EHW, to consider whether the redeployee s skills and abilities match sufficiently in order to progress to a six week trial. Any trial will be paid by the employee s substantive ward/department unless there is an increase in the number of hours where the difference will be paid by the recruiting area. Page 8

9 The recruiting manager is required to conduct an appropriate induction and provide a training plan to ensure the redeployee is given every opportunity to succeed in the post. This plan will be revisited at regular intervals There will be a meeting approximately half way through the trial with the redeployee, the existing line manager and the recruiting manager to consider progress and a meeting with the same attendees at the end of the trial to consider whether the redeployee can be confirmed in the post. An HR representative and union representative or work colleague may also attend The trial can be stopped by either party. If the recruiting manager wishes to stop the trial, they must be able to identify the specific reasons why the trial cannot proceed e.g. patient safety issues, unsustainable level of training input with no or little prospect of improvement etc. supported by documentation If the trial is successful, the redeployee will transfer to the post the day after the trial is completed and the terms and conditions of the new post will apply. If the trial is unsuccessful, the employee will return to the redeployment register provided the redeployment period has not ended. If the redeployment period has ended, a hearing will be arranged [see section: Health Review Capability hearing] Ill health retirement benefit An employee can choose to apply for ill health retirement benefit; this may or may not be in consultation with EHW. The decision to grant ill health retirement benefit is made by NHS Pensions and is outside UHSM s influence or control. Any employee considering making an application is advised to seek further advice An ill health retirement benefit application form must be requested by the line manager from the Pensions Officer in the Payroll department and completed as required. The Pensions Officer, manager and EHW will assist in completing the documentation as appropriate. This application form is then submitted to NHS Pensions Health Review Capability Hearing This will be convened if an employee either cannot return to their substantive post due to ill health or cannot fulfil the full duties of their substantive post and they are either unable to consider redeployment or have been through the redeployment process but no suitable posts have been found At this hearing, an independent hearing officer will consider the facts relating to the employee s health circumstances and attendance record including EHW advice and management actions. If all avenues have been pursued without resolving the situation, the employee s contract of employment will be terminated on the grounds of incapability to perform the duties of their post due to ill health. Page 9

10 5.10. Process to manage frequent sickness absences Managers must undertake an in-depth review of an employee s attendance record if they have been absent on three occasions and/or 14 calendar days in the previous 12 months and decide whether to progress through the stage review process identified below. On each subsequent absence the employee s attendance record for the previous 12 months will be reviewed and action taken as appropriate. Periods of long term sickness absence are included When undertaking review, point must be considered The stages in the review process are: Informal Discussion Stage 1 Absence Management hearing Stage 2 Absence Management hearing Stage 3 Absence Management hearing The purpose of the informal discussion between the manager (or nominated deputy) and employee is to explore the reasons for absence fully and identify any steps which can be taken by the employee or on behalf of UHSM by the manager or others to improve their attendance If attendance does not improve and the manager s review deems it appropriate, a Stage 1 Absence Management Hearing will take place. At the hearing, the reasons for absence will again be explored fully and discussions will take place regarding the steps which can be taken, both by the employee and UHSM, to improve attendance. The manager can choose to issue or not issue a Stage 1: Written Warning following consideration of the information If the employee has been issued with a Stage 1, further occasions of absence will be reviewed by the manager who will determine whether a Stage 2 Absence Management Hearing is required at which the same matters will be discussed. The manager can choose to issue or not issue a Stage 2: Final Written Warning following consideration of the information. If this is issued, the employee will be advised that further occasions may result in a Stage 3 Absence Management Hearing, at which their employment could be terminated If the employee has been issued with a Stage 2, further occasions of absence will be reviewed by the manager who will determine whether a Stage 3 Absence Management Hearing is required at which the same matters will be discussed. This will be heard by an independent hearing officer who will decide following consideration of the information if there are any alternatives to dismissal which could be pursued. If there are no alternatives which can be pursued, the employee s contract of employment may be terminated. Page 10

