Staff guidance on sickness absence
The College is committed to ensuring staff wellbeing and does this by:
- ensuring equality of opportunity and by the consistant application of the sickness policy to all staff.
- ensuring adjustments to support staff who have disabilities, where reasonably possible.
- ensuring staff are supported as much as possible with their work-life balance.
- managing sickness absence using the Bradford Index Score.
This guidance has been designed to act as a point of reference. For further details please refer to the full policy which can be downloaded from this page's sidebar.
Frequently asked questions
What are my responsibilities when I am sick?
- When you are unwell, you are required to make contact with your line manager within the first hour of your normal start time. You should confirm the nature of your sickness absence, likely duration and any urgent work which may need to be completed in your absence. You must also agree with your manager how often you will provide an update on your continued sickness absence.
- You must maintain regular contact with your manager during the period of your sickness absence. In cases of long-term sickness absence, you should agree with your manager how often you will provide an update on your recovery and/or duration of your continued absence.
- After each period of sickness, regardless of the duration, you are required to complete a Sickness Absence Notification form when you return to work.
- If you are off sick for eight calendar days or more, you are required to provide your manager with an original sick certificate which is issued by your GP (they are usually called Statement for Fitness for Work). This must be provided to your line manager without delay as it may affect your entitlement to the College’s sick pay.
- If your absence is expected to, or lasts longer than originally anticipated you must ensure that your certificates have no gaps between them (i.e. if your certificate expires on 16th February and your absence is expected to continue beyond this date your next certificate must start no later than 17th February).
- You must also ensure that you do not work elsewhere whilst you are unable to attend your normal place of work.
What am I entitled to when I am unwell and unable to attend work?
- The College’s sick pay entitlement allows you time off work to recuperate or return to work on a gradual basis following sick leave without the added worry of the financial implications of the sickness absence.
- The College will pay sick pay which ranges from one month to six months full pay and followed by half pay of up to six months, dependent on length of service and following the correct sickness procedure.
- The College allows reasonable time off for medical and dental appointments and your line manager may ask to see an appointment card or confirmation of appointment details. Appointments should be arranged at times that will minimise disruption to your work, e.g. at the beginning or end of the normal working day.
- All sickness absence will count as continuous service and staff will continue to accrue their annual leave entitlement during periods of sickness. College closures days cannot be accrued and therefore staff are unable to reclaim these during periods of sickness absence.
- The College sick pay scheme incorporates the provisions of the Statutory Sick Pay Scheme. No combination of payments will exceed normal contractual full pay. Enhanced sick pay benefits are calculated on the first day of each absence and take into account the number of days of sickness absence already taken within the previous 12 months.
Sick Pay Entitlement
- During your first year, one month at full pay and then one month at half pay
- During your second and third year, three months at full pay and then three months at half pay
- During your fourth year and beyond, six months at full pay and then six months at half pay
What are my manager’s responsibilities when I am sick?
- Your manager is responsible for ensuring that you are aware of sickness notification and certification requirements as well as any local sickness reporting arrangements.
- They are also responsible for effectively managing the sickness process.
- To ensure you receive the right level of support and prepare for your return from sick leave. Your manager will liaise with Human Resources or Occupational Health, as appropriate.
- Your manager is responsible for supporting you in returning to work following sickness absence.
- Your manager will also advise you of what support is available to you during your sickness absence, such as referral to Occupational Health or details on the College’s confidential counselling service, Confidential Care.
What types of sickness absence are there and how are they identified?
There are two types of absences – short-term and long-term. Short-term absence is described as being absent from work through sickness or injury on a number of occasions over a rolling 12 month period, or absences which fall into a pattern over the same period.
Long-term is when you have been, or are expected to be absent from work for more than four consecutive weeks.
Managing short-term sickness absence
There are two approaches to managing sickness absence – informal and formal and your manager is responsible for monitoring sickness. The College uses the Bradford score index to assist with monitoring sickness absence levels.
