Sickness Absence Policy & Procedure

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Human Resources

Sickness Absence Policy & Procedure

Revised December 2010

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1. Purpose and Scope

This policy is aimed at enabling sickness absence to be addressed consistently

and fairly across the University and sets out procedures for reporting and recording sickness absence, and establishing guidelines for managers and staff in relation to sickness absence.

It applies to all categories of University staff and Ordinance 11A.5 Sickness

Absence Procedure also applies to Academic Staff1.

. Whilst this policy has

been written to ensure that the process outlined in Ordinance 11A.5 is followed, this Ordinance should be referred to when an Academic member of staff is going through the sickness absence process

The University is committed to improving the health, well-being and attendance of all employees. We value the contribution our employees make to our success. So when an employee is unable to work for any reason, that contribution is missed. This absence policy explains:

 What is expected from managers and employees when handling absence

 How we can work together to reduce absence levels to a minimum. This policy and procedure does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment. It may be amended from time to time with appropriate consultation with recognised trade union representatives.

2. POLICY PRINCIPLES

The University’s sickness absence policy is based on the following principles: (i) Regular, punctual attendance is an implied term of every employee’s

contract of employment. Employees should take responsibility for achieving and maintaining good attendance.

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Those covered by Lecturer A & B, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor, Teaching Fellow, Senior Teaching Fellow and Professorial Teaching Fellow Role Profiles

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(ii) We will support employees who have genuine grounds for absence for whatever reason. This support may include:

 ‘Special leave’ for necessary absences not caused by sickness. Please see the University’s Leave Policy;

 A flexible approach to taking annual leave;

 Access to University’s Well Being Centre and University counsellors;  Special arrangements for employees with chronic conditions

(appropriate on a case by case basis);

 Monitoring the institutional environment for possible causes of ill health;

 Ensuring that employees who are ill are treated sympathetically and that every effort is made to assist recovery and safeguard their employment;

 Having effective arrangements in place to cover sickness absence. (iii) We will use an Occupational Health Advisor/Physician, where

appropriate to:

 Help identify the nature of an employee’s illness;

 Check for any underlying causes of frequent short-term absences;  Give advice to managers when an employee has been declared

fit for work by their GP subject to workplace modifications, altered hours or amended duties being implemented.

 All employees with a medical statement that shows a mental health illness or physical impairment will automatically be referred to Occupational Health.

 Review all employees who have been provided with a statement of fitness to work that recommends adjustments, on the expiry of the statement.

 Advise the employee and their line manager on the best way to improve the employee’s health and well-being and manage their return to work following prolonged sickness absence;

 Assess the probability of an employee’s return to work and fitness to continue in his/her current occupation having regard for deployment and retraining opportunities, suitable equipment/aids and safeguards;

 Liaise with GP(s) and or Consultant(s) regarding an employee’s condition and prognosis on behalf of the University and in

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accordance with the Access to Medical Records Act.

 It is expected that staff fully co-operate with the Occupational Health Service (OHS) and attend appointments when arranged. If a member of staff is unable to attend they should give reasons, and reasonable notice wherever possible, and in addition, make a new appointment Failure to co-operate or comply with a reasonable management request to attend an appointment may result in action in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure.

See Appendix A for further information.

(iv) We undertake to provide payments to employees who are unable to attend work due to sickness, as long as certain conditions are met (see Appendix C).

(v) We may use the University’s Disciplinary Procedure if an explanation for absence is not forthcoming, is not thought to be satisfactory, or where someone has abused the system. This may result in warnings or, in certain circumstances, dismissal.

(vi) The University reserves the right to withhold payment of occupational sick pay (OSP) where an employee fails to co-operate or comply with reasonable requests or enquiries to ascertain his/her medical condition or in any way apply these procedures. Failure to comply may also be regarded as a disciplinary matter.

(vii) We are committed to maintaining the highest standard of service provision.

(viii) We respect the confidentiality of all information relating to an employee’s sickness. The policy will be implemented in line with all Data Protection legislation, the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and Access to Health Records Act 1990. Access to employee’s sickness absence records will be restricted to authorised persons only.

(ix) Information about absences relating to the disability of an employee or to pregnancy will be kept separate from sickness absence records. It should be noted that where an employee is absent due to a pregnancy related illness following the fourth week before the Expected Week of

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Childbirth maternity leave will automatically commence on the day after the first day of absence.

(x) In cases where the formal procedure needs to be invoked, all employees will have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work place colleague.

3. TYPES OF SICKNESS ABSENCE

Not all patterns of absence fall neatly into one of the following groups and/or the pattern may change over a period of time, so some flexibility of approach may be needed.

(i) Repeated Short Term Sickness Absence

This is where an employee has been absent from work through sickness or injury on a number of occasions within a defined time frame or absences which fall into a pattern over the same period. See the triggers points in the bullets below.

(ii) Long-term Sickness Absence

When an employee has been or is expected to be absent from work for more than 4 consecutive weeks. See the triggers points in the bullets below.

The trigger for review is not prescriptive, but it is generally considered that the following levels will initiate the appropriate sickness absence process (see Para. 6.1. – 6.3):

 Four incidents (of whatever length) in a consecutive four-month period;  10 non-continuous working days or more in a 12 month period;

 4 weeks/28 days continuous absence;  Any recurring recognisable patterns;

 Sickness absence related to mental health issues e.g. depression, anxiety, stress or because of a physical impairment an employee needs workplace modifications, an employee will automatically be referred to Occupational Health.