11 In certain circumstances, where a Stage warning has expired and an employee has a further occasion of absence, the extent and pattern of previous absences and warnings will be taken into account to determine the relevant stage to invoke. When this occurs, managers should take HR advice and will be required to document the reasons for their decision clearly Appeals Following any formal sanction being issued, the employee can appeal against the decision The appeal must be in writing to the manager who issued the sanction for all warnings up to and including Stage 2, and be copied to the relevant HR representative. When appealing against termination, the appeal must be in writing to the Director of HR and Organisational Development Appeals must be made within ten calendar days following receipt of the outcome letter. All appeal letters must state clearly the grounds for appeal. An appeal hearing will not be arranged until the grounds have been received Management of sickness absence General points It is recognised that each absence and each employee is unique and therefore every case will be appraised on its own merits. Consideration will be given to the reasons for absence and health related restrictions, e.g. chronic conditions, disability and associated illnesses or work-related ill health condition, at all points of progression through long term or frequent sickness absence management Employees are entitled to be accompanied, if they wish, at any formal meeting or hearing by either a trade union representative or work colleague. It is the responsibility of the employee to make these arrangements. Employees must inform their manager if they will be accompanied at the meeting. If their chosen representative is not available at the proposed time, the employee may request a reasonable alternative time within five working days and the meeting will be postponed. It is expected that meetings/hearings are only postponed due to non-availability of representatives on one occasion. The employee will be made aware that a decision may be made in their absence if arrangements cannot be made Working at alternative employment (temporary, permanent or self-employment) during the period when an employee is reporting to be sick, without written approval from their line manager, having taken HR advice, is considered a disciplinary offence and a fraudulent act. This includes days denoted as non-working days. Action will be taken under the Disciplinary Policy and in conjunction with the Local Counter Fraud Service in these circumstances Where appropriate, an employee may request to take annual leave during their sickness absence. An employee s entitlement to statutory annual leave, accrued while absent, may be taken upon their return to work. Page 11

12 During a period of absence, if an employee will be unable to communicate with their manager and/or be unable to attend meetings during normal working time (e.g., taking a planned holiday, arranging a holiday or emergency requirement to travel for family reasons) the employee must discuss this with their manager as they would be required to if they were in work If it is necessary to undertake attendance management hearings/reviews for employees during the extended induction period, in the absence of mitigating circumstances, it is likely that these will proceed to a hearing to consider dismissal Advice from EHW will be pursued and discussed with an employee. Where the advice appears to conflict with the Fit Note issued by the employee s GP, the advice from EHW will take precedence Where employees wish to seek an independent medical opinion, they are responsible for making the necessary arrangements and for any costs involved. Managers will consider an independent medical report alongside any other information provided such as EHW advice The manager based on review of the situation and with HR advice, can withhold Statutory Sick Pay and/or Occupational Sick Pay if an employee fails to engage in the management process. This can include failing to provide Fit Notes in a timely manner, failing to maintain reasonable contact, failing to engage with EHW and refusing to consider a return to work advised by EHW. Consideration of disciplinary action may also be taken When a manager has deemed it appropriate for an employee to be referred to EHW, it is expected that the manager explains this to the employee. If an employee refuses to engage with EHW, decisions will need to be made based on the information available and if the employee is absent, Occupational Sick Pay may be withheld All employees are actively encouraged to speak to their manager about any issues which may impact on their mental health and wellbeing including potential alcohol or substance misuse problem. In these circumstances, managers will work with the employee and decide on an appropriate course of action, taking advice from EHW and HR as required. 6. Duties related to the implementation of this policy 6.1. UHSM managers and employees are mutually responsible for complying with health and safety requirements, reporting of injuries and dangerous occurrences (RIDDOR), disability discrimination and other relevant legislation The Director of HR and OD is responsible for the overall implementation of this Policy. Page 12

13 6.3. Managers Managers are expected to communicate appropriately with absent staff and manage absences in line with this policy and associated guidance Managers are expected to ensure awareness of this policy through local induction for new employees and other communication channels for current employees Managers are responsible for ensuring that the recording of their employees absence is correct Employees Employees are expected to ensure regular attendance at work; communicate appropriately with their manager when absent from work; and co-operate fully in the use of this policy and associated guidance Human Resources The Human Resources directorate, including the Employee Health & Wellbeing Service (EHW), will provide support and advice where appropriate to managers and employees on this subject and the application of this policy but the decisions to be taken rest with managers Human Resources are responsible for ensuring this policy is reviewed and amended as necessary in line with legislative changes, best practice and NHS guidelines Human Resources will work in partnership with Trade Union representatives, and regularly monitor and review arrangements to identify where and how processes can be improved. Page 13

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