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Short-term sickness absence policy
Read more about managing sickness absence here, and creating a happy and healthy workforce here.
The organisation aims to encourage all its employees to maximise their attendance at work while understanding that from time to time sickness may prevent them attending work for short periods. This policy relates to short-term sickness absences from work, which are defined as those lasting up to one working week. [Other policies are in place dealing with time off work for [personal reasons/family reasons/special leave/compassionate leave/long-term sickness absence].
The organisation must strike a reasonable balance between its business needs and the genuine needs of employees to take occasional short periods of time off work because of sickness. If an employee is frequently and persistently absent from work, this can damage efficiency and productivity, and place an additional burden placed on colleagues.
[It is the organisation’s policy to pay employees their normal basic rate of pay [exclusive of overtime/allowances] during periods of sickness absence of up to [one week]. Payment is, however, conditional upon an employee complying with the organisation’s procedure for notifying his/her manager of the absence, attending an interview with his/her manager on request to discuss the absence, completing a self-certification form on return to work and agreeing to attend an interview/examination with a nominated doctor at the request of the organisation.]
It is the organisation’s policy to pay only statutory sick pay during periods of sickness absence.]
This Policy details what employees must do to ensure that they are able to qualify for SSP in the event that they are ill or injured. It also sets out the procedure that employees must follow in the event they are too sick to work.
Notification And Certification
If the employee is unable to attend work due to sickness or injury, they must arrange to inform their line manager within 30 minutes of the designated start time on the first day of the employee absence, indicating if possible when they expect to return to work. It is not acceptable to send text messages or emails or to ask wives, husbands or friends to call in, nor to notify anyone other than the line manager. Only in exceptional circumstances of medical emergencies will this be considered appropriate.
The employee will be required to provide certification of their sickness or injury absence as follows:
• From the first day of absence to seven consecutive days’ absence, including Saturday and Sunday, they are required to complete a self-certification form, which is available from  and return it. This form can be completed on the return to work if the absence lasts less than seven calendar days. Otherwise, the employee must request a copy form and complete and return it as soon as possible.
• If the employee is absent for more than seven consecutive days (including Saturday and Sunday), they must send a Doctor’s Statement of Fitness to Work (“Fit Note”) to . Subsequent periods of absence must be covered by current Fit Notes. The employee should also keep in regular contact with their line manager regarding their condition and likely return-to-work date.
• In certain circumstances, the organisation may require the employee to provide a Fit Note for a period of sickness absence of less than seven days. Should a cost be incurred, the organisation will reimburse the employee for the cost of obtaining the Fit Note on production of a valid receipt provided by the GP.
If this procedure is not followed, the employee may be dealt with under the organisation’s disciplinary procedure. Furthermore, any entitlement to statutory sick pay (SSP) may be withheld pending investigation. Any payment over and above this will be entirely at the Organisation’s discretion.
Return To Work
The employee will not be allowed to return to work if the GP deems that they are not fit to return or if the existing Fit note is still effective.
If the employee returns to work after a short or long-term period of absence, a meeting will be arranged by their manager in order to:
• check on their fitness to return
• ensure that all the support they need is in place
• bring them up to date on any changes or major events within the organisation.
Where applicable, requests for temporary adjustments to working conditions e.g. hours of work or duties, will be considered by the organisation and accommodated wherever possible and if organisational and business circumstances permit.
Return to work meetings are part of the manager’s day to day people management responsibilities and as such there is no requirement or entitlement to the employee being accompanied at such meetings.
The manager will also take notes of the meeting and a copy will be held on the employee’s personal file. The employee may request a copy at any time.
The employee’s GP might indicate on a fit note that the employee “may be fit for work”. If this option is selected the GP will also identify potential amendments that should be made, selecting from:
• Phased return to work
• Amended duties
• Altered hours
• Workplace adaptations
If a fit note is received, the manager will arrange a meeting with the employee. At this meeting the suggested amendments will be discussed with the aim of facilitating the employee’s return to work.
If the suggested amendments are not possible, the employee will remain on sick leave. If amendments are possible the employee will be able to return to work, but regular reviews will be carried out to ensure that the amendments are adequate. It should be noted that any amendments are not to be viewed as a permanent change to the contract of employment.
The organisation reserves the right to require the employee to be examined by a practitioner of its choice in order to seek a medical opinion.
Access To Medical Reports
In order to gain as much information about the employee’s medical condition as possible, the Organisation may also request their permission to contact the relevant medical practitioner and ask for a medical report on their condition. The employee will be informed of their employee rights under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and/or the Data Protection Act 1998 (if appropriate). The employee may ask to see this report before it is supplied to the Organisation.
If they refuse to give permission for the Organisation to obtain a report or refuse consent to it being supplied to the Organisation, the line manager will arrange a meeting with the employee to explore the reasons for this refusal. If they persist in the refusal, the line manager will explain that decisions made about the employment may be affected by the Organisation’s inability to obtain a report and that it would prefer to base any decision on up-to-date medical evidence.
