MANAGING ATTENDANCE POLICY

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1 MANAGING ATTENDANCE POLICY 1. INTRODUCTION AND POLICY ISSUES 1.1 Principles Our employees are the most important resource in providing quality services and, as such, it is vital that their attendance at work is managed effectively. Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC) has a clear written policy which North Ridge Community School has adopted for handling staff sickness absence and for taking decisive action to reduce sickness absence levels which disrupt the provision of services. This includes clear procedures for the monitoring of staff absences, for taking appropriate responding action, and for encouraging the promotion of good health. Managers should be adequately informed about staff sickness absence. Appropriate monitoring of sickness absence is of benefit to the general well being of the service as good practice for human resource management. Effective monitoring and management of attendance will help to: Make a positive contribution to the health and well-being of the workforce; Reduce costs; Enhance service provision; Identify factors in the workplace which may be affecting employee attendance. Absence may occur for the following reasons: (a) (b) (c) (d) Physical or mental incapacity Disability Long term ill health Short term sickness At any point in this procedure an employee may be asked to attend a Health and Well Being interview so that information can be gained to help manage issues of health and attendance. Any referral to Health and Well Being must be done by the manager in consultation with the individual. Procedures will not be delayed in circumstances where employees will not engage with health and wellbeing.

2 In some cases the Managing Attendance at Work Procedure and the appropriate Capability Procedure may be interchangeable. The procedure will not apply to matters relating to conduct. The Disciplinary Procedure will be used in such circumstances. Representation by relevant, recognised Trade Unions will be encouraged. An employee has the right to be accompanied by his/her Trade Union or a colleague at every stage of the procedure. Employees will be informed of this right throughout the procedure. 1.2 Scope The procedure applies to all employees, except: teachers and employees in schools where the Governing Body has delegated powers It is intended to provide a fair and consistent framework of good practice which will help managers to deal with the issues related to absences from work, and encourage attendance, by looking for solutions to underlying problems. However, it is important to take account of the circumstances surrounding each individual case in deciding appropriate action and if managers are in any doubt, they should consult their Human Resources consultant for advice. Health or any other physical or mental issues which are leading to attendance problems, should be dealt with under this procedure. This procedure does not deal with health or any other physical or mental issues which are leading to performance problems, the Managing Employee Performance policy should be used in these cases. 2. MONITORING 2.1 Managers Responsibilities In the first instance, managers will: Ensure every employee knows what is expected of them in relation to sickness notification; Inform new starters, during their induction, of the importance of maintaining regular attendance; Monitor attendance on an on-going day-to-day basis. Keep appropriate records to assist in the management of employee attendance; Subsequently, as part of normal duties, managers will: Take appropriate action when an employee is absent from work; Undertake return to work discussions every time an employee returns from sickness absence, as soon as possible; Conduct or participate (as appropriate) in the various stages of the Short-term Absence Review Process outlined in Section 2 which is first triggered when an employee has been absent for a total of 8 working days in any rolling twelve month period (or pro rata for staff who work less than 5 days per week) or 3 separate occasions in a 12 month rolling period, or has a pattern of absence which is causing concern. Page 1

3 2.2 Notification, Contact and Certification of Sickness Absence It is vital that regular contact takes place between an employee and their manager during any period of sickness absence. On the 1 st day of sickness absence The employee must telephone their line manager by the agreed specified time, stipulated by the employing service (it is expected that this would be no later than 1 hour after the employee s normal starting time). Where possible the employee should speak directly to their manager. If their line manager is not available the employee should leave brief details of their absence with a colleague, along with a contact telephone number. The line manager will then return the call as soon as possible that day. The manager will establish the nature of the illness and the anticipated length of the employee s unavailability for work. They will finally agree that if absence extends to day 3, whether a further call would be appropriate and what time this should be made by. The absence should then be recorded by the line manager as appropriate and notified to Pay & Employment via weekly sickness returns. Where the line manager is unavailable e.g. due to annual leave, then they will have nominated either a colleague or their own line manager to undertake this stage of the process. In exceptional circumstances it may not be possible for the employee to make contact themselves e.g. hospitalisation. In these circumstances a nominated relative, friend or representative may act as the contact person on their behalf. On 3 rd day of sickness absence If absence continues to a 3 rd day and it has been agreed that further welfare contact is required, then the employee is encouraged to contact their line manager, at the time agreed on day 1, to discuss their health and well being and again, establish the likely length of the employee s unavailability for work. If the employee indicates that the absence is likely to exceed 7 calendar days, the manager will remind them of the need for a medical certificate from day 8. If the employee does not make contact by the agreed time on day 3 then the line manager will contact them instead. On return to work from absence of 7 calendar days or less The employee should complete a Self-Certification form (SCS1) on their return to work and pass this to their line manager during their return to work interview. It is important that employees who become fit for work on a day that is not part of their normal working week e.g. weekend or an off shift day, make sure they notify their manager of the exact day that they became fit for work, otherwise it will be recorded as the next working day they return to work. On the 8 th day of absence The employee should provide a medical certificate from a Doctor. Again the employee (or someone on their behalf) should provide an update on their continued absence. Consecutive medical certificates should then be submitted to cover the total period of absence. Any periods of absence not covered by an appropriate certificate will result in a deduction of pay. Page 2