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4. PROCEDURE FOR NOTIFICATION OF SICK LEAVE

In the event of an employee becoming ill, and unable to carry out their duties, whilst at work, they will notify their line manager and/or Absence Administrator, following local reporting arrangements, before leaving for home or to visit their GP. Thereafter, the following procedure will apply.

If an employee is unable to attend work because of illness or injury, the procedure listed below must be followed:

On the first day of absence the employee must report his/her absence in

accordance with the specific requirements of his/her Faculty or Administrative/Service Department no later than one hour after their expected start time. The notification should where possible include a provisional diagnosis and a likely return date. If the absence is due to an injury at work this must be reported when notifying the Faculty/Department. It is also recommended that someone is made aware of any urgent work or other internal/external colleagues who may need to be informed of the absence (but not reason for it). In exceptional circumstances, for example in the event of hospitalisation, someone else may notify the department on the employee’s behalf. Text messaging or leaving a message with anyone at

random is not acceptable

The employee should maintain regular phone contact with their line manager

to advise on the progress of the illness or injury and the likely date of return to work. The frequency will depend on the circumstances, but as a minimum it should be after the first 4 working days and/or when there is any change to previously given information. If it is impractical for the employee to make contact e.g. in the event of hospitalisation, s/he should ensure that someone carries out this responsibility on their behalf.

If an employee believes that his/her condition may be related to an activity

or incident at work s/he should inform his/her manager. In these

circumstances the line manager should inform the Health & Safety Department or Faculty H&S Adviser immediately and (if this was not done at the time of the injury) complete an Incident Report Form based on the information given. This should be sent to the H&S Department or Faculty Safety Adviser within 2 days. An incident form should be sent to the employee for completion and return (if this was not done at the time of the

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injury).

If an employee has been exposed to a communicable illness (e.g. diarrhoea and vomiting, chicken pox, or an illness that could be passed onto colleagues in a workplace environment) s/he must inform their line manager. Human Resources (HR) will seek advice from occupational health to confirm whether s/he is ‘fit’ to attend work.

5. RECORD KEEPING AND MONITORING SICKNESS ABSENCE

5.1 Sickness Certification and Recording

The employee must provide the relevant form to their Faculty or Administrative Department’s Absence Administrator.

 For periods of sickness absence from 1 – 7 days a University Self Certificate must be completed on their return to work.

 For any period of absence of more than 7 days, a medical statement covering the relevant periods of absence should also be provided and sent into the Faculty or Administrative Department’s Absence Administrator.  Where an employee has been provided with a medical statement indicating

that they are ‘fit for work’ with recommended workplace adjustments they are required to contact their line manager immediately before returning to work and the process shown in Appendix D will be followed.

If a period of absence includes a weekend this should also be covered by either a self-certificate or medical certificate.

For on-going periods of sickness absence, medical certificates should continue to be sent regularly to the Faculty or Administrative Department’s Absence Administrator, until the employee is fit for normal duties. If an employee wishes to return to work before the expiry date of their medical statement, advice should be sought from Occupational Health before they are allowed to do so. This may involve a formal referral.

The HR representative of the Faculty or Administrative/Service Department will keep automated records of all sickness absence. If they are informed that the absence is due to an injury at work they must inform the Health & Safety

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Department and Faculty / Department Safety Adviser immediately so that the incident can be investigated.

The first step in managing sickness absence is to identify unusual and/or heavy patterns of absence which need to be addressed. This can only be done though maintaining records and monitoring absence levels on an individual and group basis.

Maintaining accurate statistical information also enables the University to fulfil its obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (RIDDOR regulations 1995), its general duty of care to employees, and ensures a fair and consistent approach.

It also facilitates positive action by providing information that will:

 Monitor an employee’s progress towards recovery and assists the return to work of employee’s who have been absent due to illness.

 Promote working conditions and practices which contribute to employee attendance by investigating underlying causes of high levels of absence within job or job groups and taking follow-up action, as appropriate.

The University operates a rolling 12 month period for reporting sickness absence.

5.2 Role of Human Resources Department

The HR representative of the Faculty or Administrative/Service Department has a responsibility to both the manager and the employee to advise on the interpretation and implementation of the policy and to advise on good practice. A representative from the HR Department will be present at all formal stages of this procedure.

Referrals to the Occupational Health Department will be made through HR. An employee may self refer to Occupational Health, although it is advisable that they discuss this with their line manager or Human Resources in the first instance.

5.3 Medical Appointments

Reasonable time off with pay will be allowed for hospital, doctors and dentist appointments or for emergency medical or dental treatment.

Staff are expected to make every effort to ensure that routine appointments are made before or after the working day. Where this is not possible, it

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expected that appointments will be arranged to minimise disruption to an individuals work. Therefore, appointments should be made at the beginning or end of the normal working day (i.e. within the first or last working hour), or possibly around a lunchtime period (with agreement).

It is accepted that there are cases when the employee has no control over appointment times, e.g. those allocated by a hospital or clinic, where the employee has been subject to a waiting list process.

5.4 Sickness during Annual Leave

If an employee falls sick whilst on annual leave, s/he should report the absence as soon as reasonably practicable and by no later than his/her return to work date. Normal reporting procedures will then apply.

Annual leave may be reclaimed for the days the employee is sick provided that a medical certificate is supplied to cover these days. Where an employee is abroad for this period, s/he should seek to get a medical certificate and this should be translated if the original is not in English. Each case will be reviewed with HR before agreement is given.

