Managing ill-health and sickness absence

If you are sick

Departmental reporting arrangements

The steps below are the minimum requirements of the University. Departments may have more specific reporting procedures (eg a requirement to contact a specific person, or to make contact before the start of your shift/working day).

You should ensure that you are aware of and follow any reporting procedures your department has in place.

If you are unwell and cannot come to work

  • Speak to your manager or nominated departmental contact by telephone within half an hour of your expected start time. Only in exceptional circumstances should someone else call on your behalf
  • If you cannot telephone, or are unable to speak to your manager/contact, some form of contact should be made with your department. A text message is not an acceptable form of notification unless this has been expressly agreed previously
  • Make your manager/contact aware of your condition so that they can record the reason for absence on the sickness absence notification form [pdf] and agree when you will next be in touch
  • If your absence lasts for four or more calendar days you need to complete a sickness self-certification form [pdf]. This must be sent to Payroll
  • If your absence is for eight or more calendar days you must see a doctor to get a Statement of Fitness for Work (Fit Note)
  • Post your Fit Note to your manager, marked ‘Addressee only’ or hand it to them personally if you are meeting with them
  • If you are still ill at the end of the period on the Fit Note, you must see your doctor again and if necessary get a further Fit Note. If you are ready to return to work during or at the end of the period specified on your Fit Note you don't need to return to your doctor
  • When you return to work make sure that you have a Return to Work discussion with your manager

If your employee is sick

Recording the absence

  1. When an employee who is sick contacts you, begin completing a sickness absence form [pdf]
  2. Maintain contact with the employee where possible
  3. Forward any medical certificates to Payroll:
    • Absences of 7 calendar days or less don't require a Statement of Fitness for Work (or 'Fit Note'). The employee should complete an sickness self-certification form [pdf] on their return to work
    • Absences of 8 calendar days or more require certification by a doctor. Make sure that your employee is aware they need a Fit Note if their absence is going to continue for 8 days or more. They should also complete the sickness self-certification form [pdf] on their return to work

    (All sickness, whether self-certified or covered by a Fit Note, will be accepted as justification for absence. If exceptionally you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a reported sickness absence is not genuine, you should take advice from your HR Adviser or Partner.)

  4. Make sure the employee is listed on your department's weekly absence report for Payroll [doc] and the reason for absence recorded
  5. When the employee returns hold a return to work discussion (see below). Complete the return to work discussion form [pdf]
  6. If an employee returns from sickness absence on a phased basis make sure that the days when they do not work are recorded as sickness absence on your department's absence report for Payroll [doc].

Holding a return to work discussion

An informal return to work discussion should take place with all your employees on their return from sick leave, irrespective of grade or length of sickness absence:

  • in cases of short-term absence this should wherever possible take place on the first day of return
  • in cases of long-term absence the discussion may take place shortly before the date of return to ensure that appropriate temporary adjustments in are in place to support an employee back into the workplace

The purpose of the discussion is to:

  • welcome the employee back, ensuring that they are fit to return to work and give them the opportunity to discuss their current state of health and any issues relating to their welfare
  • provide an opportunity for the employee to raise issues of concern in a confidential manner
  • advise the employee how their work was covered during their absence and brief them on anything that has occurred while they have been absent
  • give the employee the opportunity to indicate if any work-related issues may be impacting on their health and discuss any support they may need
  • where the issue is one of short-term absence, review the employee’s attendance record and inform them of their total amount of absence in the last 12 months. The employee should be told if, at this stage, formal action may be considered if they are absent again, ie if their absence is considered to be frequent (three or more absences totalling ten or more days within 12 months)
  • in cases of long term absence the return to work discussion should include discussion around how the employee will be temporarily supported back to their full duties, or any longer term adjustments needed

The discussion should be recorded on the return to work discussion form [pdf]. This should be retained on the employee’s personal file to inform at any future discussion about their sickness absence.

Managing absence

Occasional short-term sickness absence

What do I need to do? For somebody only absent on an occasional short-term basis all that will usually be required is a brief, routine return to work discussion with their line manager.

Anything else? This discussion may uncover issues (such as a newly acquired disability or changed personal circumstances) which require addressing, either by the University or the employee. If you need assistance in tackling these issues, contact your HR Adviser.

Frequent short-term sickness absence

Three or more instances of sickness absence amounting to 10 or more days in a twelve month period

Frequent, short-term absences are a particular problem as it is difficult to plan for their impact. The impact can be substantial and have a negative effect on colleagues, students or other service users.

What do I need to do? If an employee frequently has short-term absences you should follow the managing ill health and sickness absence procedure and guidance. There is a point - 3 or more absences totalling 10 or more days - where you should be considering further action in accordance with the procedure and guidance.

Long-term sickness absence

Absences of more than 28 days

Any period of absence from work because of sickness or ill health lasting for four weeks or more is considered as long-term sickness. This includes:

  • long-term absence because of a single illness or disability
  • repeated periods of absence arising from a single illness or disability

What do I need to do? Staff who are absent from work because of a long-term health problem remain the responsibility of their department. If your employee has been - or looks likely to be - absent for 28 days or more then you should be managing the absence according to the procedure and guidance.

Procedure for managing ill health and sickness absence

1. Policy Statement

The University is committed to promoting the health, safety and welfare of its staff: that commitment includes having in place procedures to offer support to those suffering sickness or ill health. This is to enable employees to maintain an acceptable level of attendance, so they can fulfil the conditions of their employment contract.

2. Scope

2.1 This procedure provides a framework for dealing with sickness absence. This includes dealing with frequent short-term sickness absence and long-term sickness absence, caused through ill-health or injury. It is intended to apply when the line manager considers that the employee’s ability to perform their duties is affected by health issues and the level of sickness absence.

2.2 This procedure applies to all employees employed by the University of York under a contract of employment.

3. Aims

The aim of this procedure is to ensure prompt, consistent and fair treatment for all staff, and to enable both the individual and the University to be clear about the expectations of each other in cases involving sickness absence.

4. Principles

The following general principles will apply to the application of this procedure: -

4.1 Confidentiality – All parties involved in these procedures must ensure that they maintain, as appropriate, the confidentiality of the process within and outside the University. Disclosure may be necessary when this is required under law, or where there is a duty of care, e.g. a manager has a concern for the well-being of an employee or others.

4.2 Movement Between Procedures – There may be occasions when, as a consequence of information obtained under one procedure, it is appropriate to use that information to inform or transfer a case to, another procedure.

4.3 Timescales – Every effort will be made to comply with timescales outlined in this procedure. If the complexity or specific circumstances of a case mean timescales need to be extended, then the employee and/or nominated attendee will be advised of the reasons for any delay.

4.4 Attendance at Meetings – If an employee does not attend a meeting convened under this procedure, without good cause, the appropriate manager may make a decision in their absence based on the information available.

4.5 Equality and Diversity - To ensure fair treatment and, where appropriate, provision of support by the University in the application of this procedure, employees should be encouraged to provide information about any equality or diversity issues which may be relevant.

4.6 Disability - In some cases ill-health may be related to a disability or disabilities. Appropriate regard will be given to the Equality Act 2010. In particular, consideration will be given to whether there are reasonable adjustments which could be made to the requirements of a role, workplace, or to other aspects of working arrangements in order to support an employee’s return to work or achieve acceptable levels of attendance.

4.7 Suspension - In certain cases an employee may be suspended from work on medical grounds. Such suspension will be on full pay and shall be reviewed in line with any medical advice received. The decision to suspend will be taken by a Head of Department or Director of a Support Service Department, or a member of the Senior Management Group after consultation with an HR Partner/Adviser.

