Managing Attendance Policy and Procedure

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1 Managing Attendance Policy and Procedure Committee responsible for review Resource Agreed date Spring 2015 Review date Spring

2 CONTENTS Page Introduction 3 Types of sickness absence 4 Informal management of attendance 5 Triggering the Formal Attendance Management procedure 6 Stage 1 Review - Short term absence.6 Stage 2 Review Short term absence 7 Stage 3 Review Short term absence 8 Stage 1 Review Long term absence.9 Stage 2 Review Long term absence 9 Stage 3 Review Long term absence.10 Other key issues in managing attendance 11 Time off for medical and dental appointments 14 Further guidance and advice Introduction 1.1 Policy Schools have a responsibility to manage attendance in a way which safeguards the interests of the pupils and other staff whilst at the same time showing understanding to the individual. The School aims to achieve this by providing a healthy and safe working environment and by keeping avoidable absence to an absolute minimum. The Royal Borough of Greenwich, as a good employer, does not wish its employees to attend for work when they are too sick, but does expect its employees to take personal responsibility for their attendance and to meet their contractual obligations to work. Frequent or extended absence, even though genuine, can significantly impair the quality of the service that the school provides and affects the continuity of pupil s education. 2

3 1.2 Aim 1.2 Scope The procedure sets out guidance to Headteachers, Managers and Governors in the understanding, monitoring and reducing of sickness absence and the investigations and actions that should be taken. The aim of this procedure is to provide a framework to effectively and consistently manage attendance, while ensuring that all staff are treated with respect, understanding, and compassion, according to their particular circumstances. Full regard is given to all the School s policies and the Royal Borough s duty of care and welfare to its employees. This procedure applies to all staff but does not apply: During a probationary period (in these circumstances Headteachers/Managers should refer to the probation procedure) During or at the end of a fixed term contract of less than 26 weeks duration To temporary employees with less than 26 weeks service To absences due to pregnancy up to the end of the approved maternity leave period To absences caused by an exclusion from work due to contact with an infectious disease To agency staff The requirements to report sickness absence and conduct return to work interviews, contained in this procedure, still apply. 1.3 Confidentiality Throughout the application of this procedure, Headteachers/Managers may become aware of medical or other personal information concerning individual employees. Headteachers/Managers must take care to ensure that confidentiality is maintained throughout and that information is only disclosed to those persons who are authorised to receive it. 1.4 Disabled employees It is essential that Headteachers/Managers ensure that disabled employees are not unlawfully discriminated against for a reason which relates to their disability. Headteachers/Managers must take account of this when dealing with any absence due to an employee s disability. This includes consideration of reasonable adjustments at all stages of this procedure. (see guidance Dealing with disability related absence) 1.5 For Rights and responsibilities in managing attendance (see guidance notes) 2. Types of sickness absence 2.1 Broadly speaking patterns of sickness absence usually occur in one of two ways, namely: Persistent short-term absences characterised by: (a) frequent periods of intermittent absence caused by unconnected illnesses where there is no underlying condition or (b) chronic cases where an underlying medical condition is present which results in frequent short term absence. or Long term absence; characterised by a long period of continuous absence normally caused by an underlying medical condition. Absences for chronic/long-term sickness may be due to a disability and will require special consideration (see guidance Dealing with disability related absence) 3

4 2.2 Not all patterns of sickness absence fall neatly into one of these groups. The appropriate course of action will depend on the circumstances of the case and some flexibility of approach may be needed. 3. Informal management of attendance 3.1 Sickness reporting procedures Due to the unplanned nature of sickness absence it is important that Headteachers/Managers are able to plan workloads and continue to deliver an effective service. It is vital that absence is reported promptly so that appropriate arrangements can be made regarding an employee s duties. Employees must notify their Headteacher/Manager (normally by phone) as soon as possible on the first day of absence in line with local reporting requirements, indicating the nature of the illness and, where possible, the expected duration of their absence. Text messages or getting someone else to ring in to report their absence on their behalf is not normally appropriate. Headteacher/Managers must record all periods of sickness absence to ensure that absence reporting information and payroll records are accurate. (see guidance Rights and responsibilities on managing attendance) 3.2 Return-to-Work Reviews When an employee returns to work, irrespective of the duration of the absence, Headteacher/Managers must conduct a return to work review as soon as practicable. The purpose of the review is to create an opportunity for the Headteacher/Manager to cover the following: Welcome the employee back to work. Clarify the reason for the absence and discuss any problems and/or health concerns Give the employee the opportunity to raise any other concerns relevant to their return to work Clarify if there are any patterns to the sickness or any concerns you may have as to the reason for the absence. Find out if the illness is likely to recur and what this will mean in practice to the individual and service i.e. if further time-off will be necessary (e.g. for treatment). Establish whether the absence is related to a disability or impairment and discuss whether any reasonable adjustments are required. Assess whether an early referral to occupational health is relevant particularly in relation to mental health (stress, depression, anxiety) or musculoskeletal absences Advise the employee of their responsibility to maintain a satisfactory level of attendance. Advise the employee, if relevant, of any problems arising from the absence, the impact on the service, and potential consequences of unsatisfactory sickness absence levels. Ensure the employee has completed a self-certification form or where appropriate, provided medical certificates to cover the whole period of absence, including a final `fit to work certificate. Advise the employee that if the period of absence has triggered the formal sickness procedure they will be asked to attend a Stage 1 Sickness Review Hearing. 4. Triggering the Formal Attendance Management procedure 4.1 The Formal Sickness Absence procedure is triggered when: (a) the employee's pattern of sickness absence reaches 9 working days sickness absence (continuous or cumulative), or 3 periods of absence totaling 5 working days or more in a 12 month period. 4

