Cardiff University Sickness Absence Procedure (For All Staff)
1.1 This procedure is applicable to all employees and is non contractual and is
designed to ensure that there is a fair and consistent approach to the management
and monitoring of sickness absence across the University.
1.2 The University recognises that from time to time employees will be absent through
illness and wishes to provide a supportive framework for employees who are
experiencing genuine illness, whilst recognising the impact of such absences on the
University. Therefore the University has developed sickness absence procedures
that aim to balance the needs of the individual with the operational requirements of
1.3 Cardiff University is committed to equality of opportunity and to promoting an ethos
of dignity, courtesy and respect throughout the organisation. The University wishes
to create a positive culture towards attendance at work and recognises that
sickness absence may take many forms. Cardiff University understands and
implements the social model of disability1. Support will be provided to all
employees with specific support to those covered by the Disability Discrimination
Act 1995 (DDA) (as amended). Support is available, where appropriate, from the
Staff Counselling Service and The Occupational Health Unit. Disability has a broad
definition and gives protection to some people who wouldn’t necessarily use the
term “disabled” to describe themselves. It is an individualised definition in that it
starts with the effect on the person rather than the nature of the diagnosis or
impairment. Under the DDA a person is considered disabled if they have ‘a
physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect
on their ability to undertake normal day-to-day activities’. A disability will normally
be identified by the individual staff member or maybe identified during discussions
regarding the sickness absence.
1.4 Line managers2 have a central role in the effective management of absence due to
ill health and its impact upon service provision. This includes ensuring that
consideration has been given to the impact of the absence on other staff within the
immediate work area. The University aims to empower managers to manage and
support employees effectively by understanding the factors affecting their
attendance and ensuring employees receive appropriate advice and assistance,
including reasonable adjustments to their working arrangements or environment.
Where a member of staff’s attendance is affected by a disability the DDA states that
an employer has to make reasonable adjustments to any physical feature of the
premises, or any provision, criteria or practice of the employer .
This scheme is based on the adoption of the Social Model of Disability. The social model recognises that
while many people have physical or sensory impairments, learning difficulties, mental health needs or other
long-term health conditions, it is the failure of society to take account of these differences which disables
people and prevents them from participating fully in work, social and public life.
For the purposes of this document where the term Line Manager is used it also refers to other designated
September 2010 v1.1 1
The Code of Practice outlines the issues to be considered in determining whether
any particular steps are 'reasonable in all the circumstances'. The factors to take
into account are:
how effective the adjustment would be in overcoming the disadvantage;
how practicable it is to make the adjustment;
the financial and other costs incurred by the employer and the extent of any
disruption to activities;
the extent of the employer's financial and other resources;
the availability of financial and/or other assistance in making the adjustment;
the nature of the employer's activities and size of undertaking.
An adjustment is simply a change, either to a physical feature of the environment or
to the way things are done. It is not possible to give a general definition of what
constitutes a “reasonable adjustment” as this will depend upon an individual’s
specific needs and circumstances but the aim of such an adjustment is to enable
the employee to develop and use their abilities on an equal basis with non-disabled
colleagues whenever possible. Further information in relation to the DDA and
reasonable adjustments can be found at
1.5 Sickness absence information is sensitive personal data that should be treated
strictly confidentially by those receiving such information. All absence monitoring
should always be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Data
Protection Act 1998 (as amended). Sickness absence records of members of staff
will only be made available to other staff members who need to process the
information for monitoring and management purposes. Line managers will be
provided with sickness absence information about those who work for them in so far
as the information is necessary for the Line manager to carry out their role. Further
advice on data protection can be obtained from the University’s Governance and
Compliance Division or at http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/govrn/cocom/accinf/index.html
1.6 This procedure is supported by a number of training events to ensure staff involved
in managing absence are provided with adequate support and guidance.
2. The University’s Occupational Health Services
2.1 The University is concerned for the health of its employees and encourages health
improvement initiatives, through occupational health advice and guidance.
