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Frequent Sickness Absence

Frequent Sickness Absence:

Preparing for a Formal Absence Review meeting:

On reaching a trigger point the appropriate line manager will arrange to meet with the employee to discuss their level of attendance for the previous 12 month period. The line manager is also responsible for ensuring that an Formal Absence Review invite letter is sent to the employee at least 5 working days prior to the meeting. This letter will detail the absences as recorded on SSTS or from a timeline of absences including reasons and highlight any other attendance related issues (letter template available on HRConnect: NHSGGC : Attendance Management Tools & Templates).

Attendees

An HR Representative will not routinely attend Formal Absence Review meetings regarding frequent absences.

Supporting Documentation:

An SSTS print-out or a timeline of absences including reasons and any other relevant information should be discussed with the employee to ensure that the reasons and circumstances surrounding each episode of absence are fully explored and understood. If applicable, any Occupational Health reports should also be discussed with the employee. Previous support measures should be reviewed and any additional support measures required explored further.

The line manager should make any relevant notes to ensure all the pertinent points are included in a Formal Absence Review outcome letter. The outcome letter will detail the discussion that took place at the meeting, including any discrepancies with recorded dates of absence and the outcome decision (letter template available on HRConnect: NHSGGC : Attendance Management Tools & Templates).

The line manager will send the employee two copies of the outcome letter requesting that the employee responds with any amendments within five working days of the date the letter was sent. A signed copy of the letter will then be retained in the employee’s personal file. If an employee does not request any amendments or return a signed copy the original outcome letter will be accepted as a true reflection of the discussion.

Non-Attendance at Formal Absence Review meetings:

An employee will have a maximum of two opportunities to attend a Formal Absence Review meeting. Although, when scheduling meetings line managers should ensure that the employee does not have planned leave or off-duty. If an employee is unable to attend the meeting they should contact their manager at the earliest opportunity, explain the reasons and offer an alternative time and date they are able to attend. If an employee fails to attend two meetings, with no exceptional mitigating circumstances, the line manager should refer this to the next in line manager for further consideration at a disciplinary hearing due to a breach of the Attendance Management Policy.

If an employee states that they are unfit to attend a Formal Absence Review meeting within any NHS location or a home visit a management referral should be made to the Occupational Health Service. The Occupational Health Practitioner will be able to provide an indication of when the employee will be fit to attend a Formal Absence Review meeting and provide information on health status.

Outcome:

There are only two potential outcomes from a Formal Absence Review meeting:

  1.       The employee’s level of attendance will continued to be monitored on an ongoing basis.
  2.       The employee’s attendance record, Formal Absence Review outcome letter(s) and any other appropriate supporting documentation are forwarded to the next in line manager for further consideration at a disciplinary hearing.

Disciplinary Hearing:

Referral:

If the line manager has concerns regarding the employee’s level of attendance they should refer the case to their next in line manager. The line manager will provide the next in line manager with a copy of the Formal Absence Review outcome letter and any other relevant information, including SSTS printouts or timeline of absences including reasons, any recent Occupational Health reports and all completed Return to Work forms.

The next in line manager should carefully consider whether the case merits referral to a disciplinary hearing taking into consideration the reasons for the absence and the discussions from the Formal Absence Review meeting including any support offered/ implemented. If the next in line manager does not feel it appropriate for the case to be further considered at a disciplinary hearing a letter should be sent to the employee advising of this and that there needs to be a considerable improvement in attendance levels (letter template available on HR Connect: NHSGGC : Attendance Management Tools & Templates).

Attendees:

The next in line manager will convene a disciplinary hearing to consider the information submitted by the manager who conducted the review meeting. The line manager who conducted the Formal Absence Review meeting is in attendance at the disciplinary hearing to present the reasons for referring to a disciplinary hearing. The employee is also entitled to submit information to support their case.

The next in line manager chairing the disciplinary hearing will be supported by an HR representative.  The presenting manager will not routinely be supported at the hearing by an HR representative unless this is specifically requested and HR support was provided at the Formal Absence Review Meeting.

Outcome:

The outcome of the disciplinary hearing may result in the employee being issued a disciplinary sanction by the panel chair. If it is not possible to deliver an outcome at the disciplinary hearing, a decision will be confirmed in writing within 5 working days as per policy.

The disciplinary chair will draft the outcome letter with support from the HR Representative. It is important the letter clearly details the rational for the sanction being given. The letter should also highlight the consequences of any further episodes of absence within the timeframe of the sanction.

The disciplinary chair will send the employee two copies of the outcome letter asking the employee to respond within any amendments within 5 working days of the date the letter was sent. If requested, a copy of the letter will also be sent to the employee’s staff side representative.

The employee has the opportunity to appeal any sanction given within 2 working weeks of receipt of the hearing outcome letter. The agreement of the accuracy of the letter is separate from the right of appeal.

A signed copy of the disciplinary outcome letter will then be retained in the employee’s personal file. If an employee does not request any amendments or return a signed copy the original outcome letter will be accepted as a true reflection of the discussion. Once the timescale has exhausted the letter must be removed and destroyed.

Potential Dismissal:

For any attendance cases that are being referred for consideration at a disciplinary hearing that may result in dismissal, a management statement of case should be prepared by the line manager with support from an HR representative. The management statement of case will be submitted to the appropriate manager with authority to dismiss as per the scheme of delegation.

The management statement of case will be presented at the disciplinary hearing by the appropriate manager. The presenting manager will not routinely be supported at the hearing by an HR representative unless this is specifically requested. However, the panel chair will be supported at the disciplinary hearing by an HR representative.

Further Episodes of Sickness Following a Disciplinary Hearing:

If the level of attendance continues to cause concern this should be highlighted at the Return to Work discussion.

In the event a disciplinary sanction is still live the manager should convene a further Formal Absence Review meeting. Unless there are any exceptional mitigating circumstances the manager should advise the employee that as per the conditions of the warning, the attendance record and any relevant information will be forwarded to another manager for further consideration at a disciplinary hearing.Managers can contact HR Support & Advice Unit on 0141 278 2700 for advice on whether it is appropriate for the case to be referred to a further disciplinary hearing

If the line manager has continued concerns regarding the employee’s level of attendance they should refer the case to an independent manager who was not involved in the previous disciplinary or senior manager depending on the individual case, reasons and frequency of sickness absence.

The line manager would provide the disciplinary chair with copies of the recent attendance management meeting outcome letter and previous disciplinary hearing outcome letter, if still live at the time of the breach.

In the event that the sanction has expired, and particularly if there has been a time lapse the line manager should invite the employee to attend a Formal Absence Review meeting.