5 OR (b) an employee s pattern of sickness absence gives rise to managerial concern (e.g. causing on-going service delivery issues). Alternatively, where there are trends of absences occurring (e.g. particular days of the week or linked to certain tasks/weather conditions) 4.2 Triggering the Formal Procedure occurs automatically, but the decision following the review will depend on the individual circumstances and merits of the case. Care should be taken to ensure that formal meetings are conducted in a supportive rather than adversarial manner especially where there is an underlying medical condition. 4.3 All formal meetings may be attended by trade union representative. A work colleague may attend as a representative if the employee wishes. Five working days notice of the meeting will be given. If the representative is not available on the given date of the hearing the employee is entitled to propose a reasonable alternative date, which may be up to five working days after the original date. After this period the Headteacher/Manager is entitled to hold the meeting irrespective of whether or not the employee attends. Outcomes from formal meetings should be confirmed in writing within ten working days. 5. Stage 1 Review Short term absence 5.1 As soon as the trigger is reached a Stage 1 review is the first formal step in addressing sickness absence. (see Standard Letter instruction to attend Stage 1 Formal Review meeting) The purpose of the meeting will be to: Review the sickness absence record and the impact the absence is having on the service and colleagues. At this stage consideration may also be given to historical patterns of absence in previous years (normally up to five years) Consider any relevant medical information that is available and obtain further medical information if deemed necessary by referral to Occupational Health. This is essential where there is underlying medical condition but early referral may also be useful in other cases, in particular stress related issues. (see Standard Letter Referral to Occupational Health) Discuss the reasons for absence and any relevant information the employee has to offer (e.g. personal, domestic, welfare issues, that the absence was connected to a disability). Take into account any disability related absence and consider, with the employee, whether reasonable adjustments are required, which may assist them in reducing their sickness absences (e.g. change in hours, working arrangements, alternative or temporary duties, redeployment bearing in mind the needs of the service). The implications of further periods of absence (see Guidance Conducting a Stage 1 Formal Review) 5.2 The outcome of the meeting will depend on the circumstances but will normally include the employee being advised that their attendance will be monitored for a defined period of time, with a view to reducing their level of absence to one that falls below the trigger points detailed in paragraph 4.1. (see guidance Setting a monitoring period &, Standard Letter Stage 1 Review outcome). There is no appeal to a Stage 1 outcome. 5.3 During the monitoring period the Headteacher/Manager should ensure regular contact with the employee to discuss their attendance /sickness and progress. Further actions may also include Agreeing any reasonable adjustments to working arrangements Further referral to Occupational Health Requiring fit notes for any further periods of absence, regardless of duration. (This must be agreed by the Headteacher) Considering other types of support that may be available and/or appropriate (eg undertaking stress risk assessments where appropriate) 5.4 If a satisfactory level of attendance has been achieved at the end of the monitoring period the employee will be advised in writing and reminded of the need to sustain their level of 5

6 improvement. If the level of improvement is subsequently not maintained, the absence procedure will move to Stage 2. However previous sickness records can be considered in any subsequent process as long as they do not exceed two years. 5.5 A record of the review will be placed on the employee's personnel file. This will be disregarded for the purposes of this procedure after a period not exceeding two years of satisfactory attendance. 6. Stage 2 Review Short term absence 6.1 Stage 2 is reached in the following circumstances, either: OR When the initial monitoring period has failed to achieve a satisfactory reduction in the level of absence such that it falls below the defined trigger points. The initial improvement achieved at the end of the monitoring period at Stage 1 has not been sustained. A further meeting will be arranged by the Headteacher/Manager to review the employee s sickness record and will also be attended by an HR Advisor. The outcome will depend on the circumstances of the case but will normally include setting a further monitoring period for improved attendance within a specified timescale. (see Standard Letter Stage 2 invite, Guidance on conducting a Stage 2 Formal review). 6.2 The employee will also be advised that their employment is at risk (EAR) and failure to reduce their level of sickness absence will result in them moving to Stage 3 of the procedure where a decision to dismiss may be made. This will be confirmed in writing. There is a right of appeal against a decision to issue an EAR. (See guidance Appeal against the decision to issue an EAR) 6.3 A record of the review will be placed on the employee's personnel file. This will be disregarded for the purposes of this procedure after a period not exceeding two years of satisfactory attendance. 6.4 During the monitoring period the Headteacher/Manager should ensure regular contact with the employee to discuss their attendance /sickness and progress. Further actions may also include Agreeing reasonable adjustments to working arrangements Further referral to Occupational Health Requiring sick notes for any further periods of absence, regardless of duration (This must be agreed by the Headteacher) Considering other types of support that may be available and/or appropriate 6.5 If a satisfactory level of attendance has been achieved at the end of the monitoring period the employee will be advised in writing and reminded of the need to sustain their level of improvement. If the level of improvement is not maintained, the absence procedure will result in progression to Stage Stage 3 Review Short term absence 7.1 Stage 3 is reached when: The employee has failed to achieve a reduction in absence since the Stage 2 review such that it now falls below the defined trigger points. OR The initial improvement achieved at the end of the monitoring period set at Stage 2 has not been sustained. 6

