Sickness / Absence Policy

Last updated: 1st February, 2021

Notification of absence

You must notify your manager by telephone on the first day of absence at the earliest possible opportunity and not after 8.15 am, except where it is not possible for you to do so. Notification should be made personally by you if you are able. If you are unable to telephone your manager yourself, you may ask a friend or relative to ring your manager on your behalf. Text messages are not an acceptable means of communicating that you will be absent from work. If a staff member is due to start @ 7:45 then they should email in as soon as they are aware that they are not able to come in.

You are expected to give an indication of how long you expect to be absent from work for and to contact your manager if this changes.

If your period of unfitness for work extends to more than seven days you are required to notify your manager of your continued incapacity once a week thereafter, unless otherwise agreed.

Evidence of incapacity

In cases of illness up to seven calendar days, you must sign a self-certification absence form upon your return to work. If  illness has kept you from work for longer than seven days (whether or not they are working days) you should see your doctor and obtain a medical certificate and forward this to us without delay. You must supply us medical certificates to cover the whole of your absence.

If the circumstances of your absence are such that online isolation note is appropriate, this will be accepted in lieu of a medical certificate.

If you fail to follow any of these procedures, your absence may be deemed to be unauthorised. Unauthorised absence is categorised as a gross misconduct offence in the disciplinary rules.

Payments

Unless otherwise stated in your Contract of Employment, any payment during sickness absence over and above Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be solely at our discretion.

You will be paid SSP if you are absent because of sickness or injury provided you meet the eligibility criteria. This is treated like wages and is subject to normal deductions.

“Qualifying days” are the only days for which you are entitled to SSP. The first three days of absence are normally “waiting days” for which SSP is not payable.  In certain circumstances set out in law, SSP may be payable from the first day of absence.

Where a second or subsequent period of incapacity occurs within 56 days of a previous period of incapacity, waiting days are not usually served again.

Any days of contractual sickness/injury payments which qualify for SSP will be offset against SSP on a day-to-day basis. Deductions may be made for any other state benefits received if you are excluded or transferred from SSP.

Where the circumstances of your illness or injury are such that you receive compensation or damages from a third party regarding the incapacity, you are required to include all monies paid by us to you as a loss of wages claim. Any payments which we may have made to you because of the absence (including SSP) will be repayable by you up to an amount not exceeding either the amount of the compensation or damages received by you or any amount paid by us to you.

Return to work

You should notify your manager as soon as you know on which day you will be returning to work, if this differs from a date of return previously notified.

If you have been suffering from an infectious or contagious disease or illness you must not report for work without having served the period of isolation required by public health advice.

In the case of gastroenteritis or other similar bug, you must not attend work until a clear 48 hours have passed since you stopped suffering the symptoms of the bug.

Attendance Management

We expect a good standard of attendance from all of our employees. If your attendance record falls below acceptable levels or you have been absent from work due to a longer term health issue, action may be taken as follows:

Persistent intermittent short term absence

Managers should address any intermittent absences with staff at as early a stage as possible.  Where possible, instances of intermittent absence will be dealt with informally.  Where informal steps are not enough to bring your attendance to a satisfactory level, formal action may be taken.

The first stage in such action is an investigation into the nature of and reasons for the short term absences.

Level 1 - Improvement notice / written warning

Where appropriate, you will be issued with an improvement notice / written warning containing the following information:

(a) an explanation of the reasons for the notice being issued

(b) an explanation of the improvements in attendance required

(c) the timescale for making these improvements (referred to as the "review period"

(d) any support we will provide to assist you

(e) an explanation of the consequences of failing to improve; and

(f) advice as to your right of appeal against the decision to issue an improvement notice / written warning

During the review period your attendance will be monitored and at the end of the review period, we will inform you of the next step:

  • if we are satisfied that you have met the requirements set out in the notice, no further action will be taken;
  • if we are not satisfied that you have met the requirements set out in the notice, further action may be taken; or
  • where appropriate, the review period may be extended

An improvement notice issued under this policy will normally remain in force for six months and a copy of the notice will be kept o your personnel record.  It will normally be disregarded for capability purposes after a period of six months, or any other period specified in the improvement notice, subject to satisfactory attendance during that time, but will form a permanent part of your personnel record.