An employee on long term sickness will continue to accrue annual leave entitlement. and may take annual leave whilst on sick leave. For the period of annual leave sick pay entitlement will cease and the employee will receive their normal pay. They are required to get approval of all annual leave dates in accordance with the normal procedures. Wherever possible, accrued annual leave should be taken before the end of the leave year in which it is accrued. Employees on long term sickness absence will be allowed to carry leave forward to a different leave year if prevented from taking that leave due to sickness. Carry forward only applies to the statutory minimum holiday entitlement (28 days including Bank Holidays, pro rata for part time staff). If employment is terminated before an employee returns from sick leave, they will receive payment in lieu of any accrued but untaken annual leave within that leave year.

6. RETURN TO WORK

6.1 Self Certificated Absence

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discussion on the employee’s welfare, on his/her return to work. A return to work discussion should:

 Welcome the individual back to work;

 Confirm the reason for the employee’s absence;

 Find out if the employee has a health problem and, if so, whether there is some support which is reasonable and practicable to provide;

 Ensure that the appropriate medical certificates have been completed and submitted;

 Update the individual of any changes or developments within the University and/or Administrative Department/Faculty;

 Enquire whether the illness is work related;

 If the line manager is concerned about the individual’s absence or has identified any potential patterns of sickness, this should be brought to the individual’s attention. If the line manager has any specific concerns or identified a potential pattern, advice should be sought by HR in the first instance.

6.2 Medical Statement of Fitness to Work (the ‘Fit Note’)

These will fall into one of 2 categories:

a) Fit for Work with Adjustments

It is the responsibility of the employee to contact their line manager

immediately if they receive a medical statement which indicates they are fit to return to work with recommended work place adjustments. The procedure for dealing with this medical advice is set out in Appendix D.

b) Not Fit for Work

Regular communication with the line manager should be maintained as per section 4.

If an employee is requested to return to their GP before resuming work they must do so as it maybe that their GP will recommend adjustments or a phased return. In this instance the procedure in Appendix D must be followed.

If they are able to return to work when their medical statement expires without a requirement to see their GP before doing so then an informal discussion on the employee’s welfare should take place on his/her return to work in line with the process shown in (i) above.

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7. SICKNESS MANAGEMENT PROCESS AND PROCEDURES

Appropriateness of using Formal Action in Managing Sickness

The University accepts that it is inappropriate to use disciplinary action to manage genuine sickness absence. Warnings are going to be of limited use in the management of someone who is genuinely unwell and can be distressing to such individuals. The use of disciplinary action for absence therefore, will be limited to the following circumstances:

 Unauthorised absence;

 Falsely claiming sick leave and sick pay when sickness is not the cause of absence.

It is recognised that persistent or long term sickness absence cannot be supported indefinitely by the organisation no matter how genuine the sickness is. The processes described in this policy and in particular the cautions are not intended to be punitive but instead are used to advise the individual of the seriousness of their situation and the impact that continued absence is likely to have on their employment contract*.

7.1 Informal stage (interview of concern)

Where the employee’s absence record gives cause for concern, the line manager should discuss this with the member of staff on an informal 1:1 basis in the first instance. The manager should investigate whether there is an underlying problem resulting in the sickness absence(s) and consideration should be given to:

 The reasons for the absence; the employee should be given an opportunity to explain any circumstances, which might be contributing to their level of absence, or any other matter which they feel ought to be taken into account.

 Identifying any appropriate support, including referral to Occupational Health

A monitoring period of normally 8-12 weeks should be set in which significant improvement should be made.

The employee should be made aware that if sufficient improvement is not demonstrated, that the matter may be referred to the formal process.

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As this is an informal meeting, there is no requirement at this stage for the right to be accompanied by a union representative or fellow employee.

7.2 Frequent/Persistent Short Term Sickness Absences

Frequent and persistent short-term absences relate to situations where an employee is absent as a result of minor ailments. These absences may or may not be covered by medical certificates.

If at any stage an employee does not wish to discuss the matter with his/her line manager, the matter will be referred to HR or a suitable alternative individual.

A minimum of 48 hours notice should be given of any formal “Managing Attendance Meeting”.

At all formal “Managing Attendance” meetings, the manager will be accompanied by HR and the employee will be entitled to be accompanied by a trade union representative or fellow employee.

Any Improvement Notifications or ‘Caution’ issued will be held on file for 12 months.

Note: * The issuing of formal ‘Cautions’ will not impact upon the Vice

Chancellors Bonus, if one is given.

If an individual is unable to make a formal scheduled meeting s/he can suggest an alternative date within 5 working days of the original date set. It should be noted that if a date cannot be arranged with in a reasonable time frame, a decision maybe taken in absentia.

7.2.1 Stage 1 – First Formal

If there is no significant improvement in the attendance level within the monitoring period, and the employee continues to have frequent/persistent intermittent sickness absences from work, then a professional opinion will be sought from Occupational Health via HR (if this has not been carried out after the Informal Stage). This may include a report from an independent Medical Consultant or similar health professional and/or the individuals GP as required. Once the Occupational Health report has been received, the line manager should invite the employee to a formal “Managing Attendance Meeting”.

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Whether or not there is an underlying medical reason for the absence the manager should advise the employee of the effect that their absence is having on the department. Consideration should be given to:

 The reasons for the absence;

 Identifying any appropriate support

The manager will consider the employee’s submission and do the following:  Decide that no further action is necessary; or

 Specify what, if any, assistance can be offered to the employee; AND

 Issue the employee with an Improvement Notification advising the individual that the level of their sickness absence is unacceptable and that significant improvement in the level of attendance is required normally within 8-12 weeks to avoid moving to the next stage of the procedure.