2.2 The Occupational Health Unit, in consultation with Schools and Directorates, has an
integral role to play in assessing individuals where reasonable adjustments are
required. Where adjustments are required, these will be discussed with the line
manager, the employee and, where appropriate, external advisors such as the
‘access to work3’ scheme advisor.
2.3 The Occupational Health Unit will provide advice and guidance and, in consultation
with the line manager, the employee and the Human Resources Division will
Access to Work is a government-run programme delivered by Jobcentre Plus to help overcome barriers
that disabled people come across in getting or keeping work. The programme helps by providing advice, an
assessment of the employee's disability needs in the workplace and, if required, a financial grant towards the
cost of any necessary support.
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develop a rehabilitation plan. The Occupational Health Unit will give general
medical advice to keep employees in work and, where appropriate, to facilitate their
early return to work or other resolution as appropriate.
2.4 The Occupational Health Unit has an integral role in advising the University and
employees about the workplace, work design issues, as well as work place
systems, processes and practices, which may have a contributory factor to ill health
3. Absence Monitoring
3.1 Schools and Administrative Directorates are required to maintain absence records
and to provide all absence records and certificates to the Human Resources
3.2 Each School/Directorate has a designated employee(s) who maintains all absence
data and undertakes the requisite reporting responsibilities.
3.3 During their School/Directorate Induction, employees must be made aware of the
notification and certification procedures for sickness absence and that attendance
levels will be monitored throughout their employment.
3.4 All absences due to sickness, injury or accident will be monitored in relation to
reason, frequency and/or pattern of absence, against agreed management
standards. The University’s absence Management Standards are published on the
University’s web site. Where a pattern of absence gives cause for concern or the
absence level has reached an absence management standard this will initiate, in
the first instance, action in line with the informal procedure for the early
management of sickness absence (See Appendix 1). Following the informal action,
should the situation fail to improve, the absence will be managed formally in line
with the relevant Capability Procedures. For staff on the terms and conditions of
grades 1-4 this will be the ‘Capability Procedures for staff on grades 1-4’ and for
staff on the terms and conditions of grades 54 and above this will be Statute XVIII.
The University Management Standards are set by the University and may be
3.5 Absences which are related to disability, maternity or an accident at work where
declared by the member of staff will be recorded as such on the HR system and
considered separately from other absence data. Absences relating to disability,
maternity or accident at work will not be included in the general absence standards
applied for informal or formal intervention and will not be taken into account for the
purposes of promotion, references or selection for redundancy. Such absence will
be subject to review but not as part of the University’s Management Standards.
Members of staff must identify such absences themselves and must clearly indicate
the nature of the absence on the Sickness Absence Notification (SAN) Form. If
staff are in doubt if an absence is disability related they may wish to review the
information on the following web site
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/humrs/staffinfo/policyprocedures/dda1995.html or seek
advice from the Occupational Health Unit.
With the exception of staff who are currently serving probation which deems that such staff are not entitled
to the benefits of the provisions of Statute that relate to Disciplinary Procedures and Appeals. Any issues
needing to be addressed will be dealt with under probation.
September 2010 v1.1 3
4. Absence Reporting by Employees
4.1 It is the responsibility of every employee to work when medically fit to do so and to
comply with the University’s sickness absence procedure.
4.2 Any employee falling ill during a working day should report the illness to their line
manager, or nominated representative, prior to any further action and/or their
departure. If an employee becomes incapable of work prior to undertaking any
work related activities they will be deemed to have been incapable of work for the
whole day and this will constitute the first day of sickness. Repeated occurrences
of leaving work early will be subject to investigation and appropriate action.
4.3 Staff should complete the Sickness Absence Notification Form (SAN) in respect of a
partial day’s absence.
It is a statutory and University requirement that notification must be received on the
first day of absence. The employee, or in exceptional circumstances, someone
acting on his/her behalf who can deal with the points outlined in section 4.7 below,
must telephone (not text) the School/Administrative Directorate as soon as
possible. Usually this will take place within the first hour of the normal working
day,5 6 to give details of the absence.
