VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 12 POSTED ON: 1/26/2011
The University of Salford CODE OF PRACTICE FOR MANAGING SICKNESS ABSENCE Please note: In this document “absence” refers solely to sickness absence 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 The University of Salford is committed to optimising the contribution of all its staff. As part of this aim it is essential that throughout the University both staff and managers are committed to achieving the lowest possible levels of absence compatible with the health of members of staff. High standards of attendance lead to higher levels of service provision and higher morale. 1.2 The sickness absence monitoring and management procedure aims to provide a fair, sensitive, prompt and consistent framework for handling staff sickness absence. It is designed to complement the procedures laid down in existing Conditions of Service and, where appropriate, the relevant Statutes of the University. 2 ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES The University 2.1 Managers carry the main responsibility for the day-to-day management of absence, including the fair and reasonable application of the University’s monitoring and management procedure. 2.2 Managers are responsible for ensuring that new members of staff are made aware of and understand the procedures for sickness absence reporting. 2.3 Managers are responsible for the monitoring of absence levels within work groups, for the identification of areas of concern and for the development of systems of work that help to minimise absence. The latter should include ensuring good health and safety standards, proper recruitment, induction and training of staff, effective communication and a reasonable working environment. 2.4 Staff sickness must always be dealt with in a confidential and sensitive manner. 2.5 Where medical advice would be beneficial and where longer term health problems have been identified the agreement of a member of staff to referral to the University’s Medical Adviser may be sought. In this case, discussion will take place with the member of staff before referral takes place and, where appropriate, the necessary medical enquiry consent forms will be requested. Staff 2.6 Each member of staff has a responsibility to fulfil the terms and conditions of his/her contract unless prevented from doing so by illness. When a member of staff is prevented from attending work due to illness, he/she is obliged to follow the notification procedure for reporting sickness absence and to provide medical statements where appropriate. 2.7 Where a member of staff has been absent from work due to illness for a continuous period of 6 weeks or more, the University may request his/her agreement to a referral to the University’s Medical Adviser for a medical examination. It is expected that the member of staff shall not unreasonably refuse to attend the examination. Where the member of staff refuses to give their consent to a medical examination, the University reserves the right to take appropriate action under the conditions of service including, where applicable, Statute XXV. Ultimately, the University also reserves the right to suspend the occupational sick pay of the member of staff. 2.8 Members of staff should not report in sick unless they are genuinely ill and unfit for work. If evidence of an abuse of the sickness scheme is discovered, the matter will be dealt with under the University’s disciplinary procedure. If a member of staff feels that he/she has been treated unfairly in respect of sickness absence monitoring and management procedures, he/she is entitled to raise the matter under the University’s grievance procedure. 3 CURRENT NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE Managers should nominate a person/persons to be contacted in the event of sickness absence and should ensure that all staff are notified accordingly. Day 1 Members of staff must contact the nominated person at the earliest possible time on the first day of absence. Brief details of the illness should be given and, where possible, an indication of a likely return date. Day 4 A member of staff still absent through sickness on day 4 (including Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays) should complete a University self-declaration form and return it to the nominated person upon the return work of the member of staff. Day 8 For an absence of more than 7 consecutive days (including Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays), a member of staff must advise the nominated person of their continuing ill health, obtain a medical statement covering his/her absence from the 8th day onwards and forward it to the nominated person. Subsequent medical statements must be submitted to cover the absence where it extends beyond the period covered by the initial statement. It is recommended that contact should be maintained with members of staff during periods of sickness absence. Return to Work Where a member of staff is aware that he/she will be returning to work on a specific day, it would be helpful if he/she could inform the Faculty/School/Division in advance. Where necessary, a final medical statement must be handed to the nominated person. A completed self-declaration form must also be handed to the nominated person. The Salaries and Wages Office requires weekly returns detailing staff absences. Self- declaration forms and medical statements must be forwarded to the Salaries and Wages Office without delay. 4 RECORDING SICKNESS ABSENCE General It is essential that sickness absence is recorded accurately. Improved accuracy can be helped by: - Faculties/Schools/Divisions reinforcing staff obligations to report sickness absence - the nominated person maintaining records of all sickness absences, together with duration and reason - Faculties/Schools/Divisions notifying the Salaries and Wages Office promptly of all sickness absences. Accurate sickness absence records enable management to: - monitor sickness levels - analyse patterns of absence - determine action to be taken - with individuals to improve attendance - monitor frequency and costs of the authorisation of additional part time contracts or overtime payments to cover for sickness absence. Procedure The nominated person who maintains records of all absences should complete the standard pro-forma on a weekly basis and return it to the Salaries and Wages Office. 