4.8 Medical Advice – When using this procedure, medical advice may be sought by the line manager via the University’s Occupational Health Service. It will always be sought before considering dismissal, when a physician’s advice will be obtained. The OH service may, if appropriate, also consult the employee’s general practitioner or another specialist consultant. The employee may also provide additional medical information produced by a medical expert which she /he considers to be relevant.

4.9 The University’s contractual terms of employment require an employee to agree to a request to undergo a medical examination by a suitably qualified medical officer, nominated by the University, and to authorise the person responsible for the examination to prepare a medical report for disclosure to, and discussion with the University.

4.10 Where an employee refuses consent for such medical reports to be obtained or disclosed, the relevant manager will make their decision on the appropriate course of action using the information available at the time. The employee should be made aware of the potential implications of refusing consent.

4.11 Right to be accompanied – At all Formal meetings employees have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague.

4.12 In cases involving sickness or ill-health where the employee is unable to attend Formal meetings due to their illness, they may nominate a family member or other person appropriately connected with their affairs (nominated attendee) to attend and act in their place. If an employee is incapable of nominating an attendee, the Director of HR may nominate another person on their behalf. The nominated attendee may then choose to be represented at the meeting by a trade union representative or work colleague of the employee.

4.13 Involvement of Human Resources – A member of the human resources team should be consulted for advice at all stages of the formal process.

4.14 Retirement on health grounds – The use of this procedure does not imply that the relevant pension scheme will accept an application for the employee to receive a pension on health grounds. Any decision to dismiss on grounds of incapacity due to sickness/ill-health is separate from any application or decision to award an ill-health pension.

4.15 Dismissal – In the event that the circumstances of a case lead the manager to contemplate the termination of the contract of an employee on grounds of incapacity due to ill-health, this will be carried out in accordance with Section 9 of this Procedure.

4.16 Appeals against dismissal - The employee has the right of appeal against a decision to terminate his/her employment under this procedure. Any dismissal will remain in force pending the outcome of any appeal.

5. Sickness Absence Definitions

For the purposes of this procedure sickness absence is defined as follows:-

5.1 Frequent Short-term Sickness Absence

5.1.1 Frequent short-term sickness absence is defined as three or more instances of sickness absence (or a continuous period(s) of absence) amounting to 10 or more days (pro-rata for part time employees) within a 12 month rolling period.

5.1.2 Frequent short term sickness absence involves patterns of absence due to illnesses that are usually not connected. Such patterns could be, but are not limited to:

  • a number of single days of sickness absence
  • a mixture of individual days and longer periods of sickness absence.

5.2 Long-term Sickness Absence

Any period of absence from work because of sickness or ill health lasting more than four weeks (28 days, or pro-rata for part time employees) will be deemed as long-term sickness. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Long-term absence because of a single illness or disability;
  • Repeated periods of absence arising from a single illness or disability.

6. Sickness Absence Procedure

6.1 Frequent Short Term Sickness Absence

Where managers identify concerns in terms of attendance at work as a result of short-term and frequent sickness absence they should seek to address this at the earliest opportunity. Concerns relating to sickness absence should be resolved informally where possible, by providing appropriate support to enable the employee to attend work on a consistent basis. Prior to any meetings being held the manager should ensure that they have full and accurate details relating to the periods of absence under review.

6.2 Informal Meeting

6.2.1 The informal approach is aimed at bringing concerns to the attention of the employee, exploring causes, identifying responsibilities and agreeing actions to be taken.

6.2.2 Where there are concerns about an employee’s sickness absence/level of attendance, their manager will meet with them to reflect those concerns and explore ways of addressing them. There is no right to Trade Union representation at an informal meeting. The employee will be advised of the improvement required and a review period will be set.

6.2.3 Managers should make a note of the details of these informal discussions.

6.2.4 Following improved attendance using the informal procedure, the matter will be considered resolved.

6.2.5 The employee will be made aware that a continuation or further absence may lead to on-going monitoring or moving to the Formal procedure.

6.2.6 Before initiating the Formal procedure, the manager should:

  • Consider whether the employee should be referred to the University’s Occupational Health service to advise whether there is any underlying medical condition that is giving rise to the level of sickness absence; and
  • Seek advice from an HR Partner/Adviser

7. Formal Procedure

7.1 First Formal Meeting - If the attendance targets set at the informal meeting have not been met, the employee will be invited in writing to a Formal Meeting, normally with at least five working days’ notice. The letter inviting the employee to the meeting shall set out the issues to be considered, advise the employee that they may provide a written submission of their case for the meeting, and advise them that they may be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or colleague.

7.2 The meeting will be conducted by the manager, who will outline the level of sickness absence that has led to the meeting and will review the circumstances of the case and the actions taken to date. The manager will consider any written or verbal information presented by the employee

7.3 If, having considered any representations made by the employee the manager determines that the level of attendance is not satisfactory, the employee will be issued with written notice of:-

  • The improvement in attendance required
  • The timescale for improvement
  • Any support to be received
  • The consequence of not meeting the required level of attendance

7.4 The letter confirming the notice of required improvement, and containing the above details will be sent to the employee within five working days.

7.5 A copy of the letter will be retained on the employee's personal file until a satisfactory level of attendance is achieved.

7.6 Second Formal Meeting - If there has been a failure to meet the attendance targets set at the first Formal Meeting, the employee will be invited in writing to a second Formal Meeting, normally with at least five working days’ notice. The letter inviting the employee to the meeting shall set out the issues to be considered, advise the employee that they may provide a written submission of their case for the meeting, and advise them that they may be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or colleague.

7.7 The meeting will be conducted by the manager, who will outline the level of sickness absence that has led to the meeting and will review the circumstances of the case and the actions taken to date. The manager will consider any written or verbal information presented by the employee.

7.8 If, having considered any representations made by the employee the manager determines that the level of attendance is not satisfactory, the employee will be issued with final written notice of required improvement and advised of:-

  • The improvement in attendance required
  • The timescale for improvement
  • Any support to be received
  • The consequence of not meeting the attendance targets i.e. that the employee may be dismissed if no acceptable improvement in attendance is achieved within the given timescale

7.9 The letter confirming the final written notice of improvement required, and containing the details above will be sent to the employee within five working days.

7.10 A copy of the letter will be retained on the employee's personal file until satisfactory levels of attendance are achieved.

7.11 If the attendance Targets set at the second Formal Meeting have not been met then a further final Formal Meeting should be arranged, at which dismissal may be considered. This action is outlined at Section 9 of this procedure.

8. Long Term Sickness Absence

Once a manager is aware that an employee has a state of health that could result in long term sickness absence, the manager should discuss the situation with the employee at the earliest opportunity. The purpose of this initial discussion is to understand the nature of the employee’s condition, to establish what support can be offered and to help and support them to prepare for their return to work. Further meetings may be arranged as required.

8.1 Communication

8.1.1 A key part of the process in managing a person on long-term sickness absence is to ensure that regular contact with the employee is maintained. The timing and nature of that contact will be appropriate to the situation of the member of staff and their medical condition and may be in the form of email, telephone, letter or personal visits

8.1.2 The purpose of this on-going contact is to consider what support, if any, can be provided to assist the recovery and a return to work, as well as to ensure that the employee is kept updated on any developments in the workplace. It is expected that there should be contact at regular intervals, but these intervals may vary depending on the nature of the illness and to the individual circumstances of staff who are absent from work.

8.2 Informal action

8.2.1 When a manager has concerns about a period of long term sickness absence or an employee’s long-term health condition, or when absence exceeds 28 days (pro-rata for part time staff), they should discuss this with the relevant HR Partner/Adviser. If it is agreed that it is appropriate to meet with the employee then the manager should invite them to attend an informal meeting. There is no right to have a TU representative or colleague present at informal meetings.