What is the Bradford Score Index and how is it used?
The Bradford Score Index is the total number of days absent multiplied by the number of episodes in the preceding 12 months squared. As examples
- 30 days absence on one occasion is calculated with a Bradford score of 30 (30x(1x1)
- 12 days absence on seven occasions is calculated with a Bradford score of 588 (12x(7x7)
The Bradford score is used to determine if your manager should have an informal discussion with you, i.e. a score of 250. A Bradford score which then increases to 350 or more will trigger a formal sickness meeting.
- Concerns in sickness absence are usually triggered by a score of 250 or more.
- If your manager is concerned about your attendance, they may have an informal 1-2-1 meeting with you to discuss this
- In line with the College’s objective to support you, when dealing with short-term sickness absence, it is hoped that the informal discussion between you and your manager will address the concerns regarding your sickness absence, however your manager will advise you that if there is no improvement the issue may proceed to the formal stage.
- A Bradford score of 350 or more will trigger a formal sickness meeting (see the Bradford Score index at the FAQ above). If you are invited to a formal sickness review meeting, you will receive a letter inviting you to the meeting which also outlines your right to represented by a work colleague or trade union representative and what will be discussed at the meeting. The meeting will normally be chaired by your manager and HR will be present.
- It is normal but not always necessary for an Occupational Health referral to take place prior to a formal meeting. It may be necessary to obtain medical advice beforehand.
- At this meeting you will be asked for your comments on the level of your sickness absence, review any medical advice previously received including details on any workplace adjustments, what further support can be put in place for you in doing your role and/or attending work regularly and finally to discuss the operational impact of your sickness absence.
- There are several possible outcomes of this meeting:
- No further action
- Your manager may decide to issue a formal improvement notice (warning) and the reasons will be outlined in the outcome letter which will follow once the meeting has taken place
Managing long-term or recurring short-term sickness absence
- The process for dealing with sickness absence depends greatly on your individual circumstances.
- When dealing with long-term sickness absence or recurring short-term sickness absence which is or may be caused by an underlying condition, a sickness meeting will be held to review the situation.
- If you do have an underlying condition, you may be invited to one or several sickness review meetings. The purpose of the meeting (s) will be to find out the treatment you are receiving and its effectiveness in assisting with improving your health, the long-term prognosis of your health or wellbeing and sickness absence levels against the operational needs of the department. You will of course be given full opportunity to comment throughout the process.
Workplace adjustments and Disability
- If you have a disability and you make your manager aware of this, they will give careful consideration to any reasonable workplace adjustments that would help working situation.
- If you return to work before an Occupational Health appointment can take place, you should discuss with your manager what interim adjustments (including phased return to work) can be introduced.
- Where it is operationally impractical to implement workplace adjustments for a member of staff who is returning to work following sick leave, further advice must be sought from your Human Resources representative and Occupational Health.
- The College’s information and guidance for managing and supporting disabled staff is available to view.
What happens if my sickness absence continues?
Where you are unable to return to your role, the possibility of redeployment opportunities or medical retirement may be considered by College. If this were to be the case, it would of course be discussed in detail with you.
The College sees the decision to dismiss its staff as a last resort and will only be considered after a Capability Review Hearing.
A Capability Review Hearing is considered when a staff member has received two formal improvement notices (under the formal short-term absence process) or when they have been given opportunities to comment on their fitness to work and/or the likelihood of returning to work. Usually in these circumstances this happens when the medical advice received indicates that the staff member may not be able to return to their post for the foreseeable future and or redeployment (or any of the recommended workplace adjustments) have not been possible.
The purpose of the Capability Review Hearing is for a panel (usually the second line manager and a HR representative) to hear the case and decide whether and for how long the College can support continued employment. One of the outcomes of this meeting can be dismissal.
In these instances, the staff member will be fully briefed on the reasons why a Capability Review Hearing is being arranged and they can be entitled to be accompanied by a work colleague or trades union representative.