4 Fit to Work Note The Fit to Work Note replaced the sick note in April Its aim is to remove barriers that may be preventing an employee from either, remaining at, or returning to work. GP s can make suggestions about how an employer can support an employee and this may include phased return to work, modified duties or hours, or other workplace adaptations. The information and suggestions provided by a GP are not binding on an employer and if you are unable to accommodate the suggestions made by a GP (for example because it is not possible to offer light duties within the type of work undertaken) then the employee will be classed as Unfit to Work either until such time as adjustments can be made or their GP provides updated information. However, employers are still required to consider their obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 (this has replaced the Disability Discrimination Act) this has not changed. If you require advice about information contained on a Fit to Work note in relation to the workplace or want to discuss workplace adjustments, please contact Health and Well Being. Failure to notify Failure to notify, or delay in notifying sickness absence may result in a colleague attempting to make contact in a supportive capacity to ensure all is well from a welfare aspect. Employees must notify their manager when taking holidays during periods of sickness. If an employee fails to provide appropriate sickness certification, a discussion should take place with the employee to determine why they have not complied with the procedure. If the manager is satisfied with the explanation then no action need be taken however, if the manager is not satisfied with the explanation then disciplinary action may be taken or the employee s pay stopped. Failure to notify the Employer when in receipt of Incapacity Benefit No employee should earn more while they are off sick than they do when attending work. Anyone who is in receipt of incapacity benefit while off sick must advise the HR Operations team so that the appropriate adjustments can be made to pay. Failure by the employee to notify the employer when they are in receipt of incapacity benefit could ultimately impact on other benefits (eg housing benefit or child tax credits) and may lead to disciplinary action being taken. Sickness Returns Sickness absence must be input to the HR Portal on a weekly basis. This will enable accurate recording for payroll purposes to take place and minimise any over or underpayments. It will also ensure accurate performance data is supplied to the quarterly performance clinic and assist with the identification of hot spot areas to where targeted support and assistance can be directed. Alongside the sickness data, information will also be provided to the quarterly performance clinic about the number of sickness returns completed and the number missing within their directorate in the previous period. 2.3 Absence due to Industrial Injury When an employee is absent from work due to an industrial injury, this will still form part of the absence review trigger points, and will be included as part of the monitoring process to ensure that any necessary support is identified and provided. Page 3

5 2.4 Absence related to a Disability When an employee is absent from work and the absence is related to a disability managers need to consider whether any reasonable adjustments are necessary to assist an earlier return to work, limit future absence and support the employee in achieving an appropriate level of attendance. If reasonable adjustments are being considered, guidance and support should be sought from Health and Well Being, who may also be able to advise about external sources from which to access further assistance. Examples of reasonable adjustments could be: extending triggers points; providing specialist equipment; modifying days or hours of work; modifying duties. 2.5 Absence related to Stress When an employee is absent from work and the absence is stress related managers should undertake an early referral to Health and Well Being. They should also refer to the Stress Management Policy and associated documents which are available on the intranet and have been designed to support the management of stress in the workplace. It is strongly advised that when an employee identifies they are suffering from stress, whether this has led to absence from work or not, a risk assessment should be completed in order to identify the stressors and put in place effective mechanisms to address them. Some stress related referrals to Health and Well Being may be needed on the first day of absence, for example where the absence is work related. However in some circumstances an early referral is not necessary, for example where the absence is bereavement related. Managers should use their discretion to determine when an early referral is needed with advice from HR if needed. 2.6 Return to Work Discussions A return to work discussion must take place after every period of absence. Where at all possible, the manager will arrange to see the employee for a return to work discussion on the day of their return. If it is not possible on the day of return then it must take place at the earliest opportunity. A brief record must be kept of this meeting, which should be agreed and signed as a true record by the employee and the manager conducting the discussion. 2.7 Annual Leave and Sickness Absence Employees requesting the use of annual leave or lieu days (TOIL - time off in lieu) rather than sickness absence, may be allowed to do so where service requirements would have allowed for leave to be granted in normal circumstances. Approval must be given by the appropriate manager. 2.8 Sickness Absence during a Disciplinary Investigation If an employee falls ill during any part of the formal process of the Council s Disciplinary Procedure they should follow the normal reporting procedures and provide the relevant certificates to certify their absence. The school has a duty to complete any disciplinary process as soon as possible and therefore the employee will be expected to continue to participate in the formal process while they are absent. A formal disciplinary process will only be suspended if a medical recommendation from Health and Well Being confirms this is necessary. Page 4