8.2.2 The purpose of the informal meeting is to consider the period of absence under review; the nature of the employee’s illness; and the potential implications of this for their return to work (i.e. the potential length of the absence and any longer-term impact of their condition); whether an occupational health referral is appropriate, what mechanisms are in place to support the employee during their absence, and any support that will help them prepare for their return.

8.3 Formal Action

8.3.1 If during a period of long term sickness it becomes clear that a return to work within a reasonable time frame is unlikely, then the manager should arrange a Formal meeting.

8.3.2 The employee must be invited in writing to the Formal Meeting, normally with at least five working days’ notice. The letter inviting the employee to the meeting shall set out the issues to be considered, advise the employee that they may provide a written submission of their case for the meeting, and advise them that they may be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or colleague.

8.3.3 The meeting will be conducted by the manager, who will outline the level of sickness absence that has led to the meeting and will review the circumstances of the case and the actions taken to date. The manager will consider any written submission or verbal information presented by the employee, and will consider if any further support can be reasonably offered to enable the employee to return.

8.3.4 Where the information considered suggests that there is a likelihood of recovery and return to work within a reasonable timeframe, then the outcomes of this first Formal long-term sickness absence meeting may include:

  • Arranging a further informal meeting or meetings to allow a longer period of rehabilitation
  • A provisional date for return to "normal working", (i.e. when the employee will be fit to undertake the same range of duties and responsibilities they had before they went on long-term sickness absence). A phased return to their normal duties will usually be considered.
  • A provisional date for return to their previous role, but with temporary or permanent adjustments in working arrangements, in recognition of the individual’s health condition. Such adjustments will be made in order to ensure compliance with the Equality Act (2010) as well as the University's wider commitments to equality and diversity;
  • Consideration of redeployment to an alternative post which may be at a different grade or different terms and conditions of employment;

8.3.5 The manager will write to the employee after the meeting, summarising the discussion and outlining next steps.

8.3.6 Where the information considered suggests that there is not a likelihood of recovery and return to work within a reasonable timeframe, then Formal meeting should be arranged to consider whether dismissal on the grounds of capability/incapacity because of ill health is appropriate. (Please refer to Section 9 of this Procedure).

8.3.7 The manager will write to the employee after the meeting, summarising the discussion and outlining next steps. This will include advising the employee that termination of their contract of employment may be considered at a Final Formal Meeting, if this is to be arranged.

9. Final Formal Meeting (Dismissal)

9.1 The paragraphs under this section (9) will apply when:

  • Frequent Short Term sickness absence: the attendance targets set at the second Formal Meeting have not been met, or
  • Long Term Sickness Absence: if a Formal meeting under the long term absence procedure has established that the long term issues of incapacity appear unlikely to be resolved.

9.2 The employee shall be invited in writing to a Final Formal Meeting, which will take the form of a Hearing and will be conducted by the Head of Department or other Senior Manager. An HR Partner/Adviser must also be present.

9.3 The letter inviting the employee to the meeting shall:

  • give ten days’ notice of the meeting,
  • advise the employee of their right to be accompanied by a TU rep or a work colleague,
  • set out the issues to be considered,
  • invite the employee to provide a written submission of their case at least five days prior to the meeting,
  • Advise that a possible outcome of the meeting is termination of their contract of employment.

9.4 The employee will be provided with copies of all papers that will be considered at least five days prior to the meeting.

9.5 At the meeting, the employee’s manager will outline the level of sickness absence that has led to the meeting and will review the circumstances of the case and the actions taken to date. The employee will be given the opportunity to state their case and raise any factors they wish to have considered.

9.6 The Head of Department conducting and hearing the case will be able to question those involved in the case and will consider all representations before reaching a decision. The decision may include (but will not be limited to) the following outcomes:

  • That there are insufficient grounds to terminate the employee’s contract under this procedure and that further consideration should be given to the possibility of making reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to continue in employment. This may include allowing a longer period for improvement in attendance or recovery.
  • That matters should be considered under an alternative procedure.
  • That consideration might be given to redeployment to an alternative role, within a reasonable timescale (usually one month).
  • That where supported by medical evidence, consideration might be given to supporting ill health retirement, where the employee has submitted an application for ill health retirement to the relevant pension scheme.
  • That the employee’s employment should be terminated with appropriate notice or pay in lieu of notice

9.7 The decision may be given verbally at the hearing and will in any event be conveyed or confirmed in writing normally within five working days of the hearing. In the event that the decision is taken to dismiss the employee, the letter shall also notify the employee and/or any nominated attendee of the employee’s right to appeal against that decision. The correspondence will include the date that their employment will terminate, together with details of any notice arrangements and payment for any outstanding annual leave.

10. Appeals against dismissal

10.1 The employee has the right of appeal against a decision to terminate his/her employment under this procedure. Any appeal should be sent in writing to the Director of HR within ten working days of the employee receiving the written decision to dismiss. The appeal must state the grounds for appeal.

10.2 The appeal will be heard by an appeal panel consisting of three senior managers of the University appointed by the Vice-Chancellor and will include academic representation where appropriate. The appeal panel will have had no prior involvement with the case and the appeal hearing will be a review of the decision to dismiss.

10.3 The decision may be given verbally at the appeal hearing and will in any event be conveyed or confirmed in writing within ten working days of the hearing.

10.4 The decision following the appeal shall be final and there will be no further internal right of appeal.

Further details

Approval - Policies Development Group

Monitoring: This procedure will be reviewed periodically to ensure compliance with changes in employment law and equality and diversity legislation.

Review by 2018

Related Documents - Guidelines and template letters are available and should be referred to in the application of this procedure.

Document Control

Title:
Procedure for Managing Ill Health and Sickness Absence
Applicable to:
All Staff
Date of issue:
January 2014
Procedure Owner:
Human Resources

Guidance

Section one – Reporting and recording sick absence

3. Reporting sickness absence

3.1 All employees have a contractual obligation to notify the University if they cannot attend work because they are sick. Employees should report their absence as follows:

3.2 First day of absence: employees must notify their line manager as soon as possible that they are unable to come to work and also indicate the nature of their illness and the likely date of their return to work.

3.3 If a Department or section has more detailed reporting arrangements, e.g. if employees are required to contact a specific person, or make contact before the start of their shift or working day, then the employee should ensure they follow their Department’s reporting procedures.

3.4 Contact should be normally be made with the employees’ line manager/nominated Departmental contact, within half an hour of their expected start of work. They should always aim to speak to their manager/nominated Departmental contact themselves: contact via a third person is not acceptable unless there are exceptional circumstances. Where it is not possible to telephone, or speak directly to the employee’s manager/nominated Departmental contact, it is still important that some form of contact is made with the department. A phone text is not an acceptable notification unless the express permission from the manager has been given for this.

3.5 The manager should record the absence on a sick absence notification form [pdf] and include the absence on the Department’s report for payroll.

3.6 Fourth day of absence: If an employee has been sick for four or more consecutive days they should complete form SC2, which is a claim for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). HMRC form SC2. The form should be submitted to payroll office. (In some circumstances an employee may not be entitled to SSP: e.g. because their average weekly earnings are below the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions: see gov.uk guidance for employees for further information).

3.7 Eighth day of absence onwards: If an employee’s sick absence extends to eight calendar days or longer, they should get a fit note (form MED3) from their Doctor/GP (or form MED10 if they are in hospital). These must be submitted to their manager as soon as possible, who will send them on to payroll office.

3.8 It is an employee’s responsibility to ensure they promptly supply the required information and / or fit notes for their absence if they wish to receive SSP and/or the University’s Occupational Sick Pay. If an employee does not supply this they may be regarded as absent without leave, and their manager may take action to stop their pay.