5 SICKNESS ABSENCE MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES (a) Salaries and Wages Office - Maintaining updated records of sickness absence for all staff from the weekly returns, medical statements and self-declaration forms sent to them - Ensuring statutory sick pay and occupational sick pay are paid correctly, and ensuring that staff are transferred from full to half pay or to a no-pay situation, as appropriate to their Conditions of Service. (b) Human Resources Division - Induction –ensuring that newly appointed Managers are aware of their role in managing sickness absence. To point out to Managers the high cost of non- attendance in terms of disrupted work schedules, inefficiency, work pressures placed on colleagues, overtime costs, and the decline in quality of service. - Training – providing Managers with the knowledge and skills to manage sickness absence effectively by means of appropriate training. - Advice and Interpretation – providing Managers with professional advice and interpretation of policies and procedures relating to sickness absence to help improve staff attendance. - Providing a Welfare Service to Staff – to assist them in dealing with problems affecting their attendance at work and guiding them towards the staff counselling service should they feel in need of extra, independent support. (This can include home visits to staff on long-term sickness, in conjunction with Managers, should that be agreeable to the member of staff concerned.) - Referrals to the University’s Medical Adviser – to establish, with the agreement of the individual, a medical position as part of the process of managing absence, and usually following a recommendation from line management, in accordance with 4(d) below. - Review of Policy/Procedures – reviewing the continued relevance/appropriateness of absence policies and procedures. - Assistance Role – particularly where members of staff are disabled – providing assistance with returning to work after absence, redesigning jobs, finding alternative work, modifying working environment, etc. (c) Line Management (i) Managing absence is primarily the Manager’s responsibility. Some Managers may not find it easy to discuss personal problems with the staff concerned and can be reluctant to address the issue of sickness absence. However, the issue is unlikely to go away. The management of attendance at work is as much the Manager’s responsibility as any other aspect of the performance of their staff. (ii) Should sickness absence problems arise within the probationary period they should be considered under the appropriate conditions of service at the relevant review stages. (iii) Managers can influence attendance levels due to sickness and their main responsibilities should be as follows: - Ensuring that, when appropriate, a “return to work” interview is conducted with an individual on their return to work. - Ensuring that accurate absence records are maintained in order to enable absence returns to be completed promptly. - Reviewing staff sickness absence records. - Ensuring that staff comply with the University’s sickness absence notification procedure. - Ensuring that new members of staff, as part of the induction process, are made aware of and understand the procedures for sickness absence. - Ensuring that satisfactory health and safety standards are maintained. - Acting fairly and consistently in applying the appropriate procedures. - Asking for specialist help and advice from the Human Resources Division when needed. - Ensuring that, in conjunction with the Human Resources Division, staff are supported and assisted, as far as reasonably practicable, with any disability- related problems. (d) The University’s Medical Adviser - Responding to requests from the Human Resources Division to medically examine staff, with the latter’s agreement. These could be staff who have had frequent short-term absences or who are off on long-term sickness absence. - Providing advice on the effect of an individual’s illness on their ability to carry out their duties, the timescale within which an individual is likely to resume duties, what future treatment is envisaged, and whether there is any restriction on the duties they can undertake on their return. The Medical Adviser is given full information concerning the member of staff’s job and working conditions in order that the advice given is in the correct context. In some cases, the Medical Adviser will, by agreement, seek the medical opinion of the member of staff’s own doctor or specialist before making a recommendation. - Recommending ill health retirement in cases of chronic illness. 6 SICKNESS ABSENCE INDICATORS FOR FURTHER ACTION - A significant total of absences arising from 3 periods of absence within a 4-month period or 6 periods of absence within a 12-month period. - Unacceptable patterns, e.g., regular Friday or Monday absences or before or after Bank Holidays. - Unacceptable yearly patterns, e.g., same week each year or at busy times such as registration or exams. - notification procedure not followed. - A continuous absence of 4 weeks or more In any of the above situations Managers may decide to discuss their concerns with the individual, closely monitor the absences or establish and maintain regular contact with the member of staff. 7. FREQUENT SHORT-TERM SICKNESS ABSENCES 7.1 The Manager will have an informal meeting with the member of staff to discuss the reasons for the absences. This should include establishing whether any aspect of the job is affecting the health of the member of staff and whether any practical steps can be taken to improve the situation. 7.2 If an informal meeting with the member of staff has not led to an improvement in attendance, the Manager shall hold a counselling interview with the member of staff to discuss his/her sickness absence record. A representative of the Human Resource Division will normally attend such interviews. The purpose of the interview will be to: (a) advise the member of staff of management’s concern regarding his/her sickness absence record (b) seek to identify any contributing factors whereby management may be able to offer advice or support (c) make arrangements for the member of staff to visit the University’s Medical Adviser where this is considered appropriate and is agreed by the member of staff. In each instance, the member of staff will be given the opportunity to be accompanied at this interview by a trade union representative or work colleague. 