6 2.9 Trigger Points If as a result of either the length or frequency of the employee s sickness absence they hit a trigger point, the manager should commence with the appropriate absence review as outlined below: A short term absence review trigger point is defined where an employee s record shows: 8 working days of absence, in any rolling twelve month period, and/or; 3 periods of absence or more in any rolling twelve month period, and/or; a pattern of absence which is causing concern, for example, regular Friday or Monday absences or absences regularly occurring at a particular time of month or year. (Where an employee works less than a 5-day working week then the working days trigger points should be pro rata-ed) A long term absence review trigger point is defined as: any period of continuous absence of 4 weeks (28 days) or more Referral to Health and Well Being Employees should be referred to Health and Well Being using the MED10 form at the following times: Any absence which is recorded for reasons of a musculo-skeletal condition should be considered for referral from day 1 of absence, where the absence may be reduced by physiotherapy; Any absence which is recorded for reasons of stress, anxiety, depression can be referred from day one but managers are advised to use their discretion in determining the appropriateness of this based on each individual case; Any long term absence for a reason other than those mentioned above, should be referred after four consecutive weeks of absence; Absence for short term reasons can be done either when absences are for the same recurring reason or high levels of absence are for a variety of different reasons; Employees can also be referred to Health and Well Being, using the H10 form, if there are health related issues which are causing concerns but are not necessarily leading to absence or attendance issues. Making a referral to Health and Well Being at the appropriate time is essential to ensure timely provision of medical information to support effective management of employee absence/attendance at work. Employees who are being referred to Health and Well Being must be informed in writing by their line manager. Further information is available within the relevant factsheet. 3. Absence Review Process When an employee hits the absence trigger points, and if no action had been previously taken, the following process will be adopted. Note: In operating this process, care will always be taken to comply with the Equality Act Detailed information is available from Human Resources. Page 5

7 3.1 Summary of Absence Review Process The informal stages of the process are those discussions which take place following a return to work from any period of absence. A record of these discussions must be kept. Stage 1: First Formal Attendance Review Interview If attendance level is unacceptable i.e. for short term 8 days/3 separate occasions or more in 12 months, or no return to work from long term absence letter sent to employee with sick record requesting attendance at formal interview, with manager, with representation if so wished (giving 5 working days notice) advice sought from HR if required discuss absences with employee and identify any underlying reasons see if any assistance can be offered, e.g counsellingreview of work life balance etc options available - monitoring period put into place - referral to Health & Well Being if not already done - workplace assessments and adaptations - redeployment - case conference notes to be kept of meeting and/or individual action plan to be completed advise employee of the next stages of the process confirm outcome of meeting in writing Where a further trigger is reached during a monitoring period, consideration should be given to issuing a written warning/appeal at this stage of the policy through a further meeting in line with the above. Note: For short term absence it may be appropriate to stay at Stage 1 for more than one meeting. Stage 2 should only commence for short term absence once a written warning has been issued at Stage 1 Stage 2: Second Formal Attendance Review Interview If attendance level is still unacceptable i.e. for short term 2 days/2 occasions or more in 3 months, or no return to work from long term absence. Or following a successful 3 month monitoring period for short term 4 days/2 occasions or more in 6 months, or no return to work from long term absence letter sent to employee with sick record, requesting attendance at formal meeting with manager, with representation if so wished (giving 5 working days notice) advice sought from HR if required discussion similar to previous meeting options available - continued monitoring - referral to Health & Well Being if not already done - workplace assessments and adaptations - redeployment - case conference - Final written warning/appeal; containing advice that employee may be dismissed if attendance fails to improve and right of appeal notes to be kept of meeting and/or individual action plan to be completed advise employee of the next stages of the process confirm outcome of meeting in writing Page 6