7 7.2 In these circumstances the employee must be referred to Occupational Health for a report to be provided to the Headteacher/Manager (see guidance Referral to Occupational Health). 7.3 In the light of the medical report, which should normally be no more than six weeks old, a decision will be made on how to proceed. Options may include: Consideration of any recommendations Occupational Health may make in relation to reasonable adjustments, redeployment or ill health retirement No further action at this time, but a further monitoring period to be set on attendance levels. A further meeting being arranged (chaired by Headteacher/Governor with the authority to dismiss) to consider dismissal on absence grounds. An HR representative must attend this meeting See Guidance on conducting a Stage 3 Formal Review See Standard Letter Instruction to attend Stage 3 formal review See Standard Letter Instruction to attend Stage 3 formal review no return to work See Standard Letter confirming dismissal following EAR 7.4 If dismissed an employee s appeal rights will be in accordance with Appeal against decision to dismiss (see guidance Appeal against decision to dismiss) 8. Stage 1 Review Long term absence 8.1 Long-term sickness absence may be identified at Stage 1 (once the trigger is reached) when the case is reviewed and if there is an indication that the absence has been caused by an underlying medical condition. It is therefore essential that at this stage the employee is referred to the Medical Adviser for assessment no later than three weeks after the beginning of the absence period. See Standard Letter Referral to Occupational Health) 8.2 On receipt of the medical assessment a copy will be sent to the employee by the Headteacher/Manager. The case will then be reviewed in light of the medical information, the on-going impact on service delivery and other factors set out in paragraph 5.1 above. The employee will be required to meet with their Headteacher/Manager to discuss the situation and any options that may be available. This may also include any phased return to work. 8.3 If the employee is unable to attend any formal sickness review, they have the option of providing relevant information to the Headteacher/Manager for consideration or asking their trade union representative to represent them in their absence. 9. Stage 2 Review Long term absence 9.1 Where an employee s sickness absence has continued to be a cause of concern, it is important that this is kept under regular review by the Headteacher/Manager. This includes maintaining contact with the employee to see how they are progressing, further referrals to Occupational Health and case reviews with HR and Occupational Health where appropriate. 9.2 At an appropriate stage, the Headteacher/Manager shall make an assessment of the position based on the following factors: The nature of the illness and any medical information available. The likely length of the continuing absence and the likelihood of a return to work. Any other relevant circumstances including any adjustments that can be made to job duties/hours/etc, or other support if the employee can return to work (including stress risk assessments where appropriate). Any recommendation from Occupational Health of redeployment/ill health retirement Any phased return to work where this is supported by medical advice or is appropriate in the Headteacher/Manager s opinion. (see guidance Phased return to work) 7

8 9.3 It is important at this stage that the employee understands the serious concern, which exists about the length of their sickness absence and is given reasonable opportunity to discuss with their Headteacher/Manager any factors or personal circumstances, which they would like taken into account in the overall assessment of their absence. 9.4 If the Headteacher/Manager decides, in light of all the information, that it is not reasonably practicable to wait any longer for the employee to return to work or if the employee has returned but the subsequent level of absence has been unsatisfactory, the Headteacher/Manager should first consult their HR Advisor before taking any further steps. If it is decided to proceed the Headteacher/Manager should meet the employee (and confirm in writing) to advise them that their employment is at risk (EAR) and a failure to reduce their level of sickness absence will result in the decision to dismiss being considered at a formal meeting. There is a right of appeal against a decision to issue an EAR. (See guidance on Appeal against the decision to issue an EAR) 9.5 The EAR letter will be placed on the employee s file, but will be disregarded for the purposes of this procedure after a period of two years of satisfactory attendance. 10. Stage 3 Review Long term absence 10.1 When an employee does not return to work, or does not sustain an acceptable level of attendance following the issue of an EAR, a further meeting at an appropriate time will be arranged to consider dismissal on absence grounds. It is essential that up to date Occupational Health advice is obtained including whether the employee will be able to return to work or sustain regular attendance within a period of time that the Headteacher/Manager considers to be reasonable or whether they recommend that the employee can no longer carry out their duties and should not return to their existing post See Guidance Conducting a Stage 3 Formal Review See Standard Letter confirming dismissal following EAR If dismissed an employee s appeal rights will be in accordance with Appeal against decision to dismiss employee on sickness absence grounds (see guidance Appeal against decision to dismiss) 11. Other key issues in managing attendance 11.1 Misconduct and absence Disciplinary action will be taken where: The employee s reported absence is proven not to be genuine The employee engages in conduct the Headteacher/Manager considers prejudicial to their recovery unless the employee s medical advice states otherwise. An employee unreasonably refuses to attend or fails to attend a meeting without good reason with Occupational Health or be examined by that Adviser. Employees need to be aware that any such refusal may result in decisions being made on the facts available at the time. (see disciplinary procedure) 11.2 Role of Occupational Health Control of absence is a management issue and referral to Occupational Health should not be used as a substitute for such action Employees can be referred to Occupational Health at any time. Early referrals would be particularly beneficial in the following situations 8

