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Long Term Sickness Absence

Long Term Sickness Absence:

Preparation:

Once an employee has reached the 28 day trigger the appropriate line manager will convene a Formal Absence Review meeting. The line manager is responsible for ensuring that an invite letter is sent to the employee at least 5 working days prior to the meeting.

Attendees:

 The line manager may be accompanied by an HR representative.However, not all Formal Absence Review meetings to discuss long term absence require an HR representative to be present. For example, if an employee has a fracture or undergone surgery there is no requirement for an HR representative to be present unless the recovery period becomes longer than the anticipated. The manager would still be required to discuss the absence with the employee and agree any reasonable adjustments to support the employee back to work.

If line managers want to discuss whether an HR representative should be in attendance they should contact the HR Support & Advice Unit on 0141 278 2700 for further guidance.

Review Meetings

Long term attendance review meetings should be arranged with the employee every 4 weeks; this could vary depending on the reason for the absence i.e surgery or if awaiting reports from the Occupational Health Service.

Documentation:

If applicable, any Occupational Health reports including recommendations or reasonable adjustment’s, should be discussed with the employee at the formal absence review meeting.

In addition, where it’s considered that the employee’s absence is the result of a work-related injury, disease or health condition that may entitle them to Injury Allowance the line manager should discuss this with them in advance of them reaching a half pay situation and should refer them to the Board’s Injury Allowance Procedure.  Consideration should also be given to any supporting documentation that may be required including Datix/Health & Safety Incident report form, Occupational Health (see above) advice and details of any other support provided to the employee.

 Following the meeting the line manager will send the employee two copies of the outcome letter asking the employee to respond within 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.

Final Review Meeting:

In accordance with Agenda for Change Terms and Conditions, sick pay for those who have exhausted sick pay entitlements should be reinstated at half pay, after 12 months of continuous sickness absence, in the following circumstances:

  •          staff with more than 5 years reckonable service:- sick pay will be reinstated if sick pay entitlement is exhausted before a final review meeting for long term absence has taken place;
  •          staff with less than 5 years reckonable service:- sick pay will be reinstated if sick pay entitlement is exhausted and a final review does not take place within 12 months of the start of their sickness absence.

Reinstatement of sick pay should continue until the final review meeting has taken place. Reinstatement of sick pay is not retrospective for any period of zero pay in the preceding 12 months of continuous absence.

These arrangements will be in accordance with local sickness absence procedures and will only apply where the failure to undertake the final review meeting is due to delay by the employer. This provision will not apply where a review is delayed due to reasons other than those caused by the employer.

Therefore, an employee on long term sickness absence should be invited to attend a Final Formal Absence Review Meeting prior to exhausting half Occupational Sick Pay. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and facilitate a return to work or if this is not possible the case may be referred to General Manager/ Head of Service to consider the impact of the continuing absence and employment options.

Final Formal Absence Review invite and outcome letter templates are available on HRConnect NHSGGC : Attendance Management Tools & Templates.

 Non-Attendance at Meetings:

An employee will have a maximum of two opportunities to attend a Formal Absence Review meeting. If an employee cancels a meeting they should contact their manager as soon as possible explaining the reasons and offering an alternative time and date that they are able to attend.

If an employee fails to attend two meetings, with no exceptional mitigating circumstances, then the manager should refer this to the appropriate manager for further consideration at a disciplinary hearing due to a breach of the Attendance Management Policy. Furthermore, consideration to withholding Occupational Sick Pay should be given as per letter template Failure to Attend Formal Absence Review Meeting (long term absence) NHSGGC : Attendance Management Tools & Templates.

If an employee states that they are unfit to attend a Formal Absence Review meeting within any NHS location or a home visit then a 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:

Referrals to the Occupational Health Service can be made before or after the long term Formal Absence Review meeting dependant on the reason for absence. The referral should be completed and submitted by the manager overseeing the attendance process. Employees should be advised of the reasons for referral prior to the referral being made.

If the employee is fit to return to work a meeting should be arranged by the line manager with the employee to discuss and agree the phased return and any reasonable adjustments that are to be implemented on a temporary or permanent basis. If the return to work is straightforward then there is no requirement for an HR representative to attend the meeting.

If an Injury Allowance application is being pursued the line manager should ensure this is submitted timeously and that all supporting documentation is included to enable the application to be considered.  For further guidance refer to the Board’s Injury Allowance Procedure.