Managing Sickness Absence Policy

1. Statement of Principles

1.1 The University is committed to treating staff consistently and in line with good employment practice by promoting the health and well-being of staff, and supporting them through periods of ill health.

1.2 This Policy & Procedure does not override or supplant in any form the provisions of the Charter & Statutes.

1.3 The University will work with appropriate health and other relevant professionals in promoting a healthy working environment; in seeking advice on individual cases; and in monitoring the operation of this Policy and Procedure.

1.4 Any deliberate misuse or abuse of this policy may result in disciplinary action.

1.5 The University will ensure confidentiality at all times in line with legislation and best practice. Any breach of this will be considered serious and be dealt with through the relevant disciplinary procedure.

1.6 All employees will have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague at all stages of the procedure. Information relating to an individual’s absence will be shared with the Trade Union only at the request of the individual.

1.7 The University will ensure compliance with all relevant legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 where applicable, in ensuring that all reasonable adjustments are considered to enable the employee to carry out his/her role on a consistent basis.

2. Categories of Sickness Absence

2.1 There are different categories of sickness absence ranging from:

2.1.1 Self-certificated sickness absence up to and including 7 calendar days;

2.1.2 Sickness absence of 8 calendar days or more supported by a Statement of Fitness for Work;

2.1.3 Unreasonable or unexplained absence;

2.1.4 Persistent or irregular absenteeism.

3. Policy

3.1 The University’s objective is to encourage maximum attendance at work by employees, while also providing reasonable support to employees absent for legitimate reasons. In order to achieve this objective this document sets out the policy and procedures for recording and dealing effectively with absence from work.

3.2 The University undertakes to operate procedures under which sickness absence can be managed in a way that is both non-discriminatory and fair to the person concerned, work colleagues and the relevant Institute/Service Department. The University is committed to addressing matters relating to sickness absence in a fair, confidential, lawful, timely and sensitive manner, and aims to act reasonably at all times, taking account of all the circumstances of the case.

3.3 The University encourages staff to remain in regular communication with their line-manager or Human Resources representative throughout the period of absence.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Senior Managers are responsible for ensuring:

4.1.1 The engagement of management at all levels in recognising the importance of managing sickness absence in accordance with this policy and procedure;

4.1.2 That the strategy is driven via collective responsibility at Senior Management level. However, the Human Resources Director has a particular responsibility to monitor delivery and alert the University Executive Group to any concerns;

4.1.3 That a watching brief is kept of any factors that may be revealed as underlying reasons for absence.

4.2 Line-Managers are responsible for:

4.2.1 Ensuring that they are fully familiar with the policy and procedure;

4.2.2 Ensuring that all sickness absence is recorded and reported to HR;

4.2.3 Conducting return to work interviews with individuals on their return to work promptly;

4.2.4 Ensuring staff are aware of the policy;

4.2.5 Being aware of individuals’ absence records and ensuring that persistent absence is dealt with speedily, effectively and consistently in accordance with the Managing Sickness Absence Policy and the associated Procedure;

4.2.6 Seeking further guidance form HR where appropriate;

4.2.7 Ensuring that communication between line managers and employees is maintained at all times;

4.2.8 Ensuring that at all stages of the procedure the appropriate Institute Director/Head of Service Department or section is kept informed of developments;

4.2.9 Monitoring absence and ensuring that this Policy is implemented within his/her section or institute/service department;

4.2.10 Taking appropriate preventative measures to reduce sickness absence.

4.3 The Human Resources Department is responsible for:

4.3.1 Ensuring that awareness is raised amongst staff of the policy and the procedure;

4.3.2 The design and development of appropriate training and monitoring systems for the operation of this policy and procedure;

4.3.3 Providing advice, guidance and support to line managers to support the implementation of the Policy and Procedure;

4.3.4 Providing confidential advice and information to individuals who require guidance or advice in relation to the policy;

4.3.5 Communicating and signposting all mechanisms for accessing support, including counselling and Occupational Health Referrals;

4.3.6 Ensuring that all information relating to individuals is confidential and lawfully processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

4.4 All Employees are responsible for:

4.4.1 Ensuring that they are familiar with the content of this policy and its procedures and that they behave in accordance with this policy;

4.4.2 Taking all reasonable steps to minimise the length of any sickness absence, in accordance with medical advice;

4.4.3 Co-operating with reasonable requests and complying with the requirements of this policy. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action and possible withdrawal of Occupational Sick Pay. However, this will not effect an employee’s entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay.

4.4.4 Reporting absences promptly in accordance with the procedure and participating fully in return to work interviews;

4.4.5 Ensuring that no other employment is undertaken whilst claiming sick pay;

4.4.6 Keep in regular contact with line-manger or HR representative during their period of sickness absence.

5. Training & Awareness

5.1 Training will be provided in this policy and procedure on sickness absence management for all managers to ensure that there is a consistent approach and standard throughout the University. Updates will be provided given changes in law and case-law, where appropriate.

6. Monitoring

6.1 The Human Resources Department will maintain computer records, based on information received from line managers, indicating the duration and stated reasons for all periods of absence. The information will be used to monitor absence levels, and to indicate where further action may be needed.

6.2 Reports on absence information and trends will be supplied to the Professional Development and Staffing Committee and the recognised Trade Unions.

7. Policy Review

7.1 This Policy and Procedure will be reviewed at intervals of not less than two years, unless to comply with statutory changes or important case-law. All reviews will include consultation with the recognised campus Trade Unions.

7.2 The University is committed to embedding the Single Equality Scheme into its policies, procedures and practices. This policy has been equality impact assessed in accordance with this scheme.