9 (a) short term absence cases relating to stress and musculoskeletal causes (b) absences where a range of different causes have been reported (c) long term absences to identify underlying medical conditions where there is no immediate return to work envisaged (d) regular reviews for long term absence to check progress (e) where you require a report regarding whether an employee can attend a formal absence meeting Occupational Health must be consulted in all sickness-related cases, prior to terminating an employee s service and earlier, where appropriate (see guidance Referral to Occupational Health, Conflict between OH and employee s GP) A duty of care referral may be made to Occupational Health where levels of sickness absence have not triggered informal/formal action but where advice is required to offer support and minimise potential future absence If at any time the advice of Occupational Health conflicts significantly with the opinion of the employee s own GP then the employee should be interviewed or examined by an independent Medical Referee (see Conflict between the OH Medical Adviser and Employee s GP) Sick Pay Royal Greenwich operates a sick pay scheme in accordance with the provisions of the National Agreements. Nothing in that scheme prevents School/Royal Greenwich from considering terminating an employee s service due to sickness absence prior to an employee exhausting their entitlements Annual Leave and sickness Annual leave entitlement continues to accrue during sickness absence regardless of how long the employee is off. Paid annual leave may be taken during a period of sick leave (even if covered by a medical certificate). Any leave accrued (to a maximum of the difference between what leave they have already taken and the statutory four week entitlement) during a period of sickness may be carried over to be taken within the following year Absence due to Pregnancy This procedure does not apply to sickness absence as a consequence of pregnancy, from the time of conception up to the conclusion of the statutory/contractual maternity leave period. Sickness absence that occurs after that period is covered by this procedure and should be managed accordingly Industrial Injury Royal Greenwich operates a separate Industrial Injury Scheme. Where a Headteacher/Manager believes that an employee's absence as a result of an industrial injury gives rise to managerial concern, action should be taken in accordance with the principles of this procedure. Absences due to sickness and industrial injury are separate for pay purposes. They must be recorded as one or the other and the employee will be entitled to either sick pay or industrial injury pay, not both. The procedure for reporting and vetting industrial injury absences should be followed Probationers/Other Employees with less than 26 Weeks Service During the period of probation an employee s work performance and conduct are assessed, in order that a decision may be taken concerning the employee s suitability for permanent employment. One of these considerations is the employee s attendance record, and it should 9

10 be clearly understood that there is nothing improper about terminating an employee during his/her probationary period because of unsatisfactory attendance record. Equally it should be appreciated that there is nothing unlawful in terminating an employee s employment whilst he/ she is on sick leave. Obviously the Headteacher/Manager must ensure that the dismissal is fair and that all of the procedures for probationary periods have been observed. Similarly, the Headteacher/Manager must examine each case in the round and ensure that they are not being excessively harsh. In particular, the manager will have regard to the nature and frequency of the illness. The Headteacher/Manager, where appropriate, should consult Schools HR where dismissal is being considered Employees who in the Headteacher/Manager s opinion are unfit to work due to sickness. Headteacher/Managers have a duty under Health and Safety legislation to take appropriate action where they believe that an employee is unfit to work. If a Headteacher/Manager believes that an employee is unfit to work they should first discuss the matter with the employee and encourage them to absent themselves on the grounds of sickness and to seek medical advice if appropriate. If an employee refuses then they should be placed on medical suspension and arrangements should be made for the employee to be interviewed or examined urgently by Occupational Health. If Occupational Health, or the employee s own Medical Adviser confirms that the employee is unfit then the period of absence will be treated as sickness. In the event that the employee is deemed to be fit by either the employee s own GP or Occupational Health and the Headteacher/Manager continues to have significant concerns a management decision will need to be taken as to whether the period of medical suspension is extended pending further advice. If the advice of Occupational Health conflicts significantly with the opinion of the employee s own GP then the employee should be interviewed or examined by an independent Medical Referee (see Guidance Conflict between the OH Medical Adviser and Employee s GP). If Occupational Health does not confirm that the employee is unfit then the period of absence will be regarded as special leave Trade Union Officials In the case of Trade Union Officials who are absent due to sickness, no action should be taken beyond Stage 1 until the circumstances of the case have been fully discussed with a full-time official of the Union concerned and a HR Coaching and Advice team representative Part-time employees Any trigger points or targets set for improvement in accordance with this procedure shall apply equally to part-time employees as outlined below. Therefore an employee who works 4 days pw (0.8) would have a trigger of 7 days. The trigger of 3 periods over 5 working days would also apply to part-timers. 10