Frequent Short Term Absence
An informal attendance review will be arranged if the employee’s level of sickness gives rise to concern over the employee’s well-being and ability to perform the employee duties satisfactorily.
A review will take place when the employee absence reaches one of the following trigger points, unless they are disabled and there are agreed alternative reasonable adjustment arrangements in place:
• 5 or more separate short term sickness absences of at least 1 working day in a rolling 12 month period. The cause of such absences may or may not be related.
• a pattern of sickness absences, within any timescale e.g. similar days of the week, month or year.
An attendance review may also be carried out where there is a cause for concern about the employee’s health or sickness record, even though a trigger point has not been reached, in particular if serious disruption is being caused within a team.
If the employee is continually off work through ill-health or injury for an extended period, it will not be possible for the situation to continue indefinitely, and the employee employment may be formally reviewed which could result in it being terminated. Termination will not take place without:
• full consultation and meetings with the employee
• medical investigation if appropriate
• a consideration of alternative employment, if considered appropriate.
During any absence it is important that the employee keeps in regular contact so that the employee’s manager is kept fully informed of their state of health and likely return-to-work date. They may be periodically asked to attend meetings with the manager and HR Manager at the Organisation’s offices, for the purpose of providing information and facilitating an effective return to work.
If they are too unwell or physically unable to attend the office, the Organisation reserves the right to visit them at home and will always discuss and agree arrangements with them (or a family member where appropriate) to visit them at home at a mutually convenient time and date.
If the employee wishes, they may be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative/official. In the case of a meeting at home, they may prefer a family member to be in attendance.
Where applicable, another manager from the Organisation may be invited to attend such meetings in order to act as a witness and note-taker and they will be notified in advance at the time of making the meeting arrangements.
If the employee has or they contract a condition that means they are considered disabled as set out in the Equality Act 2010, the Organisation will consider making reasonable adjustments to the employee’s job to accommodate the employee’s short-term or long-term requirements. They will be fully consulted at all times. If reasonable adjustments or alternative employment prove not to be viable options, and there is no likelihood of a return to work in the near future, a decision to dismiss may be the inevitable outcome.
Dismissal/The Right To Appeal
In the event of a dismissal relating to sickness or injury absence, the employee will be informed in writing of the reason for the dismissal and the circumstances leading up to that decision will be documented. They may appeal against their dismissal by writing within two working days of the employee’s receipt of the dismissal letter to  stating the grounds on which they wish to appeal. The appeal will be heard in accordance with the Organisation’s disciplinary appeals procedure. This right also applies to action short of dismissal such as transfers, demotion and alteration of duties.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
An employee’s SSP qualifying days are either Monday to Sunday or, in the case of part-time employees, those days that he or she normally works. If they are eligible for the payment of SSP, it will be subject to the deduction of tax and National Insurance contributions.
Any payments over and above this are made entirely at the organisation’s discretion.
There are circumstances where the employee’s absence due to sickness or injury will be unpaid, for example, when they have exhausted the employee entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay.
Sickness And Holidays
If the employee falls sick whilst on annual leave or on a day adjacent to annual leave, normal reporting and certification arrangements apply. Annual leave may be reclaimed for the days that they are sick provided that a Fit Note is supplied to cover these days. Medical certificates (or equivalent) issued abroad should be copied and sent to the employee’s manager where the absence is going to be four weeks or longer. The original documents must be supplied on the return to work. If the employee is unable to travel, medical confirmation along with full contact details must be provided.
The Holiday policy details the accrual and taking of holiday during periods of sickness.
Arrangements covering medical and dentist appointments are covered within the Holiday policy. In addition, ante-natal appointments for fathers/partners to be are covered in the Maternity Policy.
Such appointments should not be recorded as sickness absence unless the appointment requires a whole day’s absence.
Pregnancy-related sickness absence should be recorded separately and it should not count towards an employee’s total sickness record.
If they are absent due to a pregnancy-related illness during the four week period prior to the their due date, the Organisation can ask the employee start their maternity leave, and they will be entitled to maternity pay and not sick pay. Odd days of pregnancy-related illness during this period may be disregarded if they wish to defer the start of the employee maternity leave period, and a risk assessment does not indicate that carrying out work will endanger the employee pregnancy.
The Organisation will take all the individual circumstances of every sickness or injury case into account, particularly in relation to the timing of decisions (including a decision to dismiss) although other factors that are time-dependent (such as the exhausting of the Statutory Sick Pay entitlement) may or may not be regarded as influential.
The wording and format of this Policy is for guidance only and does not form part of the employee contract of employment and may be subject to revision and amendment from time to time.
Disclaimer: The recommendations should only be used as guidelines. Please only select the portions that apply to your organisation. Neither the author nor joinair.com will assume legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided in whole or in part within this article.
This template is ready to be tailored to your organisation’s needs and should be considered a starting point for setting up your organisation’s employment policies. Edit the sections in red as appropriate.
Find more free HR company policy templates here, and read more about promoting excellent mental health at work here.