At the end of the specified review period the employee’s level of attendance will be assessed by the line manager as follows:

 Where an improvement to below the appropriate University trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated, no further action will be taken.

 Where a significant improvement has been demonstrated, however absence levels remain above the University trigger level(s) for sickness absence, the line manager will continue monitor the absence on an informal basis until the employee's absence levels fall below the trigger level.

 Where there has been no or little improvement in the sickness absence the line manager will consider whether there are factors relating to the employee’s absence which suggest that the present high level of absence will be temporary. If such evidence exists the line manager will use their discretion to decide whether to instigate a further formal review period of normally 8 – 12 weeks. Where such evidence does not exist the line manager will issue a Stage 1 Caution and progress the matter to Stage 2 - Second Formal.

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 Where an improvement to below the appropriate University trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated in the past, but a further related deterioration in absence is identified, or where the absence remains above the trigger levels or deteriorate during the 12 month period following the review period the line manager may use their discretion to refer directly to Stage 2 – Second Formal.

7.2.2 Stage 2 – Second Formal

Whether or not an underlying medical condition can be established, the steps outlined in Stage 1 - First Formal should be repeated.

At Stage 2 – Second Formal a Level 2 Improvement Notification will apply. At the end of the specified review period the employee’s level of attendance will be assessed by the line manager as follows:

 Where an improvement to below the appropriate University trigger level(s) has been demonstrated, no further action will be taken.

 Where a significant improvement has been demonstrated, however absence levels remain above the University trigger level(s) for sickness absence, the line manager will continue monitor the absence on an informal basis until the employee's absence levels fall below the trigger level.

 If within 12 months of the date of issue of the Level 1 Caution the employee’s absence levels deteriorate to a point where they reach one of the triggers, the individual will return to Stage 2 - Second Formal.  A further report from an Occupational Health Professional or other

suitable independent medical professional may be obtained or if the circumstances have not changed then the previous reports that have been obtained may be used.

 Where there has been no improvement the Line Manager will consider whether there are factors relating to the employee’s absence which suggest that the present high level of absence will be temporary. If such evidence exists the line manager will decide whether to instigate a further period of review.

 Where an improvement to below the appropriate University trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated in the past, but a further related deterioration in absence is identified, or where the

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absence remains above the trigger levels the line manager may use their discretion to refer directly to Stage 3.

 Where evidence does not exist the line manager will issue a Level 2 Caution and progress the matter to Stage 3 - Final Formal.

7.2.3 Stage 3 – Final Formal

Whether or not an underlying medical condition can be established, the steps outlined in Stage 1 - First Formal should be repeated.

At the end of the specified review period the employee’s level of attendance will be assessed by the line manager as follows:

 Where an improvement to below the appropriate University trigger level(s) has been demonstrated, no further action will be taken.

 If a significant improvement has been demonstrated, however, absence levels remain above the University trigger level(s), the line manager will monitor on an informal basis until the employee's absence levels fall below these.

 If within 12 months of the date of issue of the Level 2 Caution the employee’s absence levels deteriorate to a point where they reach one of the triggers, the individual will return to Stage 3 - Final Formal.

 A further report from an Occupational Health Professional or other suitable independent medical professional may be obtained or if the circumstances have not changed then the previous reports that have been obtained may be used.

 Where there has been no improvement the Line Manager will consider whether there are factors relating to the employee’s absence which suggest that the present high level of absence will be temporary. If such evidence exists the line manager will decide whether to instigate a further period of review.

 Where evidence does not exist the line manager will review the case and submit a report to the Head of Department or Division or Dean/Faculty Manager. A copy of the report will also be sent to the employee and HR.

 Where an improvement to below the appropriate University trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated in the past, but a further related deterioration in absence is identified, or where the absence remains above the trigger levels the line manager may use their discretion to refer directly to the Head of Department for review as

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outlined below.

The Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager will initially review the case and may take any of the following actions:

(i) Require the manager to submit further information;

(ii) Require the manager to instigate a further investigation as to what alternative employment can be offered or adjustments can be made to the post to enable the employee to return to work;

(iii) Request HR write to the staff member inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss the case. This meeting will be attended by the Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager, the manager responsible for putting forward the case and the employee and his/her representative and HR.

The Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager will review the case based on a number of factors including, but not exclusively, Occupational Health advice or other medical reports and a workplace review of the role and the impact that the absence has on the delivery of the service. In the case of an Academic member of staff the Dean will also arrange for a further report from an appropriate independent medical practitioner to provide their opinion on the staff member’s condition. The employee will be given the opportunity to make representations in support of why their contract of employment should not be terminated.

The Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager will review the evidence and make a decision on whether to:

 Terminate the contract of employment on the grounds of failing to adequately and consistently carry out the duties of the post and dismiss on the grounds of medical incapability.

 Set a further review period following which the Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager shall make a final decision as to whether the staff member should be dismissed on the grounds of medical incapability.

 Not to dismiss.

Where it is decided to recommend termination of the employee’s contract, the individual will be advised of this decision and the reasons for it at the end

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of the meeting.

The final decision will be taken by the Vice-President, Human Resources on behalf of the University and this will be confirmed in writing.

The individual will be entitled to pay in lieu of the notice period if termination of contract is confirmed.