4. Return to work

4.1 An employee can return to work when their Fit note expires, and should let their manager know the date they expect to return so that appropriate arrangements can be made for their return. An employee does not usually need to see their Doctor/GP to be signed back to work, (unless the Doctor has indicated on the Fit note that they wish to assess them before their return to work). A manager may also ask an employee to see their Doctor again, before their return, if they are concerned that the employee may not be fit for work.

4.2 An employee may return to work before their Fit note expires if their manager agrees.

4.3 Return to work discussion: An informal return to work discussion, with the line manager, should take place with all employees on their return from sick leave, irrespective of grade or length of sickness absence.

4.4 In cases of short term absence this should wherever possible take place on the first day of return. In cases of long term absence the discussion may take place shortly before the date of return to ensure that appropriate temporary adjustments in are in place to support an employee back into the workplace.

4.5 The discussion should be recorded on the Return to Work Discussion Form [pdf]. This should be retained on the employee’s personal file to inform at any future discussion about their sickness absence.

4.6 Purpose of return to work discussion: The purpose of the discussion is to:

  • Welcome the employee back, ensuring that they are fit to return to work and give them the opportunity to discuss their current state of health and any issues relating to their welfare.
  • Provide an opportunity for the employee to raise issues of concern in a confidential manner.
  • Advise the employee how their work was covered during their absence and brief them on anything that has occurred whilst they have been absent.
  • Give the employee the opportunity to indicate if any work-related issues may be impacting on their health and discuss any support they may need.
  • Where the issue is one of short-term absence, review the employee’s attendance record and inform them of their total amount of absence in the last 12 months. The employee should be told if, at this stage, formal action may be considered if they are absent again i.e. if their absence is considered to be frequent. Further information available at 5. Sickness absence definitions
  • In cases of long term absence the return to work discussion should include discussion around how the employee will be temporarily supported back to their full duties, or any longer term adjustments needed. [enter link to long term sickness action/phased return]

4.7 Recording absence during a phased return to work

If arrangements are put in place for an employee to return to their full work pattern on a phased basis, with work time increasing over a number of weeks, the days /hours when the employee does not work (and would normally work) should be recorded as sickness absence.

Section two: Managing sickness absence

5. Sickness absence definitions

For the purposes of this guidance sickness absence is defined as follows:-

5.1 Long-term sickness absence

Any period of absence from work because of sickness or ill health lasting more than four weeks (28 days, or pro-rata for part time employees) will be deemed as long-term sickness absence. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Long-term absence because of a single illness or disability;
  • Repeated periods of absence arising from a single illness or disability.

5.2 Frequent short-term sickness absence

5.2.1 Frequent short-term sickness absence is defined as three or more instances of sickness absence (or a continuous period(s) of absence) amounting to 10 or more days (pro-rata for part time employees) within a 12 month rolling period.

5.2.2 Frequent short term sickness absence involves patterns of absence due to illnesses that are usually not connected. Such patterns could be, but are not limited to:

  • a number of single days of sickness absence
  • a mixture of individual days and longer periods of sickness absence.

6. Management action (frequent short term sickness absence )

6.1 Where managers identify concerns in terms of attendance at work as a result of short-term and frequent sickness absence they should seek to address this at the earliest opportunity. Sickness absence problems should be resolved informally where possible, by providing appropriate support to enable the employee to attend work on a consistent basis. Prior to any meetings being held the manager should ensure that they have full and accurate details relating to the periods of absence under review.

6.2 Informal meeting

6.2.1 The informal approach is aimed at bringing concerns to the attention of the employee, exploring causes, identifying responsibilities and agreeing actions to be taken in a constructive and supportive manner. There is no right to Trade Union representation at an informal meeting.

6.2.2 Where there are concerns about an employee’s sickness absence/level of attendance, their manager should arrange to meet with them informally to reflect those concerns and explore ways of addressing them. The manager will explain to the employee why an improvement is required and a review period will be set.

6.3 Purpose of the informal meeting

The purpose of the informal Meeting is to:-

  • Ensure the employee is aware of the Procedure and Guidance for Managing Ill Health and Sickness Absence and the University’s responsibility in monitoring and managing short-term absence.
  • Review the employee’s attendance record and bring concerns to their attention; informing them of their total amount of absence in the last 12 months, and if relevant for earlier periods.
  • Ask the employee to identify any discuss any underlying cause for the absence; including raising any work-related issues which may be affecting their health.
  • Provide an opportunity for the employee to confidentially raise other, wider issues of concern which may be affecting their health.
  • Enable the manager to provide assistance, wherever possible, with any problems identified, including if applicable, giving consideration to any reasonable adjustments to the working environment to support the employee to improve their attendance. This may include discussion around whether light or alternative duties could be put in place for a temporary period.
  • Consider if a referral to the Occupational Health Advisor would help identify the support which could be offered.

6.3.1 At the end of the meeting the manager should also:

  • Agree the actions to be taken;
  • Advise the improvement in attendance required, and the timescale for improvement. This will vary according to the individual circumstances of each case, (e.g. the nature of any underlying condition and any supportive adjustments) but would normally be that a continuation or any further absence in the subsequent rolling 12 month period may lead to a period of further monitoring or a formal meeting. The manager may consult the HR Partner /Adviser for guidance on the improvement required.
  • Set a date to informally review progress towards the improvement required;
  • Confirm that, in accordance with University Managing Ill Health and Sickness Absence Procedure, a First Formal Meeting will be considered if attendance does not meet the improvement required.

6.3.2 Managers should make a note of the details of these informal discussions. The Frequent, Short Term Sickness Absence – Informal Meeting Checklist [pdf] is available for this purpose. A copy of the note should also be offered to the employee.

6.4 Subsequent action

6.4.1 If the required improvement in attendance is achieved, the matter will be considered resolved.

6.4.2 If there is further absence and the improvement in attendance set at the informal meeting is not met, the manager should consider moving to formal action. Before initiating formal action, the manager should seek advice from an HR Partner/Advisor

6.5 Formal action (frequent short term sickness absence)

6.5.1 First formal meeting - If formal action is considered appropriate, the employee should be invited in writing to a Formal Meeting, normally with at least five working days’ notice. The letter inviting the employee to the meeting should set out the issues to be considered, and advise the employee that they may provide a written submission of their case for the meeting. It must also advise them that they may be accompanied at the meeting by a Trade Union representative or colleague.

6.5.2 Prior to a formal meeting the manager must ensure that he/she has full and accurate details relating to the employees attendance record. This may include:

  • The dates and reasons for absence covering the full period under review;
  • The details of any self-certification of sickness, return to work interview forms and medical certificates/fit notes covering the period under review;
  • The note of the informal meeting and/or the Informal Meeting Checklist
  • Any Occupational Health reports;
  • All copies of correspondence relating to previous informal and/or formal meetings.

6.5.3 Purpose and conduct of formal meetings: The purpose of the meeting is to:

  • Review the employee’s absence/ill health during the review period, including the amount of their sick absence and any action taken to date;
  • Refer the employee to the informal meeting discussion and ask them to identify any further problems (work related or wider issues) which might be contributing to their level of absence;
  • Explain any advice received the Occupational Health Advisor, and discuss with the employee the advice received;
  • Consider any new/additional information that may be received.
  • Provide further assistance and support, wherever possible, with any problems identified, including, if applicable, giving consideration to any reasonable adjustments to the working environment to support the employee to improve their attendance; This may include discussion around whether light or alternative duties could be put in place for a temporary period.
  • Consider whether a referral (or further referral) to the Occupational Health Advisor, or to another source of support, (e.g. the University’s Employee Assistance Provider) is appropriate.

6.5.4 The meeting will be conducted by the manager who should carefully explain the matters of concern to the employee and their representative, and handle issues sensitively. It is essential that the employee and their representative are given every opportunity to raise any issues they wish to discuss during the course of the meeting. A note should be made of the discussion, if requested a copy of this may be given to the employee.