4.5 Contact should be made with the line manager/supervisor, or their nominated
representative. Where it has not been possible to speak to the line manager and a
message has been left, the employee must telephone during the day to speak to
their line manager or other nominated person. In addition, the employee may be
contacted by the line manager if appropriate to ensure that all relevant information
has been obtained in line with section 4.7 below. Contact will be sensitive to the
absent employee’s circumstances. Further advice can be obtained from Human
Resources in the first instance.
4.6 Consequences of late notification
Under University and Statutory Sick Pay rules, if there is no ‘good cause’ for late
notification, one day’s sick pay will be withheld for each day that notification is late.
This will be classed as unauthorised absence and may be dealt with in accordance
with the relevant disciplinary procedure.
4.7 Required Information
On the first day of absence the following information must be provided:
Employees required to work a shift pattern must contact their line manager/supervisor, or nominated
representative, prior to the start of the shift.
For employees in posts where cover needs to be arranged and therefore requiring earlier notification of
sickness, arrangements for doing so will be agreed at a local level.
September 2010 v1.1 4
the nature of the illness;
the day or date on which the illness / current symptoms began (including
Saturday and Sunday);
the possible duration of the absence;
details of any outstanding work and diary commitments of which the employee is
Any steps that the employee is undertaking to assist their recovery e.g. visiting
GP, making an alternative medical appointment.
4.8 Ongoing Contact
The arrangements for all contact should be agreed between the line manager and
the employee. Where an employee does not have a Statement for Fitness for Work
(Fit Note) indicating the duration of their absence, it is suggested as a guideline that
contact with the line manager occurs as follows:
day one of absence;
day four of absence;
day eight of absence;
following that, weekly contact will be required.
This is in line with Statutory Sick Pay and University requirements.
4.9 Where telephone contact is not possible alternative arrangements for continuing
contact should be agreed. These arrangements should be agreed in advance and
the employee should not wait until the first absence occurs.
5.1 It is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that sickness absence
documentation is submitted promptly. A failure to do so may result in sickness
payments being stopped or suspended.
5.2 The University’s certification procedures require:
1-7 calendar days (inclusive) On return to work the completion of a Sickness
Absence Notification (SAN) form
8 calendar days or longer A Fit Note to be obtained from a Medical
Practitioner / Hospital and on return to work the
completion of a Sickness Absence Notification
5.3 Fit notes must be sent to the line manager/supervisor or, if agreed local
arrangements determine otherwise, to the person who has been nominated to
record absence for the School/Directorate. They are recorded on the Human
Resources Management Information System and submitted to Human Resources
for confidential storage.
September 2010 v1.1 5
5.4 Guidance on the application of fit notes, where the GP has identified the potential
for an early return, is available on the Human Resources website. Further advice
may be sought from the Occupational Health Unit as required.
6. Short term Absences
6.1 Where the level of short-term absences (Short-term absences are defined as
absences of less than 4 working weeks) has reached an absence management
standard this will initiate action under the relevant appropriate University
procedures. Informal processes for all staff will be undertaken in line with the
Absence Capability Procedures (See Appendix 1). The aim of this will be to identify
the reasons for the absences and agree measures to correct the situation where
7. Long term Absences
7.1 The University defines a long term absence as more than 4 consecutive working
weeks or more. The Line Manager will need to seek advice and guidance on each
case from their Human Resources Manager. A list of all Human Resource
Managers and the Schools they support is available in the Human Resources Key
Contacts List which is available for download on the following web site
7.2 The University’s Capability Procedure for Employees on Grades 1-4 outlines the
procedure that will be adopted in cases of long term absence for staff employed on
the terms and conditions of grades 1-4. For staff on the terms and conditions of
grade 5 and above, long term absence will be managed in accordance with Statute
XVIII. At four working weeks’ absence the School/Administrative Directorate must
refer the individual to the Occupational Health Unit for further advice and
8. Returning to Work and Referrals to Occupational Health
8.1 On returning to work, employees must report to their Line Manager, or nominated
representative, in the first instance unless prior arrangements to report to The
Occupational Health Unit have been agreed. A Sickness Absence Notification form
must be completed and a return to work meeting held to support the employee back
to work and to:
Discuss the reasons for absence and ensure that the member of staff is fit to
return to work;
Check that the necessary certification has been completed and provided;
Discuss how the work was covered in their absence and how the workload
could be reorganised to accommodate any backlog;
Where appropriate, raise any concerns with the member of staff’s absence
levels with reference to the University’s Management Standards;
Where appropriate consider whether the member of staff should be referred
to the Occupational Health Unit.