The employee is entitled to appeal the decision to terminate the contract (see point 8)

If the decision is taken not to discuss and the staff member’s absence levels deteriorate during the 12 month period following the Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager’s meeting with the staff member, the member of staff may be required to return to the third formal stage.

7.3 Long Term Sickness Absence

For the purpose of this policy, long term sickness absence is identified as absence certified as sickness which lasts for more than four weeks.

Where appropriate, please see Appendix B in relation to rehabilitation and Reasonable adjustments.

It is recognised that there are occasions when individuals may need to take a protracted period of absence to recover from more serious health conditions. These types of absences fall into two general categories.

 Long/medium term planned absence to cover health conditions where the length of absence can be predicted (e.g. broken bones or in-patient operative procedures requiring rehabilitation).

 Long/medium term unplanned absence or much more difficult to predict the likely duration of the sickness absence period (e.g. glandular fever, depression etc).

If absence is likely to be protracted, i.e. more than four weeks continuously, there is a shared responsibility for the University and the employee to maintain contact at agreed intervals.

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Employees should be aware of their duty to inform their manager of all possible eventualities at the earliest stage and that whilst a sympathetic, supportive and flexible approach will always be taken when dealing with long term sickness absence, ultimately if the individual is unable to return to work within 1 year and all options have been considered (reasonable adjustments to the existing post, redeployment, ill health retirement etc) then the line manager may need to recommend to Head of Department or Dean/Faculty Manager that the contract of employment be terminated on the grounds of capability. The final decision will be taken by the Vice-President, Human Resources on behalf of the University a meeting will be arranged with the employee and their manager to confirm this decision and this will be confirmed in writing.

7.3.1 Process for managing predictable/planned long term sickness absence

Where an employee has a condition which is recognised by their GP, for which they are likely to need a predictable period of leave, the individual should submit certificates in the normal way and give an indication when, on the advice of their GP or Consultant, they have been advised that they are likely to be able to return to work. This will be noted as the “expected return date”. No action need be taken until one week prior to the expected return date when the employee should notify the manager to confirm either that they will be returning to work as planned or that their absence period is to be extended.

If the sick leave is to be extended, then the employee would normally be referred to Occupational Health for an assessment.

If it then transpires that they require to further extend the period of sickness absence, the management of this employee’s case will automatically transfer to the process of “managing unpredictable sickness absence”, which is outlined below.

7.3.2 Process for managing unpredictable/ongoing long term sickness absence

Where an employee has been absent for four weeks and there is no predictable return date, then the individual should be referred to the Occupational Health Department for assessment. If, upon advice from Occupational Health, the employee is likely to be fit to return to work imminently no further action should be required.

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Managers should review the situation at regular intervals, normally every 8 weeks. The employee will be given first level cautions at this point advising them that the level of their sickness absence cannot be sustained by the organisation in the longer term and that if they are unable to return to work in the given timescale that they may move to the next stage of the procedure and ultimately to termination of the contract on the grounds of capability. Where an early return to work is unlikely, or difficult to predict, further medical guidance will be sought by Occupational Health to enable the appropriate future management of the situation, this may include partial/full ill health retirement if s/he is a member of the USS or SCC LGPS pension scheme. At this stage the employee may be issued with a second level caution advising them that their long term sickness absence has reached a level that cannot be sustained in the organisation and that unless an improvement can be demonstrated within a period advised by the Occupational Health Department and agreed by the manager, or an alternative option can be found (eg. I-IV below), the manager may recommend to Head of Department or Dean/Faculty Manager that the individual be dismissed on the grounds of capability. The final decision will be taken by the Vice-President, Human Resources on behalf of the University and this will be confirmed in writing to the employee.

If the further advice received via Occupational Health, is that the member of staff is likely to remain unfit for an indefinite period, an interview should be arranged with the member of staff to discuss the options available. These options may include the following:

(i) Reasonable adjustments

Instances where the employee is unable to work in their current role under existing conditions but it may be possible to make an alteration to either the job content or environment to make it possible for the individual to work. In order to make an assessment of what adjustments might be needed, Occupational Health will be asked to give advice after they have completed a workplace assessment. Any adjustments advised will be considered and where reasonable will be agreed and actioned. However, it should be noted that adjustments must be

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“reasonably practicable” and there must be an expectation that after the adjustment has been made the individual will be able to return to work. The decision as to whether the adjustment is reasonable is an employer decision, further to appropriate consultation.

Short term adjustments may be recommended by the employee’s GP on the Statement of Fitness to Work in this instance the employee will be referred to occupational health for advice (Please see Appendix D).

(ii) Redeployment

Instances where the employee is unable to work in their current role and no adjustments can be made to the post. In this circumstance it may be possible for the individual to undertake alternative work within the organisation. Occupational Health advice will be sought as to what would constitute suitable alternative employment. On this advice the employee, with the assistance of the HR representative, will consider what vacant posts within the University might be considered as suitable.

(iii) Ill Health Retirement

An employee may wish to retire on grounds of ill health. An application will need to be made through the appropriate channels for example the appropriate pension scheme (USS or SCC LGPS) (should certain criteria be met) and/or Occupational Health. It may not be necessary therefore, to discuss redeployment options which may be available or to have a formal hearing to dismiss. In such cases, Human Resources shall arrange to meet the employee with his/her representative to confirm the employee’s decision and to discuss what action is necessary, including looking at other options (ie. Reintegration, redeployment, termination of employment ).