7.3 Following the counselling interview to discuss the member of staff’s frequent short term absences, the Manager shall arrange to monitor the sickness of the member of staff irrespective of whether a referral has been made to the University’s Medical Adviser. This monitoring will normally involve further review meetings with the member of staff. The review meetings will cease when the absences of the member of staff have fallen to an acceptable level. After an agreed review period, if absence levels have not improved sufficiently, the Manager shall consider taking other appropriate action. This may include invoking the University’s Procedure for Dealing with Capability Issues Relating to Ill-Health - Support Staff or, for Academic and Academic-Related staff, the Procedure for Incapacity on Health Grounds (in accordance with Statute XX). 8. LONG TERM SICKNESS ABSENCE (INCLUDING INDUSTRIAL INJURY ABSENCES) 8.1 If a member of staff has been absent due to illness for an unbroken period of more than 4 weeks, the Manager should contact the member of staff to seek to establish the state of their health and, if possible, when they expect to return to work. However, where, for instance, a member of staff is in hospital or recovering from an operation, such enquiries at this early stage may not be appropriate. 8.2 The Manager should maintain regular contact with the member of staff. In some cases a home visit can help maintain the morale of the member of staff and assist an earlier return to work. Home visits should be made only with the consent of the member of staff. There may be circumstances where it is more appropriate for someone other than the line manager to undertake the home visit. In these circumstances the link HR Business Partner should be consulted. 8.3 Where it is thought necessary to establish the member of staff’s medical position in terms of ability to work as normal, the agreement of the member of staff to a referral to the University’s Medical Adviser should be sought in consultation with the Human Resource Division. This should generally be done as soon as possible once it is realised the absence will be long term and should always be considered for any absence exceeding 6 weeks. This stage is important as any future decisions can only be based on current information about the actual position. 8.4 If the medical advice is that the member of staff is permanently incapable of discharging his/her duties then the procedure set out in 8.6 below should be followed. 8.5 If the University’s Medical Adviser decides that the member of staff should be medically re-assessed, the HR Advisor will, with agreement, refer the member of staff for medical re-assessment. 8.6 Where the University’s Medical Adviser declares that the member of staff is permanently incapable of discharging his/her duties it may be appropriate, depending on the nature of the illness to advise the person to consider ill health retirement. If it is thought helpful, arrangements may be made for the Manager and the HR Business Partner to meet with the member of staff, at their home if preferred. 8.7 Where a member of staff is off work for a long period of time due to ill health this presents a sensitive situation. How long the University can wait before taking action is dependent on several factors, e.g., the importance of the member of staff’s job, the difficulty in continuing with a temporary replacement, the likelihood of the member of staff returning to work in the foreseeable future, his/her length of service. However, there will come a time when decisions in regard to the future will need to be taken. In considering when this juncture has been reached, it will be important to have full regard for the paid sick leave provisions in the relevant conditions of service. The Faculty’s/School’s/Division’s need for the job to be done is obviously an important consideration. In the event of a decision to terminate the employment of the member of staff, the reason given will be his/her inability to discharge efficiently the duties of his/her employment by reason of ill health or infirmity. In this case, reference should be made to the University’s Procedure for Dealing with Capability Issues Relating to Ill-Health - Support Staff or, for Academic and Academic-Related staff, the Procedure for Incapacity on Health Grounds (in accordance with Statute XX). 8.8 Members of staff have the right to be accompanied or represented by a trade union representative, a colleague or by a member of their family at any stage of this process. 9. PHASED RETURN TO WORK AFTER LONG TERM SICKNESS ABSENCE 9.1 Members of staff who have been on long term sick leave may feel that they are unable to return to work on a full-time basis initially. In these cases, the Human Resource Division shall refer the member of staff to the Occupational Hygiene and Safety Service for a medical to establish his/her fitness to return to work and the appropriateness of a phased return. 9.2 In addition to considering requests from members of staff to return to work on a phased basis where this is supported by a medical report, managers should also consider themselves whether a phased return is appropriate. The manager and member of staff should agree a return to work on part-time hours, for a specified period of time, after which it would normally be expected that the member of staff would revert to their full- time/normal hours. 