11 FTE Trigger Time off for medical and dental appointments 12.1 Staff attending medical appointments (doctor, dentist, optician, hospital etc.) should normally do so in their own time. In some cases, it is difficult to arrange appointments outside normal working hours and is therefore reasonable in such cases to allow time off work, subject to service considerations. Where possible, staff should make appointments at times that minimise disruption to service delivery e.g. taking time off at either the beginning or end of your normal working day or during the lunch period, using flexi-leave, TOIL or annual leave. In exceptional circumstances where an employee requires urgent treatment and has no choice about when an appointment can be made, paid time off may be given and this will be recorded as medical appointment under the sickness absence reporting arrangements. Staff requesting time off may be required by their Headteacher/Manager to produce an appointment document confirming details of the appointment. Pregnant employees have the right to paid time off for antenatal care appointments; see maternity policy for further information Treatment for Underlying Medical Conditions For staff who need to undergo regular treatment for an underlying medical condition, appointments during working hours should be accounted for as above (see below for employees with disabilities). In some cases a temporary adjustment of the employee s contractual hours may be appropriate. Each case will be treated on its merits and much will depend on the individual circumstances and the nature of the treatment. Arrangements should be discussed and agreed, in advance between the individual and his/her Headteacher/Manager Cancer Screening Employees are entitled to paid time off for cancer screening. In the event that cancer is diagnosed absence will be monitored in accordance with the sickness procedure Employees with Disabilities It is essential that Headteacher/Managers ensure staff with disabilities are not unlawfully discriminated against for a reason, which relates to their disability. The Equality Act 2010 states that paid time off for medical appointments linked to disability will be treated as a reasonable adjustment and monitored in accordance with the sickness procedure. This may be taken into consideration when taking action, if appointments are frequent, on-going and /or are having an impact on the service. Accurate recording and monitoring of medical appointments where paid time off is granted is essential not only in terms of good management practice but also in demonstrating 11

12 reasonable adjustments taken in respect of disabled employees. Management Guidance Notes). (Refer to Attendance 13. Further guidance and advice 13.1 Headteacher/Managers should contact their HR Advisor in the first instance on the application of this policy 12

13 ATTENDANCE MANAGEMENT PROCEDURE GUIDANCE NOTES Contents Page No. Introduction... 3 Rights & Responsibilities in Managing Attendance... 3 Return to work meetings... 6 First day Sickness Certificates... 7 Conducting a Stage 1 Formal Review... 7 Setting a Monitoring Period... 8 Conducting a Stage 2 Formal Review... 9 Appeal against Decision to Issue a Stage 2 EAR... 9 Conducting a Stage 3 Formal Review Appeal against Decision to Dismiss Phased Return to Work following extended sickness absence Referrals to Occupational Health Conflict between Occupational Health and Employee s GP Dealing with Disability Related Absence Dealing with Stress Related Absence Terminal Illness Procedure for Reporting & Vetting Industrial Injury Absences Appendix 1 Monitoring Periods Example Scenarios Appendix 2 Stage 3 Formal Review Meeting Format Appendix 3 Appeal Procedure Appendix 4 Appeal Meeting Format Appendix 5 Delegation to Headteacher of staff dismissals

14 1. Introduction 1.1 This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Attendance Management Procedure which details the arrangements for managing the attendance of employees in all community and voluntary controlled primary, secondary and special schools. The procedure does not apply to agency staff, temporary employees with less than 26 weeks service and those on probation. The procedure is effective from September Rights & Responsibilities in Managing Attendance Headteachers, governing bodies, the Royal Borough and individual employees all have a part to play in the management of sickness absence 2.1 Employees have the following responsibilities: To maintain a high level of attendance at work and meet their contractual obligations to work. To only report sick when genuinely unfit to attend, or remain at work. To notify the school, maintain contact and comply with the School s Sickness Reporting Procedure. To attend any medical interview or examination with Occupational Health if required in accordance with this procedure. To be responsible for supplying valid medical certificates and ensuring that there are no gaps in any absence requiring certification. To attend Return-to-Work (RTW) contacts with their Manager/Headteacher/Governors, and any other meetings required in accordance with this procedure. To discuss any disability they may have with their Manager/Headteacher/Governors if they wish to have that disability taken into account in relation to their job. To refrain from engaging in any conduct that will be prejudicial to their recovery during any period of sickness absence. To seek appropriate medical advice about the effect of any conduct on their future recovery. Employees have the following rights: To be treated with respect, understanding and compassion. To have their case dealt with fairly and to be made aware of their rights under the Attendance Management procedure. To be given an opportunity to discuss their attendance with the appropriate Manager, Headteacher or Governors before any decision is made and to be given an opportunity to respond. To have access to their medical information and to receive copies of their medical reports when requested, subject to the provisions of the Access to Medical Records Act To have access to trade union representation, at all formal stages of the procedure, if requested. To be advised of the implications of unsatisfactory attendance and to be given an opportunity to improve through the setting of a monitoring period to bring the level of absence below the trigger points. To be advised where they can obtain/access a copy of the procedure. To have their case treated in a confidential manner. To be given reasonable advance warning of when their sick pay is about to be stopped or reduced. To be treated in accordance with the Royal Borough s/schools Equal Opportunities Policy. To appeal against any decision to dismiss on the grounds of sickness absence. 2.3 Royal Borough has the following responsibilities: The Royal Borough will assist schools in managing levels of absence by: Ensuring that appropriate procedures on the management of attendance are recommended for adoption by schools. To ensure Managers/Headteachers/Governors are aware of the Royal Borough s approach in dealing with managing attendance and the procedures to be applied when action becomes necessary. To terminate an employee s service where the level of absence is no longer acceptable. The Royal Borough has the following rights: To be present at hearings which could result in dismissal. 14