(iv) Dismissal on the grounds of capability

Dismissal will be considered where the Occupational Health Physician has advised the line manager/HR that the individual is unlikely to return to work within a reasonable period of time, no reasonable re-adjustments can be made to the post, redeployment is not possible and the individual does not wish to or is unable to take early retirement/ill health retirement. The line manager will advise the employee that they will be writing a report for submission to the Head of Department or

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Dean/Faculty Manager recommending that the individual’s contract of employment be terminated on the grounds of capability. In the case of an Academic member of staff the Dean will also arrange for a further report from an appropriate independent medical practitioner to provide their opinion on the staff member’s condition. A copy of the report will also be sent to the employee and HR.

The Head of Department or Dean/Faculty Manager will initially review the case and may take any of the following actions:

 Require the manager to submit further information;

 Require the manager to instigate a further investigation as to what alternative employment can be offered or adjustments can be made to the post to enable the employee to return to work;

 Request HR write to the employee inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss the case. This meeting will be attended by the Head of Department or Dean/Faculty Manager, the manager responsible for putting forward the case and the employee and his/her representative.

The case will be reviewed and the employee will be given the opportunity to make representations in support of why their contract of employment should not be terminated.

The Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager will review the evidence and make a decision on whether to:

 Terminate the contract of employment on the grounds of failing to adequately and consistently carry out the duties of the post and dismiss on the grounds of medical incapability.

 Set a further review period following which the Head of Department/Division or Dean/Faculty Manager shall make a final decision as to whether the staff member should be dismissed on the grounds of medical incapability.

 Not to dismiss.

The final decision will be taken by the Vice-President, Human Resources on behalf of the University.

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Where it is recommended that the employee’s contract be terminated, the individual will be advised of this decision and the reasons for it at the end of the meeting. The individual will be entitled to pay in lieu of the notice period.

The employee is entitled to appeal the decision to terminate the contract (see Section 8)

(v) Terminal Illness

Where terminal illness has been confirmed, no further formal action under this procedure is appropriate. Such cases will always be dealt with sympathetically and every possible support will be given to the employee, particularly in respect of pay and pension arrangements.

8. APPEALS

There is no right of appeal against the outcome of the informal stage of this procedure.

If the employee wishes to appeal any of the outcomes made at any formal stage of the Sickness Procedure they should appeal to the Vice-President Human Resources in writing, within 10 working days of receiving the written decision, stating the grounds for appeal.

An Appeal Hearing may or may not be a re-hearing of the case depending on the circumstances of the case. The employee must be specific about the grounds of appeal; these will effectively form the agenda for the hearing. Appeals may only be raised on the grounds of:

 Procedure - a failure to follow procedure had a material effect on the decision;

 Decision - the evidence did not support the conclusion reached or is inconsistent with other decisions within the University.

 New evidence - which has genuinely come to light since the first hearing. Where new evidence is raised, further investigations may need to be carried out which may require the Appeal Hearing to be delayed pending the outcome of these investigations and to give the employee an opportunity to consider any new information obtained.

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The Vice-President Human Resources, or their designated representative, will arrange a meeting of the Appeals Committee at the earliest convenient date. This should normally be within one month after the matter has been formally raised with the Vice-President Human Resources.

The Vice-President Human Resources, or designated representative, will establish the Appeals Committee which should comprise:

Appeals against Stage 1 of the process:

 As Chair, a senior manager independent from the case;  An HR representative

Appeals against Stage 2 or Stage 3 of the process (including dismissal for non-academic staff):

 As Chair, a senior manager independent from the case;  One other senior manager independent from the case.  An HR representative

Appeals against dismissal (Academic Staff only)

The process for appealing against dismissal for academic staff is set out in Ordinance 11A.5.11 and is set out below:

 As Chair a Dean of another Faculty or a member of Executive Board  A Human Resources representative

Senior managers are defined as staff at Grade 6 level or above.

The individual raising the appeal will be informed of the composition of the Appeal Committee. Should they have any concerns these should be raised with the Vice-President Human Resources who will consider the employee’s concerns and may reconstitute an agreed panel.

The Appeals Committee will invite the employee in writing to attend an appeal meeting, informing the employee of the entitlement to be accompanied by a colleague or recognised trade union representative.

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The decision of the Appeals Committee shall: a) confirm the original decision;

b) revoke the original decision; or c) substitute a different decision.

The decision of the Appeal committee shall be final and there shall be no further right of appeal.

9. GRIEVANCES

In cases where the employee raises a grievance against the actions of the University in relation to his/her sickness, the grievance procedure will not normally be available to the employee whilst the sickness procedure is being considered, unless it is agreed there are grounds for hearing the grievance first. Due consideration will be given as to whether in these particular circumstances the grievance should be dealt with before proceeding with the sickness procedure and/or whether another line manager of equivalent grade should deal with it. Any penalty from the sickness procedure will not be decided upon until the grievance has been heard.

10. OTHER PROCEDURES

As well as having regard to the provisions of the Equality Act, the University has other policies and procedures that may need to be referred to when action is contemplated under this policy. These include:

 Capability Policy

 Substance Misuse Policy

 Dignity at Work and Study Policy  Managing work related Stress Policy  Health and Safety Policy

11. Confidentiality

All information relating to the disciplinary case will be treated confidentially and maintained in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Information relating to the complaint will be shared with only those who have a legitimate requirement to see the documentation as part of resolution to the disciplinary or any consequent procedure.