9.3 It should be noted that a medical report must be obtained in all cases as a requirement for consideration of a phased return to work. 9.4 Pay During phasing in period Where a member of staff returns to work on a phased basis for an agreed period of time, the level of remuneration will not be less than that which the member of staff would have received as occupational sick pay. 10. FAILURE TO IMPROVE ATTENDANCE WHERE THERE IS NO UNDERLYING MEDICAL REASON FOR SICKNESS ABSENCE (This section is primarily concerned with continued and frequent short-term sickness absence) 10.1 Where a member of staff (a) fails to improve his/her attendance during the monitoring period following a counselling interview and (b) a referral to the University’s Medical Adviser has established that there is no underlying medical reason why an improvement in attendance has not been achieved, the Manager should meet with the member of staff to discuss the medical opinion, the effect the absence is having on the Faculty/School/Division, and why this cannot be permitted to continue indefinitely. It should be made clear to the member of staff that his/her attendance record is unacceptable and must improve, and that improvement must be maintained. The member of staff should be informed that failure to improve attendance may result in the disciplinary procedure being invoked. Details of this meeting should be recorded in writing to the member of staff. 10.2 If, after a suitable review period, attendance levels have improved to an acceptable level, the member of staff should be encouraged to maintain their improved attendance record. The Manager should regularly monitor and review the member of staff’s attendance. If, after the review period, levels of sickness absence have not improved, the Manager should consider invoking the disciplinary procedure and should discuss this with the HR Advisor. 10.3 Where a disciplinary interview is convened, the member of staff should be reminded that the University’s Medical Adviser has not found any underlying medical reason for his/her poor attendance record. Details of absences, particularly those since the last meeting with his/her Manager, should be emphasised. The member of staff and his/her representative will have the opportunity to respond. 10.4 If a decision is taken that formal disciplinary action is appropriate, normally the member of staff will receive a written warning that unless absences are reduced, further disciplinary action, including dismissal, could result. It must be made clear to the member of staff that they are not being disciplined because they are ill, but because their illness creates untenable operational difficulties for the Faculty/School/Division. A further review period for the member of staff’s attendance to return to a satisfactory level will be determined. At this stage, it is appropriate to request the member of staff to produce medical statements for any period of sickness absence, regardless of duration. 10.5 If, after the review period above there has been no significant improvement in attendance, a further disciplinary hearing will be convened, the member of staff having been reminded beforehand that dismissal may be an outcome. The procedure followed will be in accordance with the University’s Disciplinary and Dismissals Procedure, detailed in the member of staff’s conditions of service. 11. TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT WHERE THERE IS AN UNDERLYING MEDICAL REASON FOR SICKNESS ABSENCE 11.1 Such action will be invoked only after every effort has been made to convince the member of staff, and, if requested, their representative, that a request for ill-health retirement should be made to their superannuation/pension scheme. The University will give every proper assistance to such a request. Where a request for ill health retirement is turned down, the University may still need to take the appropriate action to terminate the employment of the member of staff. In this case, reference should be made to the University’s Procedure for Dealing with Capability Issues Relating to Ill-Health - Support Staff or, for Academic and Academic-Related staff, the Procedure for Incapacity on Health Grounds (in accordance with Statute XX). Updated Apr 06 Code of Practice for Managing Sickness Absence Notification Procedure ON DAY 1 Contact nominated person at the earliest possible time. Complete University self- declaration form and return to nominated person upon return to work (see below) ON DAY 8 Advise nominated person of continuing ill-health. Obtain medical statement covering absence from 8th day onwards and forward to nominated person SUBSEQUENT DAYS Continue to submit medical statements where absence extends beyond period covered by the initial statement. Keep manager informed of progress UPON RETURN TO WORK Submit final medical statement and self- declaration form to nominated person Code of Practice for Managing Sickness Absence Frequent Short-Term Sickness Absences TRIGGERS FOR FURTHER ACTION 3 periods of absence Unacceptable absence patterns 6 periods of absence within a 12 within a 4 month month period period Manager to have informal meeting with member of staff If improvement achieved – manager to If no improvement regularly monitor and review attendance Manager to hold counselling interview with member of staff, plus representative from Human Resources Set a review period. Continue to monitor sickness absences. Hold further review meetings. Consider referral to University’s Medical Adviser. Improvement after review period No improvement after review period. No underlying medical reason for absences. Consider Disciplinary Procedure Code of Practice for Managing Sickness Absence Long-Term Sickness Absence ABSENCE FOR UNBROKEN PERIOD OF MORE THAN 4 WEEKS If appropriate, manager to contact member of staff to establish state of health CONTINUING ABSENCE AFTER 4 WEEKS Manager maintains regular contact with Consider home visit, with consent of member of staff member of staff ABSENCE EXCEEDING 6 WEEKS Consider referral to University’s Medical Advisor, with agreement of member of staff Medical Advisor states that member of staff Medical Advisor states that member of staff should be medically re-assessed – refer for permanently incapable of discharging duties – medical re-assessment, with agreement of if appropriate, advise member of staff to member of staff consider ill health retirement ABSENCE STILL EMPLOYEE RETURNING CONTINUING TO WORK Refer to Procedure for Consider return to work on a Dealing with Capability phased basis Issues Relating to Ill-Health - Support Staff, or Procedure for Incapacity on Health Grounds
"Sickness Absence - Code of Practice for Managing"