Sickness Absence Policy
This Sickness Absence Policy is intended to assist employers in managing sickness-related absence fairly and effectively.
The policy explains the review processes for frequent short-term sickness absence and for long-term sickness absence, with defined trigger points for each stage of the procedure. The two processes in this Sickness Absence Policy are intended to operate in parallel. This means that employee sickness absences will be managed under one or other process.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the following temporary variations to this policy apply:
1. Please note that employers should adapt the absence triggers in their short-term sickness absence policy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and exclude absences when an employee is in self-isolation because:
· The employee or someone they live with has, or is displaying symptoms of, coronavirus;
· The employee has been given medical advice to self-isolate; or
· The employer has asked the employee to self-isolate.
2. Under emergency legislation, employees are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if they:
· Self-isolate in order to "prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales"; and
· are unable to work because they are self-isolating.
In addition, SSP should be paid from the first day of sickness (rather than after three waiting days) where:
· the employee's period of incapacity for work is related to coronavirus; and
· the first day of incapacity for work in that period is on or after 13 March 2020.
3. Employers should not ask for a fit note for sickness absence of more than seven calendar days' absence but can ask an employee in self-isolation for an isolation note from NHS 111 or, if they are "shielding", for a letter from the NHS advising the employee to do this.
Employers are not expected to continue to employ an employee on long-term sick leave or with a record of frequent sickness absences indefinitely, and this Sickness Absence Policy establishes a procedure to allow employers to take action, up to and including dismissal, against an employee.
Lack of capability, including incapability related to ill health, is a potentially fair reason for dismissal but, for an incapability dismissal of an employee to be fair, the dismissal has to fall into the "band of reasonable responses". This means an employer must investigate the reasons for the employee’s sickness absence and give the employee an opportunity to improve his or her attendance record before action is taken.
This policy includes the following sections:
3. Notification of sickness
4. Certification of sickness
5. Maintaining contact during sickness absence
6. Return to work interviews
7. Sick pay
8. Sickness which occurs whilst the employee is on holiday
9. Medical advice
10. Frequent absence sickness review process – Stage 1 meeting
11. Frequent absence sickness review process – Stage 2 meeting
12. Frequent absence sickness review process – Stage 3 meeting
13. Part time employees
14. Long term sickness absence – Stage 1 meeting
15. Long term sickness absence – Stage 2 meeting
16. Long term sickness absence – Stage 3 meeting
17. Pregnancy-related absences
18. Elective and/or cosmetic surgery
19. Work arrangements when absent
20. Data Protection
For a policy covering sickness and other types of absence, see the separate Sickness and Absence Policy.
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