Level 2 - final written warning

If you fail to meet the requirements set out in the improvement notice, or where the poor attendance is sufficiently serious to warrant it, a final written warning may be given to you.  It will give the following information

(a) an explanation of the reasons for the warning

(b) an explanation of the improvements required

(c) the timescale for making these improvements (referred to as the "review period"

(d) any support we will provide to assist you

(e) an explanation that failure to improve your attendance to the required level will render you liable to dismissal; and 

(f) advice as to your right of appeal against the decision to give you a final written warning

During the review period given in the final written warning, your attendance will be monitored and at the end of the review period you will be informed of the next step:

  • if we are satisfied that you have met the requirements set out in the final written warning, no further action will be taken;
  • if we are not satisfied that you have met the requirements set out in the final written warning , further action may be taken; or
  • where appropriate, the review period may be extended

A final written warning will normally remain in force for 12 months and a copy of the final written warning will be kept on your personnel record.  The final written warning will normally be disregarded for capability purposes after 12 months, subject to satisfactory attendance during that time, but will form a permanent part of your personnel record.

Level 3 - dismissal

If you fail to meet the requirements set out in the final written warning, dismissal will normally result.  There may also be very exceptional circumstances where the failure to improve attendance is sufficiently serious to warrant dismissal without previous formal warnings.  The procedure set out in the Disciplinary and Dismissal Procedure will be followed where the dismissal of an employee is contemplated.

You will be provided with written confirmation of the dismissal as soon as reasonably practicable afterwards.  This will set out:

  • details of the reason for the dismissal;
  • the date on which the employment terminated or will terminate;
  • the appropriate period of notice or pay in lieu of notice (if any); and
  • information on how to appeal against the dismissal

Long term absence

Where you have been on long term absence due to ill-health (normally 4 weeks or more), we aim to encourage and assist you to return to work if possible.  Where appropriate, we will consider redeployment or retraining and / or reasonable workplace adjustments.  It should be stressed that, since the circumstances of each case are likely to be different, the action taken in each case will be the action that is appropriate, taking into account the particular circumstances.

If not already known, we will ascertain the reason for the absence from you (by way of a meeting with you, if possible).  If you are not at work, this meeting may need to take place at your home at a time and date convenient to you.  If that is not possible, it may need to take place by telephone.

We may seek to understand your medical condition by seeking consent to obtain a report from:

  • your GP or consultant; and/or
  • the organisation's own doctor, an independent occupational health consultant, an occupational health adviser or another appropriate medical adviser.

The opinion of your GP or consultant, or any other medical adviser, may be obtained on relevant matters which may include the following:

  • the nature of your illness;
  • how long the illness is likely to last;
  • if, and when, you will be able to return to your current role;
  • whether there are any reasonable adjustments the Company should make to assist you in a return to work; and
  • whether your illness falls within the legal definition of disability

This is a non-exhaustive list and any request for a report will be tailored to the individual circumstances of each case.  We cannot compel you to give consent to us obtaining the medical report, but if you withhold your consent we may reluctantly have to take decisions regarding your employment with us without the benefit of expert medical opinion.

We will seek to meet with you to discuss the terms of the medical reports obtained and any recommendations made in them, including whether any measures can be taken by us to assist you in returning to work and your own view on the situation.

If the advice in the medical reports is, for example, that you are fit to return to work, or will be fit to returning to work within a manageable period, or may be fit to return if measures can be taken to assist you in returning to work, we may seek to put in place a return to work programme which will describe any steps to be taken, any stages of a phased return (eg shorter working hours or different working arrangements), and the timescale for achieving this.

If it is not possible to put in place a return to work programme (eg because the advice in the medical reports is that you will not be fit to return to work, or that it will be some considerable time before you are able to return to work, or if the return to work programme is unsuccessful, we may need to move to more formal action.

If termination of employment is being considered, the procedure set out it the Disciplinary and Dismissal Procedure will be followed.

Miscellaneous

If you are found to have taken sick leave when you were not genuinely ill, this will result in disciplinary action being taken which may include your dismissal.

Whilst off work on sick leave, you are not permitted (without our written consent) to undertake any other paid or voluntary work. Breach of this rule will lead to disciplinary action being taken against you.

If you report for work and we have a reasonable belief that you may not be fit for work or that your attendance at work may put your health and safety, or the health and safety of others, at risk, you may be placed on precautionary suspension with full pay, pending the outcome of medical investigations into your fitness for work. If you refuse to comply with requests for medical reports, the period of suspension may be unpaid.