8 Stage 3: Final Formal Review - Attendance Hearing If attendance level is still unacceptable and/or no return to work has occurred Letter sent to employee with sick record and supporting documents, requesting attendance at formal hearing, with Hearing Manager, with representation if so wished (giving 10 working days notice) HR adviser will be in attendance manager reviews attendance record and puts forward case for dismissal on grounds of failure to maintain acceptable level of attendance employee given opportunity to respond and/or offer mitigation Hearing Manager considers alternatives to dismissal - redeployment, if not already considered - workplace assessments and adaptations - further monitoring if decision to dismiss, employee dismissed with notice, and action confirmed in writing including right of appeal 3.2 Monitoring Periods Following a formal attendance meeting, the individual will be advised that their absence will be monitored over the following 3 months for short term absence or an appropriate period for long term absence. Employees will also be advised that should their absence levels reach the level equivalent to a quarter of the annual working days trigger point for short term absence i.e. a quarter of 8 days = 2 days or 2 periods of absence, then they will be required to attend a formal review meeting at the appropriate stage of the procedure. However, if the employee s attendance during the 3-month monitoring period improves significantly and they do not reach the revised trigger points, they will be advised in writing that their absence has reached a satisfactory level. They will also be advised that their absence will continue to be monitored over the following 6 month period and that if they reach a trigger point during that 6 month period they will automatically re-enter the procedure at the same stage. If it can be objectively justified, for example to demonstrate a continuing and sustained improvement in attendance, managers may consider extending monitoring periods to a maximum of 12 months. Where it becomes evident, over a reasonable period of time, that an employee is displaying repetitive patterns of poor attendance followed by the required improvement, it may be appropriate to fast track to a hearing rather than continuing in a cyclical pattern of formal monitoring. Advice should be sought from a HR Consultant before proceeding in these circumstances. It is important to take account of the circumstances surrounding each individual case in deciding appropriate action and if managers are in any doubt, they should consult Human Resources for further advice. 4. Pre-Absence Referral Where it is known, prior to an absence, that an employee is going to require time off work for health related issues e.g. elective surgery, then a Pre-Absence Referral should be done. The employee should be referred, in consultation with themselves, to Health and Well Being. Health and Well Being will then advise both the individual and the manager of what they may expect in terms of length of absence, any adjustments required (whether temporary or permanent) and any support that might be needed, in circumstances normal to their situation. Page 7

9 An employee who is absent in such circumstances should still expect to maintain regular contact with their line manager. Any absence which extends beyond the expected timescales will trigger the formal process. 5. Phased Return to Work During the review process for long term absence Health and Well Being may recommend that a phased return to work would be beneficial. Once an employee has been certified as fit to return to work following a period of long term absence, if the recommended phased return is of four weeks or less and involves reducing the normal working hours, this will be with normal full pay. If Health and Well Being recommend a phased return to work that is longer than four weeks, consideration may be given to extending normal full pay beyond four weeks. If the employee wishes to request to increase the phased return beyond four weeks, they will be asked to cover non-working time during the extended period with annual leave. A phased return to work may include modification to days or hours of work or adjustment to duties. 6. Ill Health Retirement If medical evidence indicates that the employee is unfit to fulfil the duties of their post, is unlikely to return to work and that redeployment is not a viable way forward, the manager, in consultation with a HR Officer may decide to pursue ill health retirement. It is important to emphasise that the decision to pursue this course of action rests with management, not Health and Well Being or the employee. 7. Right of Appeal Employees have the right of appeal against any formal written warning and against the decision to dismiss. Appeals should be put in writing within 15 working days of receiving notification of the decision. Appeals should be sent to: the Officer who issued the warning, if appealing against a first or final written warning; and the Assistant Director of Human Resources and Communications, if appealing against dismissal. The appeal letter should contain the following: action being appealed against; clear reason for the appeal; the name and address of their representative (where applicable). If the appeal letter does not contain the above, the employee will be requested, in writing, to provide the information before the appeal can be arranged. Following the appeal hearing the employee should be informed of the decision, in writing, and that this is the final stage of the procedure. Page 8

10 Approved by Governors: Signed:.. Date: Review Date: Autumn Term 2016 Page 9

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