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It is expected that all parties will be sensitive to the nature of such proceedings, including matters discussed and any evidence provided. Breach of confidence, on either side, may compromise the integrity of the procedure and may be subject to disciplinary action. This does not preclude individuals from seeking appropriate advice, support and information in relation to the case.

Where the University continues to investigate any matter as a duty of care or a legislative requirement then it may be necessary to share the information with appropriate external authorities.

12. Rearranging Hearings

If the employee or his/her representative cannot attend at the time specified for a hearing, the employee must inform his/her line manager and/or HR immediately and an alternative time will be arranged. The employee must make every effort to attend a hearing and failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If the employee fails to attend without good reason, or persistently is unable to attend, the hearing may be heard in his/her absence on the available evidence.

13. Right to be Accompanied

The employee must tell their line manager who they have chosen to act as his/her representative in good time before the hearing. The employee may be required to choose an alternative if the chosen representative is unavailable for the scheduled hearing and will not be available for more than five working days after the scheduled date of the hearing.

The representative may make representations, and sum up the employee’s case but is not allowed to answer questions on the employee’s behalf.

Employees do not normally have the right to bring a representative to an investigative interview, although such requests will be considered provided that timescales for the meetings are not affected.

There is no requirement on a work colleague to accept a request to accompany an employee.

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14. OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION Centre for Wellbeing

It could be that staff who are away form the workplace on long term sickness require the use of the University Centre for Wellbeing. The Centre for Wellbeing is located in University Court, situated between the Duke of Kent building and the Health Centre. The service is free, confidential and open to all University staff. Counsellors are available throughout semesters and vacations between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday; some evening appointments are also available. Contact details: 01483 689498 (internal ext 9498) Fax: 01483 689499 or e-mail centreforwellbeing@surrey.ac.uk

Access to Work

Access to Work (AtW) is available to help overcome the problems resulting from disability. It offers practical advice and help in a flexible way that can be tailored to suit the needs of a an employee in a particular job. AtW does not, however, replace the normal responsibilities of the employer to implement Health and Safety regulations or replace the responsibilities required by the Equality Act. Staff who require the service of AtW must do so through their respective HR department.

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APPENDIX A

Occupational Health Referrals

 Referral to Occupational Health shall be used positively to assist the employee in returning to work and in providing managers/HR with information on the likelihood of further absence or potential date of return to work. HR are responsible for processing all medical referrals and dealing with the medical report received from Occupational Health.

 The Line Manager or HR Representative will complete an Occupational Health Referral Form, which will be passed to the employee to be signed and agreed before being sent to Occupational Health. HR will provide Occupational Health with detailed information regarding the employee’s absence history and reasons, including a copy of the employee's Job Purpose and any other relevant information that may assist in making an accurate medical assessment of the employee. A copy must be sent to the employee.

 Occupational health, having received the employee’s consent, may need to obtain medical reports from a GP/Consultant if appropriate. These are not dealt with at University level.

 Occupational Health will send a copy of the report to the employee, HR and the referring manager. The Occupational Health report will include information on:

- The prospect of the employee fully returning to work - An indication of timescales

- Any special needs/adjustments the employee may have as a result of the illness/injury, with an indication of timescales.

- The employee’s ability to continue in their current or any other occupation.

 If an employee is willing to return to work before the end of the period covered by sickness certificate they will be referred to Occupational Health before it is agreed they can return to work.

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APPENDIX B

Rehabilitation and Reasonable Adjustments

The term ‘rehabilitation’ is used to describe not only treatment and therapy for injuries and illnesses, but also adaptations to work and the workplace to allow workers to be retained, or to provide work opportunities for sick or people with disabilities.

The University will positively consider rehabilitation and the use of any reasonable adjustments that may be appropriate as advised by Occupational Health or by the employee’s General Practitioner or Consultant on the Statement of Fitness to Work. Regular reviews with the employee will take place through Occupational Health as required. This may include but not exclusively:

I. Phased return to work

This could include the phased increase of working hours to full time or phased increase of working duties or responsibilities (to full duties). This can be offered on full pay for a maximum of 6 weeks and should be reviewed both before and after the return to full work by Occupational Health. An employee whose phased return to work extends beyond the 6 week period will receive pay pro rata to the hours actually worked.

The University limits the number of periods of phased returns to one in a rolling 12 month period although it has the discretion to increase this and will seek input from Occupational Health before making a decision.

II. Change of tasks or work content

This could include alternative work, restricted duties or ceasing shift work. The programme should last a maximum of 6 weeks and should be reviewed weekly by the line manager.

III. Change in working hours

This could involve reduced or different hours dependent on the situation for a maximum of 6 weeks on full pay. The case would be reviewed by Occupational Health before and after return to full work and the option of continued part time working with pro-rata pay would be considered after the 6 week period on the advice of Occupational Health.

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IV. Reasonable adjustments to working conditions

Reasonable adjustments to tools/equipment (e.g. machines, chairs, computers, telephone equipment etc) or the workplace (e.g. access, lighting, temperatures etc) should be considered on the advice of Occupational Health. If appropriate, HR should consider available options under the AtW scheme.

V. Redeployment

In cases where the employee is unable to continue in their current post by reason of illness or disability, redeployment to a new job may be an option. An employee seeking such redeployment will be guaranteed an interview for a job as long as they meet the minimum essential criteria of the person specification.

Redeployment to exactly the same type of job cannot be guaranteed but the University will attempt to redeploy staff to a similar job. This will probably be in the same job family.