8.2 Employees are required to report to The Occupational Health Unit on the following
the illness has been for four continuous working weeks or more;
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the illness followed a visit overseas;
an absence, which has lasted over 3 days and has occurred as a result of an
accident at work;
the School/Administrative Directorate has concerns regarding the employee’s
fitness to return to work;
Occupational Health advice is required to assist in a return to work assessment;
the absence was due to contracting Rubella or German Measles, Mumps,
Chicken Pox or other infectious diseases;
Catering Employees returning to work following an intestinal complaint (All
catering employees returning to work after they have been absent following
intestinal complaints will be required to report to the Health Centre, after
reporting to the authorised employee, and before starting work. Employees
should not return to work until symptoms have been absent for 48 hours.)
to facilitate reasonable adjustments as necessary.
8.3 A referral to the Occupational Health Unit must be made where work related stress
has been identified as a cause for the absence
9. Advance notification of expected return to work
9.1 In order to assist in the organisation of work, employees should give the maximum
possible notice to the School/Administrative Directorate, as soon as they are certain
of their date of return, for example, expecting to return on the following day or the
start of the next shift etc.
9.2 If the absence is expected to be longer than originally indicated on the first day of
absence, the employee must inform the School/Administrative Directorate and then
in accordance with 4.8.
10. Partial Resumption of Duties
10.1 Line Managers in consultation with the Occupational Health Unit and the Human
Resources Division will need to consider whether a phased return to work, 7 is
needed to support an employee who is recovering from an illness or injury that has
involved an extended period of absence or where the Occupational Health Unit
advises this is appropriate.
10.2 An initial phased return to work is individually generated following Occupational
Health advice and discussion with the School/Directorate. This will usually be for a
period of up to six weeks, however an extension may be agreed on a case by case
basis. If upon expiry of the agreed period the employee is unable to resume full
duties consideration should be given to an alteration to their terms and conditions of
employment such that their working hours may be varied, salary and benefits shall
be payable on a pro rata basis.
10.3 Pay during any initial partial resumption of duties will be determined as follows:
for as long as the employee is still entitled to receive full sick pay then full pay
would be paid;
consisting of a return to work on a part time, reduced hours or altered basis
September 2010 v1.1 7
where entitlement to full pay has expired and the employee is still entitled to
receive half sick pay then half pay would be paid, unless the hours of duty are
more than 50% in which case they will be paid pro rata to the hours worked;
where entitlement to sick pay has been exhausted the employee will be paid pro
rata to the hours worked.
10.4 Reasonable adjustments should be considered on a case by case basis to ensure
disabled staff members are not disadvantaged as a result of their disability (See
11. Sick Pay
11.1 Entitlement to Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) is outlined at
11.2 Subject to contractual arrangements, the University’s OSP scheme covers
employees who are absent from duty owing to certified illness, including industrial
disease or industrial accident. During their absence, employees shall receive not
more than the normal salary payment by way of (i) payments arising from statutory
sick pay, (ii) payments arising from state incapacity benefits and (iii) allowances
provided by the OSP scheme. All payments will be subject to compliance with the
relevant sick pay scheme.
11.3 Prior to changes to an employee’s OSP, where the absence is continuing, the
University will normally write to the employee at home to confirm changes to or the
expiration of their sick pay.
11.4 Medical Opinion
If required by the University, an employee shall, during any period of prolonged or
frequent absence, undergo a medical examination by an external registered
medical practitioner nominated and paid for by the University. In the event of a
difference in medical opinion as to the employee’s fitness for work the matter shall,
at the request of the University or of the employee, be submitted to an independent
medical referee, chosen jointly.