6.5.5 Outcome of first formal meeting: If, having considered any representations made by the employee, the manager determines that the level of attendance is not satisfactory and needs to be improved, the employee will be issued with written notice of:-

  • The improvement in attendance required, and the timescale for improvement. This will vary according to the individual circumstances of each case, (e.g. the nature of any underlying condition and any supportive adjustments) but would usually be that the employee should have no more than 10 days sickness absence in the subsequent rolling 12 month period. The manager may consult the HR Partner /Adviser for guidance on the improvement required.
  • Any support to be put in place by the manager/received by the employee;
  • The consequence of not meeting the required improved level of attendance i.e. that there may be further formal action and the employee may be invited to a further formal meeting. This would be considered at the point that the absence exceeds the improvement target set.

6.5.6 The letter confirming the notice of required improvement, and containing the above details will be sent to the employee within five working days. A copy of the letter will be retained on the employee’s personal file until the satisfactory level of attendance is achieved.

6.5.7 Second formal meeting –If the required improvement in attendance, set at the first formal meeting has not been met, the manager should consider holding a second formal meeting with the employee. This would be considered at the point that the absence exceeds the improvement target set.

  • If a second formal meeting is considered appropriate, the employee will be given at least five days notice of the meeting in writing. The letter inviting the employee to the meeting shall set out the issues to be considered, advise the employee that they may provide a written submission of their case for the meeting, and advise them that they may be accompanied at the meeting by a Trade Union representative or colleague.

6.5.8 The purpose and conduct of the meeting should follow the guidance for the first formal meeting, (see paragraph 6.5.3) and ensure that any new information is properly considered.

6.5.9 Outcome of second formal meeting: If, having considered any representations made by the employee, the manager determines that the level of attendance is not satisfactory and needs to be improved, the employee will be issued with written notice of:-

  • The improvement in attendance required, and the timescale for improvement. This will vary according to the individual circumstances of each case, (e.g. the nature of any underlying condition and any supportive adjustments) but would usually be that the employee should have no more than 10 days sickness absence in the subsequent rolling 12 month period. The manager may consult the HR Partner /Adviser for guidance on the improvement required;
  • Any support to be put in place by the manager/received by the employee;
  • The consequence of not meeting the required improved level of attendance i.e. a final formal meeting may be held, at which termination of the employee’s contract of employment may be considered, if no acceptable improvement in attendance is achieved within the given timescale. This would be considered at the point that the absence exceeds the improvement target set.

6.5.10 The letter confirming this final written notice of it he improvement required, and containing the details above will be sent to the employee within five working days. A copy of the letter will be retained on the employee’s personal file until the satisfactory levels of attendance are achieved.

6.5.11 If the required improvement in attendance set at the second Formal Meeting has not been met then a further final Formal Meeting should be considered. This would be at the point that the absence exceeds the improvement target set.

This action is outlined at Paragraph 10 of this guidance. It should be noted that termination of the contract of employment (dismissal) is a possible outcome of the final formal meeting.

7. Management action (long term sickness absence)

7.1 Once a manager is aware that an employee has a state of health that could result in long term sickness absence, then the manager should discuss the situation with them at the earliest opportunity. The purpose of this initial discussion is to understand the nature of the employee’s condition, to establish what support can be offered and to help and support them to prepare for their return to work. Further meetings may be arranged as required.

7.2 Communication: A key part of the process in managing a person on long-term sickness absence is to ensure that regular contact with them is maintained. This contact will vary to meet the individual’s circumstances but may be in the form of email, telephone, letter, and visits to the workplace or meetings at a mutually agreeable location.

7.2.1 The purpose of this on-going contact is to consider what support, if any, can be provided to assist the recovery and a return to work, as well as to ensure that the employee is kept updated on any developments in the workplace.

7.3 Informal action

7.3.1 When a manager has concerns about an employee’s period of long term sickness absence, (usually when it is known that the absence is likely to exceed 28 days -pro-rata for part time employees), they should first discuss this with an HR Partner/Advisor.

7.3.2 If it is agreed that it is appropriate to hold an informal meeting with the employee, then the manager should contact the employee and invite them to the meeting. Wherever possible this should be held at the workplace, although it is recognised that other arrangements may be appropriate in some circumstances. The meeting should take the form of an informal discussion (there is no right to have a TU representative or colleague present at informal meetings).

7.3.3 Purpose of the meeting

The purpose of the informal meeting is to discuss/consider

  • The nature of the ill health and the impact of this on the employee’s ability to undertake their role;
  • Provide an opportunity for the employee to confidentially raise work related issues or other, wider issues of concern which may be affecting their health.
  • Any Occupational Health report already received or whether a referral to the Occupational Health Advisor is appropriate;
  • Enable the manager to provide assistance, wherever possible, with any problems identified, including if applicable, giving consideration to any reasonable adjustments to the working environment to support the employee to promote their recovery and/or enable a return to work.
  • The likely date of the employee’s return to work : the employee should be encouraged to discuss a reasonable timeframe for this and should include a discussion about a phased return to work, details are available at 8. Phased return to work
  • Information on the University’s Occupational Sick Pay allowance
  • Information on other sources of support such as the University’s Employee Assistance Scheme http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/employee_assistance/, or if appropriate, advice on Managing any reported workplace stress http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hsas/safetynet/stress/stress.htm, or the University’s Mediation Service https://www.york.ac.uk/staff/support/mediation/
  • Ensure that the employee is aware of the Procedure and Guidance for Managing Ill Health and Sickness Absence and the University’s responsibility in monitoring and managing long term sick absence

7.3.4 At the end of the meeting the manager should also:

  • Agree the actions to be taken to support the employee’s return;
  • Confirm arrangements for further informal meetings to review progress.

7.4 Referral to Occupational Health Advisor - the guidance on making a referral to the Occupational Health Advisor is available on the Occupational Health pages of the HR website http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/occupational-health/. If a referral to Occupational Health is to be made, the manager should explain the information in the referral form and ask the employee to sign it.

7.4.1 Consent for referral withheld :-If a manager is unable to obtain the employee’s agreement to the referral, the manager should remind the employee that this is a contractual condition within their terms and conditions of employment. If the consent is still withheld the manager should explain to the employee that decisions on future action in connection with their sick absence, will be taken on the information available. The form should still be completed and forwarded to Occupational Health, but Occupational Health should be advised that a signature could not be obtained.

7.5 Work related stress: Where an employee (or their Fit Note) indicates they may be suffering from ‘work related stress’ the manager should follow the guidance on the Health and Safety website on "Individual Reports of Work Related Stress http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hsas/safetynet/stress/stress.htm .The employee should also be reminded of the support they may be offered by University’s employee assistance service (CIC) http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/employee_assistance/

7.5.1 Issues raised which relate to an individual’s report of work related stress, may need to be considered as part of any meeting to discuss the employees long term sick absence. These issues may be considered when discussing the supportive measures which may be put in place to help them return to work.

8. Phased return to work

8.1 A phased return to work should be considered following any long term sickness absence. The length of the phased return will vary according to the individual needs of the employee, and should be determined by the manager in discussion with the individual. However, it is not anticipated that a phased return will continue for any longer than 6 weeks. Advice from the University’s Occupational Health service may also inform the arrangement.

8.1.2 The manager should discuss the following with the employee:

  • What hours it is reasonable to begin the return with, and the timescale for phasing back to full contractual hours;
  • Which, if any, duties will be restricted during the phased return;
  • What level of support will be available throughout the phased return;
  • Any other adjustments that need to be considered to support the phased return to work. This may be include considering any advice given by the University’s Occupational Health Advisor
  • Arrangements for payment during this period. See section 3 for details.

