Frequent sickness absence refers to when an employee is frequently absent from work for short or long periods of time. This includes short and long-term sickness absence and occasions when an employee leaves work early because they feel unwell. Whilst the University understands that employees may have some sickness absence, it is essential that a pattern of frequent absence is dealt with promptly to meet the requirement for regular attendance as agreed in the employee’s terms and conditions of employment and to ensure the health and wellbeing of all employees.
In the first instance, the Line Manager/Employee Wellbeing Advisor will meet with the employee to discuss their concerns for any frequent sickness absences and to gain an understanding of the reason for frequent sickness absence which could help identify a resolution.
Managers should be aware that the cause of frequent absences can be due to factors in the workplace, ill health or personal circumstances.
In these situations, options discussed may include:
- A referral to Occupational Health - to advise on any appropriate support on health-related concerns
- Stress risk assessment – to identify any workplace stressors
- Contact with Employee Wellbeing Advisor to discuss any other provisions available such as flexible working options, Inspire, leave options
After the line manager or Employee Wellbeing Advisor and the employee have discussed the absences and sought relevant advice, the employee will be invited to an informal meeting with their Line Manager and/or an Employee Wellbeing Advisor to consider options that would better enable the employee to attend work. The employee may be accompanied by a trade union representative/work colleague.
Following the informal meeting, a review of the employee’s attendance will take place on an agreed date to ensure that the required levels of attendance have been achieved. There may be a need for further informal meetings to explore all options to support an improvement in attendance.
Where sickness absence continues to compromise the employee’s ability to fulfil their contractual responsibilities and all options have been exhausted at the informal stage, it may be necessary to take action under the University’s Disciplinary Procedure or Ill Health Capability Procedure depending on the circumstances, which may result in a decision to dismiss the employee. An employee has the right to appeal against decisions made under these policies.