11.5 Suspension of University Sick Pay
If the medical referee determines that the employee is fit to resume work, the
allowance under the University’s OSP ceases with effect from the date on which the
referee determines that the employee should return to work.
11.6 Suspension of Statutory Sick Pay
Where the payment of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is suspended, the employee will be
informed that they can take the matter to the relevant Government Agency.
11.7 For further information on the OSP and SSP, please contact the Salaries Office,
Finance Directorate, 30-36 Newport Road.
September 2010 v1.1 8
12. Exclusions from the Scheme
12.1 Where the sickness absence is due to the employee’s own misconduct or due to an
injury suffered whilst working for private gain in their own time for another employer,
occupational sick pay may be withheld by the University. Further information in
respect of any concerns relating to this issue can be obtained from Human
13. Accident Third Party Claim
13.1 If an employee is absent from work as a result of an accident or injury that happens
whilst they are not at work, and that is caused by another person, damages for loss
of earnings may be recoverable from the person that caused the accident, who is
referred to as “the Third party”.
13.2 In this case, in order to enable the University to reclaim any sick pay that can be
recovered from the third party the following arrangements will apply:
13.3 The University will not pay sick pay as of right, but will advance to the employee a
sum not exceeding their normal entitlement to sick pay, on the understanding that
should they be awarded compensation for loss of earnings, they must refund to the
University any such compensation received, subject to a maximum of the total sum
advanced during the period of absence.
13.4 If such a refund is made, the period covered by the refund will be disregarded for
the purpose of calculating entitlement to sickness absence payments for any period
of sickness. However, where no damages for loss of earnings are actually
recovered, the University will waive its right to seek a refund and the period
concerned will be regarded as normal sickness absence for payment purposes.
13.5 The requirement to refund advances from damages received, does not extend to
any non salary related compensatory award, nor to payments made directly by an
insurance company without reference to third party recovery.
14. Alcohol and Drugs-Related Absences
14.1 Where it is established that absences are due to an employee’s dependence upon
alcohol or drugs, the University will consider whether it is appropriate to treat the
problem as a medical rather than a disciplinary matter. This will include advice from
the Occupational Health Unit and Counselling Services. Where a staff member has
developed a disability as a result of dependence this will be treated as other
disabilities in accordance with the DDA (if applicable).
15. Accidents/Injuries at Work
15.1 Accidents or injuries that occur at work which result in the absence of an employee
will not be classified as sickness in relation to the University’s agreed management
standards. In cases of injury at work the employee and the manager must complete
the relevant accident report details of which may be found on the Health and Safety
web pages http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/osheu/report_accident/index.html
September 2010 v1.1 9
Absences which occur as a result of injury at work will be identified as such on the
HR system and recorded appropriately.
16. Annual Leave
16.1 Employees are not allowed to take annual leave instead of sickness absence when
they are too ill to come to work. However, while on long term sickness absence, a
member of staff can request that a period of that time is designated as annual leave
and then either return to work or continue their sickness absence depending on
relevant medical certification.
16.2 An employee who becomes sick during the course of annual leave is regarded as
being absent due to sickness if the period of absence is covered by a fit note and
the School /Administrative Directorate has been notified as soon as possible that
the sickness will, or has, interrupted the leave.
16.3 Employees are entitled to take the balance of the leave entitlement at a later date
after returning to work, usually before the end of that leave year period. With
agreement this can be extended but will not go over two annual leave year periods.
16.4 For employees who are covered by a Fit Note and who are sick on a designated
Bank or Public holiday or University closure day, these may be reclaimed.
September 2010 v1.1 10
Appendix 1 – Informal procedure for early management of sickness absence
1.1 Where absence levels are of concern, as determined in line with Cardiff University’s
Sickness Absence Procedure, this Procedure will be invoked to ensure a fair and
consistent approach to the management of sickness absence.
1.2 The University recognises that there are many different types of absence which can
be generally categorised as short term (i.e. repeated days of full or partial absence,
frequent or persistent in nature) or long term (i.e. for continuous periods or periods
of time of four working weeks or more).