8.1.3 Following the meeting the manager should write to the employee to confirm the arrangements, and should meet the employee regularly to review the arrangements in place.

8.1.4 If, at the end of the phased return, the manager or employee has doubt about their ability to return to full working hours or duties, they should consider a further referral to the Occupational Health Advisor, and seek advice from the HR Partner or Advisor.

9. Formal action (long term sickness absence)

If during a period of long term sickness it becomes clear that a return to work within a reasonable time frame is unlikely, then the manager should consult with their HR Partner or Advisor to consider whether a Formal Meeting is necessary.

9.1 First formal meeting - If formal action is considered appropriate, the employee should be invited in writing to a Formal Meeting, normally with at least five working days’ notice. The letter inviting the employee to the meeting should set out the issues to be considered, and advise the employee that they may provide a written submission of their case for the meeting. It must also advise them that they may be accompanied at the meeting by a Trade Union representative or colleague.

9.1.1 If the employee is unable to attend a Formal meeting due to their illness, they may nominate a family member or other person appropriately connected with their affairs (nominated attendee) to attend and act in their place. If the employee is incapable of nominating an attendee, the Director of HR may nominate another person on their behalf. The nominated attendee may then choose to be represented at the meeting by a trade union representative or work colleague of the employee.

9.2 Prior to a formal meeting the manager must ensure that he/she has full and accurate details relating to the employees attendance record. This may include:

  • The dates and reasons for absence covering the full period under review;
  • The details of any medical certificates/fit notes covering the period under review;
  • The note of any informal meetings and/or the Informal Meeting Checklist;
  • Any Occupational Health reports;
  • All copies of correspondence relating to previous informal and/or formal meetings.

9.3 Purpose and conduct of formal meetings

The purpose of the meeting is to:

  • Review the employee’s absence/ill health during the review period, including the amount of their sick absence and any action taken to date;
  • Refer the employee to informal meeting discussion and ask them to identify any further problems (work related or wider issues) which might be contributing to their level of absence;
  • Explain any advice received the Occupational Health Advisor, and discuss with the employee the advice received;
  • Consider any new/additional information that may be received.
  • Provide further assistance and support, wherever possible, with any problems identified, including, if applicable, giving consideration to any reasonable adjustments to the working environment to support the employee to improve their attendance
  • Consider whether a referral (or further referral) to the Occupational Health Advisor, or to another source of support, (e.g. the University’s Employee Assistance Provider. Or the University’s Mediation Service) https://www.york.ac.uk/staff/support/mediation/ is appropriate.

9.3.1 The meeting will be conducted by the manager who should carefully explain the matters of concern to the employee and their representative, and handle issues sensitively. It is essential that the employee and their representative are given every opportunity to raise any issues they wish to discuss during the course of the meeting.

9.4 Outcome of first formal meeting

The outcomes of this first formal long-term sickness absence meeting may include:

  • Arranging a further informal meeting or meetings to allow a longer period of rehabilitation, where there is a prospect of recovery within a reasonable timeframe;
  • A provisional date for return to "normal working", (i.e. when the employee will be fit to undertake the same range of duties and responsibilities they had before they went on long-term sickness absence). A phased return to their normal duties will usually be considered.
  • A provisional date for return to their previous role, but with temporary or permanent adjustments in working arrangements, in recognition of the individual’s health condition. Such adjustments will be made in order to ensure compliance with the Equality Act (2010) as well as the University’s wider commitments to equality and diversity;
  • Consideration of redeployment to an alternative post which may be at a different grade or different terms and conditions of employment;
  • Arranging a further Formal Meeting to consider whether dismissal on the grounds of capability/incapacity because of ill health is appropriate. (Please refer to 10. Final formal meeting, of this Guidance).

9.4.1 The manager will write to the employee after the meeting, summarising the discussion and outlining next steps. This will include advising the employee that termination of their contract of employment may be considered at a Final Formal Meeting, if this is to be arranged.

10. Final formal meeting (frequent short sickness term and long term sickness absence)

10.1 The paragraphs under this section will apply when:

  • Frequent Short Term sickness absence: the attendance targets set at the second Formal Meeting have not been met, or
  • Long Term Sickness Absence: if a Formal Meeting under the long term absence procedure has established that the long term issues of incapacity appear unlikely to be resolved.

10.2 The employee shall be invited in writing to a Final Formal Meeting, which will take the form of a Hearing and will be conducted by the Head of Department or other Senior Manager. An HR Partner/Advisor must also be present.

10.2.1 The letter inviting the employee to the meeting shall:

  • give ten days notice of the meeting,
  • advise the employee of their right to be accompanied by a TU representative or a work colleague,
  • set out the issues to be considered,
  • invite the employee to provide a written submission of their case at least five days prior to the meeting,
  • advise that a possible outcome of the meeting is termination of their contract of employment.

10.2.2 The employee will be provided with copies of all papers that will be considered at least five days prior to the meeting.

10.3 Conduct of final formal meeting

10.3.1 The Head of Department conducting and hearing the case will:

  • Ask the manager of the employee to outline the sickness absence that has led to the Hearing, all the actions taken to date to support the employee back into work, and any particular circumstances or issues that are relevant to the meeting.
  • Give the employee, and/or their representative the opportunity to state their case and raise any factors they wish to have considered
  • Will question those involved in the case and will consider all representations before reaching a decision.

10.4 Outcome of final formal meeting

The outcome may include (but will not be limited to) the following outcomes:

  • That there are insufficient grounds to terminate the employee’s contract under this procedure and that further consideration should be given to the possibility of making reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to continue in employment. This may include allowing a longer period for improvement in attendance or recovery.
  • That matters should be considered under an alternative procedure.
  • That consideration should be given to redeployment to an alternative role, within a reasonable timescale (usually one month).
  • That where supported by medical evidence, consideration might be given to supporting ill health retirement, where the employee has submitted an application for ill health retirement to the relevant pension scheme.
  • That the employee’s employment should be terminated with appropriate notice or pay in lieu of notice

10.4.1 The decision may be given verbally at the hearing and will in any event be conveyed or confirmed in writing normally within five working days of the hearing.

10.4.2 In the event that the decision is taken to dismiss the employee, the letter notifying the employee and/or any nominated attendee of the decision will also advise the employee’s right to appeal against that decision. The correspondence will include the date that their employment will terminate, together with details of any notice arrangements.

11. Appeals against dismissal

11.1 The employee has the right of appeal against a decision to terminate his/her employment under this procedure. Any appeal should be sent to the Director of HR within ten days of receiving the written decision to dismiss. The appeal must state the grounds for appeal.

11.2 Appeals can be made on the following grounds:

  • The procedure was unfair, and/or the correct procedure was not followed.
  • The decision was unfair or perverse because the evidence did not support the decision.
  • The action taken against the employee was too severe.
  • There is new evidence that was not available at the original hearing to support the employees case

11.3 Appeals will normally be heard within thirty working days of the notice of appeal. HR will notify the parties involved (i.e., the employee concerned and the person who is to present the management case), of the date of the appeal, which will be held at a meeting which will be a Hearing, a minimum of ten days prior to the meeting.

11.4 The parties will send to HR any written submissions they wish to have considered and a copy of any documentary evidence they intend to rely on at the hearing. They will do so as soon as reasonably practicable and not less than five working days before the date set for the hearing to allow for an exchange of documents between the parties.

11.5 The appeal will be heard by an appeal panel consisting of three senior managers of the University appointed by the Vice-Chancellor and will include academic representation where appropriate. The appeal panel will have had no prior involvement with the case and the appeal hearing will be a review of the decision to dismiss.

11.6 Appeal procedure

11.6.1 At the Appeal Hearing the Chair will introduce those present and explain their respective roles.

11.6.2 The employee or his/her representative will present his/her case for appeal and any evidence in support of the case.