15 2.4 Headteachers/Managers/Governors have the following responsibilities (where appropriate) To provide a healthy and safe working environment. To fulfill the duty of care obligation to all employees To take account of its employees' health and to provide support consistent with their medical condition and contractual entitlements and to make reasonable adjustments where required. To take appropriate action to maintain services when absence levels become excessive. To strike a balance between the need for the work to be done and the employee's need for time to recover to full health. To effectively control and manage the School through the proper management of attendance. To ensure Managers are aware of the School s approach in dealing with attendance management and the procedures to be applied when action becomes necessary. To communicate with employees and maintain an awareness of their general welfare. To regularly monitor and review levels of attendance of any employee they manage and input sickness absence details on the HR Records System. To keep avoidable absence to an absolute minimum. To carry out Return-to-Work contacts after every period of absence. To make sure employees are aware of the Schools reporting procedures for sickness absence. To attempt to maintain contact with those on long-term sick leave, for example by regular telephone contact, by writing to the employee, or with the employee s prior agreement by visiting the employee at home. To give written notice of all formal review meetings and to confirm any decisions in writing setting out the reasons for the decision and any monitoring which have been set and the likely consequences of failing to bring the absence below the trigger points, for example moving to the next stage of the attendance management procedure, if relevant. To deal fairly but firmly with an employee whose level of sickness absence is unsatisfactory. To determine that the level of sickness absence is unsatisfactory and set monitoring in line with trigger points for improvement. To treat any information obtained as a consequence of applying this procedure confidentially. To work in accordance with the Royal Borough s Equal Opportunities Policy at all times. To ensure that the School meets its obligations in accordance with the Equality Act To consider the advice of the Royal Borough. To apply the Attendance Management procedure fairly. Headteachers/Managers/Governors have the following rights: To require an employee to undergo an interview or examination by Occupational Health To terminate an employee s service where the level of absence is no longer acceptable. To expect Managers to properly apply the sickness absence procedure and to effectively manage attendance. To consider terminating an employee s service prior to an employee exhausting their entitlements under the sickness scheme. To maintain an awareness of attendance levels, thoroughly review the circumstances relevant to each individual case, apply formal procedures only where necessary and apply the appropriate procedures properly. In appropriate cases to make contact in writing with the employee at home, or by regular telephone contact while observing the Human Rights Act In particular the provisions relating to respect for family life, home life and private life. To initiate procedures for the termination of service where the level of sickness absence is no longer acceptable. To institute action under the Schools disciplinary procedure where evidence indicates that the provisions in relation to sick leave are being abused. 2.5 Governing Body have the following responsibilities To adopt a sickness management procedure and regularly review this. To ensure that the Headteacher carries out his/her responsibilities as outlined in the procedure. To monitor the absence of the Headteacher and ensure appropriate procedures are applied. 15

16 To determine the appropriate course of action when a Headteacher refers a case when all actions taken by the Headteacher have failed to remedy the situation. To take account of the health of the school staff and to provide support consistent with their medical condition and contractual entitlements and to make reasonable adjustments where disabled. To take appropriate action to maintain services when absence levels become excessive. To strike a balance between the School s need for the work to be done and the employee's need for time to recover to full health. To provide a healthy and safe working environment. To effectively control and manage the School's services through the proper management of sickness absence. To consider the advice of the Royal Borough. Governing Body have the following rights To require an employee to undergo an interview or examination by the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser. To terminate an employee s service where the level of absence is no longer acceptable. To expect Headteachers/Managers to properly apply the sickness absence procedure and to effectively manage sickness absence. To consider terminating an employee s service prior to an employee exhausting their entitlements under the sickness scheme. To consider terminating an employee s service prior to an employee exhausting their entitlements under the sickness scheme. 3. Return to Work meetings 3.1 It is essential that return to work meetings are conducted routinely following every episode of absence, regardless of its duration. 3.2 The purpose of the return to work meeting is to ensure that the employee is fit to return to work in the first instance. The meeting will also be an opportunity to discuss the reason for the absence and identify any support required to minimise future absences. 3.3 Return to work discussions should be recorded on itrent. 4. First day Sickness Certificates 4.1 Where there is clear justification, based on sickness reord and pattern of sickness, a manager (as an outcome of a Stage 1 or Stage 2 formal review) may require an employee to provide a statement of fitness for work at more frequent intervals, including from the first day of absence. 4.2 Authorisation to proceed with this requirement will need to be sought and confirmed in writing from the Headteacher or Governor. 4.3 The employee will receive written notification of this requirement, prior to it being introduced. The costs of additional statements of fitness to work will be reimbursed. 4.4 In order to ensure fairness and consistency in the application of this requirement the School will undertake regualar monitoring and review to ensure that no particular groups or individuals are subject to discrimination or disadvantage. 5. Conducting a Stage 1 Formal Review 5.1 A stage 1 formal review will required when an employee s level of sickness absence has met the trigger points as detailed in the Attendance Management Procedure. 5.2 The format of the meeting should be as follows: Confirm that the meeting is a formal review and that the employee is aware of their right to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or a colleague. Review the record of attendance and any previous efforts to support a reduction in absence levels. 16