Any arrangements for redeployment must be agreed with the employee. The relevant HR Representative will discuss continued employment options with the line manager and the employee.

If the employee wishes to pursue redeployment and/or retraining on account of medical/health reasons, Human Resources shall assess the employee against the essential requirements for any suitable vacant posts at the same grade or lower than the employee's substantive post. Posts at a higher grade would have to be applied for in competition.

The types of posts to be considered for redeployment would have to be deemed medically suitable for the employee by Occupational Health. While the employee is awaiting redeployment they will normally remain on sick leave and be paid the appropriate rate of sick pay. Any successful appointment would be subject to a trial period of 6 weeks. The employee will not be entitled to pay protection.

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alternative post or the trial period is unsuccessful and the employee does not wish to terminate his or her employment voluntarily, a formal hearing will be required. The purpose of this hearing would be to formally recommend dismissing the employee.

Disability

When Occupational Health advice indicates that an employee has a disability as defined in Equality Act 2010, the line manager should focus on what the employee can do and must consider making reasonable adjustments to the job, working conditions, working arrangements and/or the physical environment so as to not to disadvantage that employee in working for the University. If the impairment ceases, it may recur in some cases and, therefore, any adjustments should not be changed without medical advice.

Pregnancy

It is unlawful to discriminate against an employee for pregnancy or maternity reasons. Managers should undertake a risk assessment for women who are pregnant at work and, if necessary, should seek advice from Occupational Health or HR about any alterations to their work or support, which they may need during this time.

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APPENDIX C – OCCUPATIONAL SICK PAY ENTITLEMENT

Within any span of 52 weeks, sick pay allowances vary according to the length of continuous service as follows:

Length of Service Full Pay Half Pay

First three months’ service 2 weeks 2 weeks

First Year (after three months’ service) 8 weeks 8 weeks

Second and third years 13 weeks 13 weeks

Fourth and fifth years 21 weeks 21 weeks

After five years’ service 26 weeks 26 weeks

Notes:

 One week is defined as 5 working days for the purpose of this Scheme.

 The University may, at its discretion, extend the period of allowance in an individual case if the circumstances justify this. It will normally disregard absence due to illness which has been certified by the Consultant Occupational Physician as due to or arising from employment within the University.

 Pension contributions may be maintained during a period of sickness absence, this will be dependent on the pension scheme rules. For further information please contact the Pensions Department.

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Appendix D

Statement of Fitness to Work (the ‘Fit Note’)

For all sickness absence either a self certificate or a statement of fitness to work must be provided.

A statement of fitness to work will cover a period of sickness extending beyond 7 days it will either state:

 Not Fit to Work Or

 Fit to Work with adjustments

i) Not Fit to Work

In cases where an employee is considered not fit to work by their GP they should remain on sick leave. In accordance with the sickness absence policy if this sickness absence is for a period of 4 weeks or more or if the sickness absence is for a mental health illness e.g. depression, anxiety, stress they will be referred to Occupational Health. Advice will be given from OH on how the sickness absence should be managed.

If the sickness absence is for less than 4 weeks the employee will return to work on the expiry of their medical statement. If an employee is required to return to their GP before resuming work this must happens as work place adjustments might be necessary.

An employee may request to return to work before the expiry of the medical statement, in such cases a discussion should take place between the employee and the line manager and a risk assessment made. It is advisable that a representative from Human Resources is present at these discussions.

Advice will be sought from Occupational Health and if appropriate a referral made. If Occupational Health does not consider that the employee should return to work then the employee must stay off work until their medical statement expires and the appropriate sick pay entitlement will apply. Should Occupational Health agree that the employee can return to work then advice provided by OH on how this return should be managed must be followed.

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ii) Fit for Work with Adjustments

In some instances the statement of Fitness to Work may indicate a referral to Occupational Health. In such cases an employee must remain off work and the appropriate sickness pay entitlement will be made until they have been assessed by Occupational Health who will advise the basis on which they may return to work, this could include a phased return or work modifications. Where the employees GP has stated an employee is fit for work with adjustments the employee must inform their manager immediately. A discussion between the employee and the line manager regarding recommendations made by the GP should take place and be properly recorded; in addition a risk assessment should be by the manager with advice from Health Safety Adviser as appropriate.

Following these discussions and consultation with OH and Human Resources (as appropriate) a decision will then be made as to next steps:

NB. In cases where the sickness absence is due to a mental illness or there is a

physical impairment, an Occupational Health referral will be made and the employee must stay off work until the assessment has taken place.

a) Adjustments can be made

Where it is agreed between the line manager and HR that adjustments can be made, HR will write and confirm the arrangements to the employee and the employee can then return to work. Should the employee disagree with the arrangements a referral will be made to Occupational Health and the employee should remain on sickness absence and appropriate sick pay entitlement, pending OH advice.

b) Adjustments cannot be accommodated

In such cases where adjustments cannot be made the employee will remain on sickness absence until the expiry of the statement of fitness to work and will receive the appropriate sick pay entitlement. HR should be consulted on this decision for consistency and they will write to the employee giving reasons.

c) Uncertain whether adjustments can be made

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telephone consultation. In some cases this will be lead to the employee being referred to Occupational Health. On advice from Occupational Health the workplace adjustments may be made or the employee will be advised that they cannot return to work and will remain on sickness absence, in some cases they may recommend a straight return to work.

Any advice received from an Occupational Health Physician will take precedence over advice provided by the employees GP where there is a difference of opinion. An employee has the right to self refer to Occupational Health at any stage of the process.

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References

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