11.6.3 The manager presenting the University case and his/her HR Partner/Advisor will present the reasons why the original decision was taken.

11.6.4 Questions may be put to the employee, presenting manager and HR Partner/Advisor as appropriate.

11.6.5 If new facts have emerged or there is any dispute over facts, it may be necessary to adjourn the appeal hearing in order to investigate them and reconvene the hearing at a later date when this has been completed. Any new evidence must be shared with both parties prior to the reconvened hearing.

11.6.6 When the appeal panel has all the relevant evidence they will consider their decision after those presenting have withdrawn. This adjournment before a decision is taken allows the appeal panel time for reflection and proper consideration of the case for appeal and any additional evidence that has been presented.

11.6.7 The decision of the appeal panel may be conveyed verbally to the employee after a period of adjournment unless the appeal chair requires more time for reflection and consideration. The decision will anyway be conveyed (or confirmed) in writing within five working days of the hearing. The correspondence will contain the reasons for the appeal panel’s decision.

11.6. 8 The appeal panel decision may include (but not be limited to) the following:

  • Confirmation of the decision to terminate the contract
  • The finding that there are insufficient grounds to support dismissal and instruct that a further consideration should be given to making reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to continue in employment.

11.6.9 The outcome of the appeal will be final and there will be no further internal right of appeal. Any dismissal under this procedure will remain in force pending the outcome of any appeal.

Section three: General Guidance

12. Payment whilst on sick leave

The guidance given in this section is from the "Collective Agreement on Sickness Payments", which has been agreed with the University’s Trade Unions. In cases of doubt, clarification of any point should be sought from your HR Business Partner or Advisor, who will refer to the Collective Agreement documentation.

12.1 The University’s Occupational Sick Pay Scheme

Under the University’s Occupational Sick Pay Scheme an employee is entitled (subject to the conditions below) to receive Occupational Sick Pay for a period of sickness absence.

Entitlement to sick pay based on length of sevice
Length of service Entitlement
During the first three months of service Up to two weeks on full pay and a further two weeks on half pay
During the first year (after first three months) Up to two months on full pay and a further two months on half pay
During second and third year of service Up to four months on full pay and a further two months on half pay
During the fourth and fifth year of service Up to six months on full pay and a further four months on half pay
After completing five years of service Up to eight months on full pay and a further four months on half pay

Notes:

  • For the purposes of the University’s Occupational Sick Pay Scheme ’full pay’ means gross pay excluding fluctuating emoluments such as overtime and temporary allowances, but includes those payments which are a planned and regular feature of the employee’s remuneration, e.g. shift pay for permanent shift workers and enhanced payments for weekend work forming part of a regular shift pattern. ’Half-pay’ means 50% of full pay as defined above.
  • Special conditions apply for periods of maternity leave - please contact Payroll for further information.
  • If any Maternity Allowance or Employment Support Allowance is payable to the employee, the Occupational Sick Pay will be reduced by that amount.

12.2 Calculation of allowance

Sick pay is payable for the working days that you are contracted to work during that week, as specified in your contract of employment.

Example

Someone who is contracted to work Monday to Friday inclusive and is absent from work from Monday to Friday due to sickness, will receive sick pay for those five days. A part-time employee who works on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and is absent from Monday to Friday will only receive sick pay for three days. A shift worker, who maybe contracted to work full or part time and works those hours over a shift system, will have their sick pay calculated over the duration of their absence i.e. if they are absent for one week, they will receive a week’s sick pay. However, if that sickness is for a short period of time, for example 2 days, they will receive 2/7ths of their pay as sick pay.

12.3 Definition of One Month: For the purposes of assessing the period of full pay and half pay, the definition of one month is as follows:

Definition of one month
No. of days in a working week Definition of one month*
1 day shall be 5 working days
2 days shall be 9 working days
3 days shall be 14 working days
4 days shall be 18 working days
5 days shall be 22 working days
6 days shall be 26 working days

Example

A person who is contracted to work 1 day a week and is entitled to receive 2 months’ full pay and 2 months’ half pay will receive:

2 x 5 = 10 days’ full pay, plus 2 x 5/2 = 5 days’ half pay

Notes:

  • The varying definitions of ’one month’ given above are calculated to equalise monthly salaries throughout one year. As there are different numbers of days in calendar months, but salary is equalised, a similar formula has been evolved for sick pay allowances.
  • All paid holidays are counted as full working days.
  • Where an employee goes home from work unexpectedly , due to sickness, a partial days sickness is not included in the sick pay calculations.
  • The rate of allowance and the period for which sick pay will be paid in respect of absence due to sickness will be calculated by aggregating any previous periods of absence due to sickness during the twelve months immediately preceding the first day of absence.
  • In calculating the appropriate period of benefit referred to above, this refers to service with the University of York

12.3 Statutory Sick Pay

In most cases where the University’s Occupational sick pay scheme is applicable, SSP is a sum less than that paid by the University and is included within the allowances payable under the University’s own scheme. Where SSP exceeds those allowances, it will be paid in full by the University.

Further information on Statutory Sick Pay can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay-ssp/overview.

This includes who is covered by and qualification for SSP and rates of payment. Further information is available from Payroll office.

12.4 Pay when on a phased return to work

12.4.1 If the employee still has Occupational Sick Pay entitlement remaining during a phased return to work, then this can be used to make their salary up to their contractual rate. Payroll should be advised on a weekly basis using the Weekly Absence Notification form (add link) how many days/hours sick pay are being claimed.

12.4.2 It may be appropriate to use accrued annual leave where Occupational Sick Pay has expired or is reduced and the employee does not want to take the time as unpaid.

12.4.3 If there is no annual leave or Occupational sick pay entitlement remaining then the employee will be paid for the number of hours actually worked each week. The difference between the hours worked and the contractual hours will be unpaid. Payroll should be advised accordingly using the Weekly Absence Notification form.

13. Action when fit note advises limits/adjustments to duties or attendance

13.1 Employees may be issued with a ‘Fit Note’ on which the medical practioner has indicated that they ‘may be fit for work taking account of the following advice’. In this case the manager and employee should initially discuss the advice on the statement and whether the advice can be followed to support the employees return to work, and eventual return to their full duties. Advice may also be sought from their HR Partner/Advisor

13.2 The advice on the ‘Fit Note’ is not binding but gives the manager greater flexibility and better information to manage sickness absence. After discussing the ‘Fit Note’ advice with the employee (and, if required, Occupational Health) the manager will need to decide how to act on that information.

13.3 If it is decided that the adaptations or adjustments to assist return to work cannot be made the manager should explain the reasons for this to the employee, then use the ‘Fit Note’ as if the doctor had advised ‘not fit for work’. The employee does not need to go back to their doctor for a new ‘Fit Note’ to confirm this.

14. Unauthorised absence

14.1 If an employee has not contacted their line manager to report their sick absence, or has not produced the appropriate medical evidence, (see Section One "Reporting Sick Absence"), [Enter Link], then you should contact them by telephone email or letter. You should warn them that they will not be paid from the date that they last attended work, or their self-certification/last Fit Note, expired (whichever is the later). If you contact them by phone or email you should confirm this in a letter to the employee, and advise them to provide the appropriate self-certification/Fit Note without delay.

14.2 If you have cause concerned for the welfare of the individual who is absent and not contacted you, then contact your HR Partner/Advisor for advice.

14.3 If you still do not receive the appropriate notification within a reasonable timescale, and you have no reason to have concern for their immediate welfare, you should notify payroll who will make arrangements to stop their salary. You should then write to them again advising them:

  • that you are treating their absence as unauthorised;
  • the date from which their pay will be stopped; and
  • that if you do not hear from them within a reasonable timeframe you may consider taking disciplinary action against them which could result in their dismissal.

