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Sickness Absence

This section will provide you with some quick answers to most queries around the Sickness Absence policy. We recommend that you also read the Sickness Absence guidance which explains the policy in full. We have also created an FAQs specifically for managers.

The policy applies to all employees with the exception of staff on the complement of locally managed schools, for whom the policy adopted by their respective schools will apply.

Employees should contact their line manager by phone in person on the first day of absence, usually before or just at the start of the normal working day. Notification is required as early as possible providing details of reason for absence and the likely duration.

Messages by text and other forms of communication should only be used in emergencies and must be followed up by a telephone call as soon as possible.

It is important that you keep your manager informed about your health and sickness absence in order to ensure the appropriate support is provided to facilitate and plan for your return to work. Also arrangements may need to be put in place to cover your work. The method and regularity of future communication is to be agreed between you and your manager during the initial and subsequent telephone conversations.

Employees are required to provide a copy of the ‘Fit Note’ (Statement of Fitness for Work) from their GP or Hospital from the 8th Calendar day of their absence and must ensure that their notes are provided on a timely regular basis.

No, employees need only provide a copy of the fitness certificate as the original may be required in order to make claims for benefit payments.

You can go back to work at any time, including before the end of the fit note, without going back to see your doctor – even if the doctor has indicated that they need to assess you again. Please discuss with your manager, a suitable risk assessment may need to take place.

No, you do not need to be signed back to work. There is no option on the ‘fit note’ to allow your GP to do this.

Your line manager will conduct a Return to Work Interview following your return from sickness absence. It is an opportunity for discussions to take place, regarding your health and well being, bring you up to date with work and any changes that may have occurred and to make sure you are well enough to return.

The sickness absence policy requires everyone to attend a return to work interview. If the reason for your sickness absence is for a personal medical reason, and your line manager is of a different gender to yourself, it may be possible for you to have the interview with someone of the same gender in your department.

The meeting is an informal discussion to ensure that you are fit to return to work and to determine whether or not any adjustments of a temporary or more permanent nature are required to be made to your "job". Being accompanied to the meeting suggests that you want the discussion to take place on a more formal basis and this is not the intention of the discussion.

Any absence of one day or longer will require a return to work meeting.

You will be asked to attend an ‘Employee Support Meeting if you have had:

  • 3 occasions of absence in a rolling 12 month period
  • 10 days or equivalent to 2 weeks’ absence (4 days for someone who works a 2 day week)
  • If an absence record is beginning to form an unacceptable pattern e.g. absences abutting leave
  • the sickness absence is moving towards a further formal trigger

You will be asked to attend an ‘Employee support Meeting’ to discuss your attendance. The intention of the meeting is to give additional support to employees at an early stage and to provide an opportunity for managers and employees to discuss and explore their concerns.

If an employee has further sickness absences and hits a formal trigger they will be invited to attend the ‘1st Attendance Management Meeting.’ The formal triggers are:

  • 4 occasions of sickness absence in a 12 month rolling period;
  • The equivalent of 3 normal working weeks absence, continuous or otherwise, in a 12 month rolling period;
  • Or any other unacceptable pattern of absence e.g. frequent occasions of absence abutting annual leave or bank holidays.

Once the formal trigger is met the 1st Attendance Management Meeting will be held and the employee’s absence will be reviewed as an ongoing process. If after a review period the employees sickness absence fails to improve then the employee will be invited to attend a 2nd Stage Attendance Management Meeting. Following this meeting and an agreed review period if the employee’s sickness absence fails to improve the 3rd Attendance Management Meeting will be held. At the 3rd Attendance Management Meeting dismissal on health capability may be considered.

If you are requested to attend a formal Attendance Management Meeting you have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a work colleague.

A phased return is designed to facilitate a return to work and is normally based on medical advice. A phased return normally takes place over a period of between one and four weeks and your pay will not normally be affected.

The Sickness Absence Policy and process will be followed. If you are absent for a period of time and there is no prognosis of a return to work then it is possible that you may be incapable of fulfilling your role on the grounds of ill health and you may be dismissed due to ill health capability.

If your absence record is such that you are continuously reaching the trigger points in the policy you could be dismissed from your post as a result of a fair process in line with the Sickness Absence Policy process.

If you inform your manager when you become ill and provide a ‘fit note’ from your GP confirming your sickness during a period of leave, your annual leave may be reimbursed.

Employees continue to accrue leave as normal during paid periods of sickness absence. However, after a period of 4 weeks continuous absence, holiday is accrued at the rate of 28 days per annum including bank holidays.

Yes, the policy provides for this action so long as the procedure outlined within the policy is followed. Both Occupational Sick Pay and Statutory Sick Pay may be stopped if the procedures are not followed.

Where it is not practical for you to meet with your manager due to location difficulties, a telephone conversation may take place, ideally on the first day of return to work. However, there may be occasions when it is just not possible for the discussion to take place on the first day of return.

During a period of sick leave your LGPS benefits will continue to build up as if you were working normally and receiving full pay. You will continue to pay basic LGPS contributions on any pay you receive while you are off sick. If you are on unpaid sick leave, you will not pay any contributions.

Absence due to sickness is pensionable, provided the member is receiving at least half pay. Where a member is in receipt of less than half pay (e.g. nil pay) during a period of sick leave, they do not pay contributions and do not accrue pension benefits. The unpaid sickness period is recorded as ‘excluded’ days for teacher’s pension purposes.

Work related stress and stress-related illnesses are not reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). The Health and Safety Executive website explains:

This is because the causes of stress-related ill health are usually extremely complex and linking conditions to specific types of work activity would be very difficult. This does not mean that stress cannot be raised with the enforcing authorities nor does it mean that a complaint cannot be made which could result in an investigation. While work related stress is not reportable, employers have duties to assess and manage the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities’.

Health and Safety Executive. Stress –Frequently Asked Question. (12 June 2015).

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Page updated: 26/03/2018 09:28:33