1.3 These procedures should be followed where:
an employee’s attendance level falls below the University’s agreed standards;
the pattern or amount or reason for absence(s) gives cause for concern;
at any time the School/Directorate are not satisfied with the reasons for absence
as notified (if deemed appropriate this may be dealt with in line with the relevant
1.4 These procedures are not to be used in relation to an employee’s failure to comply
with the procedural requirements of the sickness absence policy which should be
addressed using the University’s relevant disciplinary procedures.
1.5 The University shall seek to ensure that confidentiality is maintained throughout this
procedure and every effort will be made to ensure that the employee’s position is
not undermined in relation to their colleagues. This will not preclude the University
from providing relevant information about the outcome, of any such procedure, to
any person where this is appropriate.
1.6 If the nature of the employee’s illness makes it so that they are not deemed
medically fit to be consulted, any meeting held will be with whom ever has been
designated to act on their behalf (a relative, a community psychiatric Nurse, friend
or a medical social worker etc).
1.7 Where an employee refuses to be referred to the University’s Occupational Health
Unit or refuses to allow access to their Medical Records under the Data Protection
Act 1998 (as amended) and/or the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 (as
amended), the University reserves the right to make decisions based on the
medical evidence available to it.
1.8 Absence will be monitored using agreed Management Standards. Cardiff University
uses the Bradford Factor for the management of Sickness Absence. Further
Information on the Bradford Factor and its application at Cardiff University is
available on the Human Resources website. This may be updated as appropriate in
consultation with the appropriate Trade Unions.
1.9 Support will be provided to all employees with specific support to those covered by
the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended). Support is available, where
appropriate, from the Staff Counselling Service, The Occupational Health Unit and
Dignity Advisors. Further information in relation to the Disability Discrimination Act
and reasonable adjustments can be found on the University website
September 2010 v1.1 11
2.1 Where attendance levels are a cause for concern the Head of School/Directorate or
nominee should establish the facts with the aim of resolving issues quickly and
effectively in an informal setting. This will normally involve consideration of the
the employee’s absence record over the previous rolling twelve month period;
a comparison of records across the work area / University (where appropriate);
identification of specific problems or difficulties caused by the absence;
identification of any obvious work related issues contributing to the absences;
a review of the reasons and periods of the absences to establish if they are
unrelated or not.
2.2 Where a cause for concern is confirmed, the Line Manager, or where appropriate
the Head of School/Directorate or nominee, will arrange a ‘Review’ meeting with the
employee. This will normally be conducted on a one to one basis. The employee
will be informed, in writing, of the need to attend a meeting and the reason for
2.3 The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that the University is aware of any factors
influencing the absence and that the employee is aware of the University’s
management standards. The meeting will normally explore the following areas:
the exact cause for concern;
to identify any factors affecting the absence;
to discuss the impact of the absence on colleagues and service delivery;
a consideration of a referral to The Occupational Health Unit;
any reasonable adjustments that may be required under the appropriate piece of
2.4 At the meeting the employee will be informed that, should the situation not improve,
consideration will be given to formal action in accordance with the relevant
University Procedure or Statute. The employee will be informed in writing of the
outcome of the discussions held as soon as reasonably practicable, and where
appropriate, any agreed outcomes which may include an agreed action plan.
2.5 Where an appropriate review period may have been agreed, the period should be
reflective of the individual circumstances. The normal maximum review period is
three months; however shorter periods may be set. In cases which merit early
intervention action may be taken, using the formal procedures, prior to the specified
date of review.
2.6 At the end of the review period a meeting will be held with the employee to
determine what, if any, further actions will be taken. The membership of the
meeting will be as outlined at 2.2 above. The meeting will be documented and the
outcomes confirmed in writing to the employee as soon as is reasonably
2.7 If the above does not resolve the matter, or if it is clear that the problem is more
serious than anticipated, the formal procedures may be invoked. For staff on terms
and conditions of grades 1-4 this will be the Capability Procedure, and for staff on
terms and conditions of grades 5 and above it will be governed by Statute XVIII.
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