17 Consider any relevant medical information that is available or decide if an initial/further referral to Occupational Health is required. Identify the impact of the absence on the service delivery and colleagues. Discuss and consider the reasons for the absence as put forward by the employee. Where the absence is related to a disability consider if any reasonable adjustments are required which may assist them in reducing their absence. Advise the employee that an improvement in attendance is required. Confirm that their level of attendance will be formally monitored until such time that their level of absence falls below the trigger points defined in the Attendance Management Procedure. Confirm a further period of monitoring in the case of long term absence. Explain that their employment may be at risk if their attendance does not improve. 6. Setting a Monitoring Period 6.1 The aim of setting a monitoring period is to set a clear expectation regarding the level of attendance to be met and to clarify the implications of not achieving and sustaining an acceptable level of attandance that falls below the triggers stated in the Attendance Management Procedure. The monitoring period will be set for the period of time required to bring the level of absence below the trigger points. This may vary depending on the circumstances and the level and frequency of previous absence,however, it should be formally reviewed every three months as a minimum. (Please see Appendix 1- Example Scenarios) 6.2 When making a decision to set a monitoring period Headteachers/Managers/Governors must take into consideration the following: The School s trigger points for attendance management. The reason for the sickness. The volume of the sickness. The pattern of sickness Any previous action The length of service of the employee. The employee s sickness record during previous years. Whether an employee has a disability and whether reasonable adjustments have been made or are to be made. The needs of the School to be able to deliver an effective and efficient service. The School s target for absence levels. 6.3 When setting a monitoring period for an employee with a disability the manager should take into account any additional absence that may be as a direct result of the disability i.e. medical appointments related to the disability. 6.4 There is no right of appeal against the decision to set a monitoring period. 7. Conducting a Stage 2 Formal Review 7.1 A stage 2 formal review will be required in the following instances: When the monitoring period and reviews have failed to achieve a reduction in absence that falls within the Attendance Management trigger points. When the initial improvement achieved at the end of the monitoring period at Stage 1 has not been sustained. When long term absence identified at a Stage 1 review has continued to be a cause for concern. 7.2 The format of the review meeting will be the same as that detailed above for a Stage 1 formal review and will also be attended by an HR Advisor. However, the outcomes will potentially be one or both of the following: 17

18 Setting of a further monitoring period to allow for the level of absence to fall within the Attendance Management trigger points. Formal notification that employment is at risk (EAR) and that failure to improve attendance will result in a Stage 3 formal review where consideration will be given to their continuing employment. 7.3 There is the right of appeal against the decision to issue an Employment at Risk notice see Appeals Procedure (Appendix 3) and Appeal Meeting Format (Appendix 4). 8. Appeal against decision to issue an Employment at Risk (Stage 2) 8.1 There is a right of appeal against any decision by any Headteacher/Manager/Governor to advise an employee that their employment is at risk on absence grounds. The reason for appealing must be explained in writing and must relate to one of the following grounds: Unreasonable decision in the light of relevant medical information. Unreasonable decision in the light of personal information provided by the employee. 8.2 Medical information from the employee s Medical Adviser simply stating that the employee is too sick to work, or similarly vague opinions, will not be considered relevant medical information and therefore are not an allowable ground for appeal. 8.3 If the Employment at Risk is given by the Headteacher the employee has the right of appeal to a Governing Body Appeals Committee. If the Employment at Risk is given by a Manager, who is not the Headteacher the employee has the right of appeal to the Headteacher. An HR Advisor may also be present. 9. Conducting a Stage 3 Formal Review to Consider Dismissal. 9.1 The purpose of the meeting will be to consider the inability or failure of the employee to undertake the duties of the post by virtue of prolonged or repeated absence, certified or selfcertified as sickness absence. 9.2 The procedure set out in this guidance note will also be used as a guide for meetings where the dismissal is being considered following advice Occupational Health that the employee is permanently unfit, but the employee does not concur with that opinion. (Where the employee agrees they should be medically retired, separate Management Guidance on Ill-Health Retirement should be referred to). The employee will be advised in writing, giving five working days notice, of: The date, time and place of the meeting and of their right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or any other representative of their choice. The reasons for the meeting (to consider dismissal on absence grounds). Any previous action taken at earlier stages of the procedure to assist the employee in reducing their level of sickness absence. The impact their absence is having on their work, their colleagues and the service. The current medical report from Occupational Health. Their right to submit their own medical report, which will be provided in advance of the meeting. 9.3 The meeting at Stage 3 can be chaired by the Headteacher, if they have delegated responsibility to dismiss. Where the Headteacher does not have delegated responsibility to dismiss the meeting will be chaired by a Panel of Governors (Appendix 5). A representative from HR must be present. 9.4 If the employee does not attend, or is unable to attend they may, in advance, submit written representations (or rely on representation by a trade union representative or workplace colleague) in response to the information provided by management. 9.5 The concept of an adversarial hearing at this stage should be avoided, this is not a disciplinary issue. However, the meeting does need to be structured in order that management can set 18