At this stage you should always contact your HR Business Partner/Advisor, who will advise on the appropriate action.

15. Doubt over genuine nature of sick absence

The University regards all reported sick absence as genuine. If a line manager has objective evidence which causes them to doubt the genuine nature of the reported absence they should contact their HR Business Partner/ Advisor for advice.

16. Sickness whilst absent on annual leave, public holidays and customary days

16.1 The University does not expect employees to lose holidays through sickness. If an employee is sick whilst on annual leave, on a public holiday or on a customary day then holiday may be taken in lieu of this. However, sickness absences for all holidays, including Public/Statutory and Customary should be accounted for by Fit Notes and in these circumstances self-certification will not be accepted.

16.2 Notification of sickness on Public/Statutory or Customary holidays should be made by the employee, to their line manager, as soon as practicable, and

  • The total period of incapacity must be covered by a Fit Note from a qualified medical practitioner
  • The employee must contact the University (by telephone if possible) as soon as they know that there will be a period of incapacity during a holiday.
  • Where the employee is overseas when they fall ill or suffer an injury, evidence must still be produced that the employee was ill by way of either a Fit Note or proof of a claim on an insurance policy for medical treatment received at the overseas location.

16.3 An employee must request to take any replacement holiday in accordance with the University’s normal holiday policy, in agreement with their line manager, and wherever practicable, in the same holiday year in which it was accrued.

17. Sickness whilst undergoing action under the Disciplinary or Capability Procedure

17.1 If an employee is absent through sickness while undergoing action under the Disciplinary or Capability Procedure, advice should always be sought from the HR Partner/Advisor.

17.2 As a general guide it is usually helpful to the employee’s well-being to resolve the disciplinary or capability matter as soon as possible, and they may still be asked to attend the appropriate meetings under those procedures during a period of sick absence.

17.3 It is particularly important in such cases to refer to the University’s guidance on Managing Individual Reports of Work Related Stress http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hsas/safetynet/stress/stress.htm, and to refer the employee to the support available from the University’s Employee Assistances Provider (CiC) http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/employee_assistance/. An Occupational Health referral may also be appropriate, and the HR Partner/Advisor will offer the manager further advice.

18. Absence following injury at work

In the event of an employee becoming absent due to an injury sustained in the course of their employment with the University it is essential that all appropriate documentation has been completed:

  • The accident/incident must be reported to the line manager
  • An accident/incident report must be completed
  • If the accident/incident meets the appropriate criteria the manager must ensure that it is reported to the appropriate authority

Further advice is available on the Health and Safety Website http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hsas/safetynet/Accidents/incident_reporting.htm

19. Absence following injury by third party

If an employee claims that their sickness absence has been caused by a third party, and their insurance company is enquiring about loss of earnings, then they, or their manager should contact payroll.

20. Holiday entitlement following sick leave.

20.1 An employee on long term sick leave who, as a result, is unable to take all of their leave entitlement in a particular year , will be allowed to carry forward any untaken annual leave to the following leave year.

20.2 An employee who is receiving occupational sick pay (or occupational maternity pay) on a Public/Statutory or Customary holiday is allowed to take the day(s) of holiday at a mutually convenient time (i.e. agreed with their line manager).

20.3 An employee who is on unpaid sick leave (i.e. they not eligible to receive occupational sick pay or they have exhausted their entitlement to occupational sick pay) on a Public/Statutory or Customary holiday will not be allowed to take the day of holiday on their return to work. However, such employees may receive payment of SSP for any Public/Statutory or Customary holidays which occur during any period of sickness for which there is an entitlement to SSP.

21. Terminal illness

21.1 The University will always seek to ensure that an employee who is diagnosed as suffering with a terminal illness is given both practical and compassionate assistance with their circumstances.

21.2 In the event of a manager becoming aware of that an employee is suffering from a terminal illness they should contact the HR Partner or Advisor who will offer advice on the support and assistance to consider.

22. Ill health retirement

If an individual wishes to consider whether they may be considered for ill-health retirement, they should consult with the University’s Pensions Administrator who can advise on the appropriate scheme rules.

23. Table of Roles and responsibilities for sickness absence procedure and guidance

Table of roles and responsibilities for sickness absence procedure
Title Role
Heads of Department Heads of Departments (or their nominee): see para12.1.1) are responsible for providing the Payroll Office with a weekly return showing individual details of all days/hours lost because of illness, injury or disease. Departments should use the Check Link"Weekly Absence Report Form", available on the finance web page.

The Head of Department will also conduct and hear any Final Formal meeting at which dismissal is a possible outcome.
Manager Managers, (this can include Heads of Department), will usually deal with absence issues as outlined in the Procedure and Guidelines.
HR Partner or Adviser The HR Partner or Advisor will provide advice in respect of the application of the procedure and guidance. They will support managers and Heads of Department in the process of making informed, fair and reasonable decisions. They will ask questions at meetings and challenge evidence where required.
Employee The employee will be responsible for reporting their sick absence and actively engage in the actions outlined in this procedure and guidance. They will be provided with the opportunity to bring forward information and put their case at any meetings, Hearing or Appeal. They may question the presenting manager and may make representations to the appeal officer(s).
Representative or companion The representative or companion may be either a Trade Union representative or work colleague. They will support and advise the employee, and may ask any questions or make any representations on behalf of the employee. They cannot answer questions that are directly put to the employee.
Nominated attendee If the employee is unable to attend a Formal meeting due to their illness, they may nominate a family member or other person appropriately connected with their affairs (nominated attendee) to attend and act in their place.
Note taker To take notes of a Formal Meeting. These will be notes of key points and will not be a verbatim record. The notes will be provided to both parties who will have the opportunity to submit their comments.
Appeal panel In cases of dismissal there will be an appeal panel of three senior managers appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, including a Chair, who will be a Member of Senior Management Group.
Appeal chair To lead and direct the hearing, decide if the employee’s appeal is justified, by questioning and challenging all available evidence in order to make an informed, fair and reasonable decision. The Appeal Chair should encourage all parties to speak freely to establish all the facts and determine if there are any special circumstances to be taken into account.
Senior manager Member of the Senior Management Group, Academic Co-ordinator or Head of Department
Payroll Office Payroll and Pensions Office will:
  • Receive and monitor weekly Absence Reports from departments
  • Record any absences on Resource Link
  • Prepare a monthly report to send to HR Partners showing long term sickness absence
  • Process and file self-certification forms
  • Record and file any Statements of Fitness to Work (Fit Notes) received in the department
  • Follow up on missing certificates and adjust/withhold pay when not forthcoming
  • Send letters to employees at the appropriate time advising them of their move to half pay or when their occupational sick pay has expired
  • Ensure compliance with legislation in terms of any statutory payments
  • Provide ad hoc support and information to Line managers, employees and HR on sick pay and absence details

23.1 Notes on roles:

23.1.1 The term "Head of Department" includes Heads of (or Directors of) Support Services Directorates. The Head of Department may select a nominee to act on his/her behalf. The nominee will be agreed in conjunction with HR and will be a senior colleague. In the absence of the Head of Department it may be appropriate for the manager deputising for the Head of Department to act on his/her behalf, or the Director of HR may refer the case to an alternative Head of Department or a more senior officer of the University.

23.1.2 Managers involved in specified roles should not be compromised in fulfilling those duties, for example, due to, significant prior knowledge of or involvement in the case or undertaking another role such as witness. If there is any concern from any party regarding potential compromise, this should be raised with the Director of HR who may refer the case to an alternative manager or Head of Department.

Approval: Policy Special Interest Sub Group Monitoring Review by Date: December 2018 Related Documents: Managing Ill Health and Sickness Absence Procedure (Available on HR Page of website) Collective Agreement on Sickness Payments (not published: available form HR)