Managing Sickness Absence Policy

 1.1 It is the University’s policy to encourage and ensure the regular attendance at work of all its employees and to institute fair, effective and consistent arrangements for dealing with absences and by promoting the health and well-being of staff.

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

1.3 The University recognises the importance of its responsibility to manage sickness absence and will do so via procedures which incorporate mechanisms to monitor individual attendance levels and where appropriate reduce high levels of sickness absence through proactive management strategies.

1.4 The University also recognises that employee’s form it’s most valuable resource and therefore strives to be a supportive employer and will encourage and develop initiatives to promote the health and well-being of its employees.

1.5 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.
1.6 Concern and understanding will be shown to those employees who genuinely need to be absent and support will be offered during periods of ill health. However, it is recognised that this must be balanced with a need to ensure that the University’s needs are also met. Any deliberate misuse or abuse of this policy may result in disciplinary action as it recognises that this practice has a detrimental impact on colleagues and the delivery of services.

1.7 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.

1.8 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.

1.9 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. Aims
2.1 Through application of this policy and procedure the University aims to:-

• Provide support to those employees who are unable to work through ill health;
• Ensure a fair and consistent approach to absence which applies to all employees;
• Maximise attendance by keeping all absences to a minimum and to achieve and maintain set target levels;
• Minimise disruption to operational services and the burden placed upon employees required to cover for colleagues' absences;
• Reduce the direct staffing replacement costs and the efficiency costs associated with sickness absence;
• Deal with short term absence through the application of the triggers outlined in Section 8.5 of the Procedure;
• Deal with long term absence (i.e. a period of 4 or more weeks of consecutive absence) through Section 9 of the Procedure.

2.2 A certain level of absence is unavoidable and this should be recognised. However, it is possible to reduce sickness absence levels through positive measures and an overall management approach.

2.3 In the majority of cases, with proper medical intervention and support an employee's health will improve sufficiently to enable them to return to full health and duties. The objective of balancing time for health improvements with work needs will have to be met. Where the balance proves impossible to achieve, action will be taken in accordance with the procedure.

2.4 Each sickness absence case must be judged on its merits.

2.5 Whilst it is recognised that the individual circumstances of each case must be considered with understanding the importance of the operational effect of the employee's absence must be taken into account.

2.6 This policy and procedure is designed to deal with genuine problems of absence due to unacceptable sickness levels. Where, following investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that absence is not for genuine sickness reasons the normal disciplinary procedures will apply.

2.7 Appeals against decisions taken under this policy will be dealt with under the University’s Employee Appeals Procedure)

3. Policy & Legal requirements

3.1 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 Faculty/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.
3.2 An employer has a legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of its employees. Sickness absence is viewed as an issue concerning capability and dismissal on the grounds of capability is potentially a fair reason for dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
3.3 Employees have a statutory right under the Employment Relations Act 1999 to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union official where they are required to attend formal disciplinary hearings. (See Section 21 "Other Relevant Documents & Procedures" – Disciplinary Policy and Procedure).

3.4 Employers must not unfairly discriminate on the grounds of any protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

3.5 Under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 an employer must obtain the employee's written consent before applying for a medical report from a doctor who has been responsible for the employee's physical or mental health care. The employee has the right to see the report before it is sent to the University’s Occupational Health Adviser. Employees must be made aware of these rights. The Act does not, however, apply to internal pre-employment screening.

3.6 Under the Employment Rights Act 1996 it is unlawful to make deductions of wages at source unless the law or contract so provides, or unless the employee specifically sanctioned it. An exception to this, which is relevant to this procedure, is overpayment of wages which would include sick pay.