19 out all the relevant information and the employee/ representative has a full opportunity to respond and set out the information they wish taken into account in the final decision. (please see Stage 3 Formal Review Meeting Format, Appendix 2). 9.6 The Headteacher/Governors should discuss the absences and attempt to identify any particular problems or difficulties, which the employee might be experiencing. In the case of disabled employees the Headteacher/Governors should give particular consideration to whether reasonable adjustments have or can be made to reduce the level of absence or whether any of the absence is in itself a reasonable adjustment. 9.7 The Headteacher/Governors must also consider relevant factors: The nature of the illness giving rise to the latest absence and the likelihood of it recurring or some other illness arising; The length of the various absences and the spaces of good health in between; The employer s need for the work to be done by the particular employee; The impact of the absences on others who work with the employee; The extent to which the managing Attendance Procedure has been complied with; The employee s attendance history and length of service; The extent to which the difficulty of the situation and the position of the School has been made clear to the employee so that the employee realises that the point of no return has been reached; and In the case of the Royal Borough s Medical Adviser s recommendation that the employee is permanently unfit, whether redeployment is available (if appropriate). 9.8 At the conclusion of the meeting the Headteacher/ Governors, in conjunction with HR will consider all the circumstances of the case and decide on an appropriate course of action, which may include: No action being taken and the case will kept under review for a set period of time. The matter is referred back to Occupational Health. The employee is encouraged to seek medical advice/specialist assistance. Assistance is provided to the employee by way of changing hours/duties/location/working environment/volume or nature of work etc. The stage 3 meeting is adjourned and re-convened at a later date. The employee is dismissed (with appropriate notice) from the School/Royal Borough's service. 9.9 If the manager decides, following advice provided by the HR Advisor that the employee should be dismissed a letter should be sent by the Stage 3 Headteacher/Governors confirming the decision and advising the employee of their rights of appeal. 10. Appeal against Decision to Dismiss 10.1 There is a right of appeal to an Appeals Committee against the decision of a Headteacher/Governors to dismiss an employee on sickness absence grounds. The reason for the appeal must be explained in writing and must relate to one of the following grounds: Unreasonable decision in the light of relevant medical information Unreasonable decision in the light of personal information provided by the employee Occupational Health has recommended that the employee is permanently unfit and this has led to the decision to dismiss but the appellant does not concur Medical information from the employee s GP simply stating that the employee is too sick to work, or similarly vague opinions, will not be considered relevant medical information and therefore are not an allowable ground for appeal The decision of the Headteacher/Manager/Governor to dismiss the appellant shall be effective from the date of the Stage 3 Formal Review, unless amended or overturned by an Appeals Committee. See Appeals Procedure (Appendix 3) and Appeal Meeting Format (Appendix 4). 19

20 11. Phased return to work following extended sickness absence 11.1 It is in the interests of both the employee and the School for an employee to return to work on reduced hours rather than remain off sick until they are able to return full time. Subject to any practical constraints, the School encourages such arrangements Each case must be considered on its merits and the following factors applied when considering whether an employee should return to work on reduced hours: There should be a recommendation from the employee s GP that such a course of action is desirable. The arrangement must be compatible with the operation and needs of the service. Advice should be sought from Occupational Health as to the duties to be undertaken, the hours to be worked and the duration of the arrangement. The arrangement should not normally exceed four weeks. Payment during the period will be at full pay where the employee works. For periods that are not worked then it should be treated as period of absences due to sickness and monitored in accordance with this procedure. Payment should be made in accordance with the employee s sick pay entitlements. Alternatively an employee may wish to use accrued annual leave or where applicable flexi or sabbatical leave. An employee s fitness to return to work full time should be supported by a medical certificate from the employee s GP and/or Occupational Health If the employee s GP confirms that they are fully fit to return to work and undertake the duties of their post, but the employee wishes to return on a phased basis, and their manager agrees, then the periods of absence should be taken as annual leave or where applicable flexi or sabbatical leave. 12. Referrals to Occupational Health 12.1 All employees must be informed if a decision is made to refer them to Occupational Health by their Headteacher/Manager/Governor, preferably in person followed by a letter Occupational Health should be asked specific questions, for example: The likely return to work date or any other alternative employment? The likelihood of fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of the post in the future? Whether there is an underlying medical condition, and whether this is likely to lead to a high level of sickness? Whether the employee is permanently unfit to undertake the duties of their post or any other comparable post? If the employee is permanently unfit to undertake the duties of their current post or any other comparable employment what other duties if any can they undertake commensurate with their medical condition (please specify the nature of the other duties)? Whether the employee is disabled within the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 What is the likelihood of the effect of the impairment on normal day-to-day activities continuing and for how long? What reasonable adjustments should be considered to facilitate their return to work? Managers are encouraged to make suggestions for adjustments for consideration by Occupational Health. Whether a change of job should be considered, whether it should be on a temporary or permanent basis and what reasonable adjustments should be considered? The Medical Adviser should also be informed if the matter has reached the stage immediately prior to terminating an employee s service on absence grounds The Medical Adviser's report (a copy of which should be given to the employee by their manager) will normally indicate one of the following: (i) There is no obvious underlying medical condition and the case should be dealt with by 'management action'. 20

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