Attendance Management Policy 2023

In this document

1.0 Policy Statement

1.1. This policy sets out our procedures for reporting sickness absence and for the management of attendance management in a fair and consistent way.

1.2. Sickness absence can vary from short intermittent periods of ill-health to a continuous period of long-term absence and have a number of different causes (for example, injuries, recurring conditions, or a serious illness requiring lengthy treatment).

1.3. We wish to ensure that the reasons for sickness absence are understood in each case and investigated where necessary. In addition, where needed and reasonably practicable, measures will be taken to assist those who have been absent by reason of sickness to return to work.

1.4. This policy does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment and it may be amended at any time following consultation. We may also vary the procedures set out in this policy, including any time limits, as appropriate in any case.

1.5. As part of the application of this policy, the organisation will collect, process and store personal data and special categories of data in accordance with our data protection policy. We will comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Legislation (being (i) the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (unless and until the GDPR is no longer directly applicable in the UK) and any national implementing laws, regulations and secondary legislation, as amended or updated from time to time, in the UK and then (ii) any successor legislation to the GDPR or the Data Protection Act 1998, including the Data Protection Act 2018), in relation to how we collect, hold and share special category personal data. Records will be kept in accordance with our GDPR, Data Protection and FOI policy that includes our Workforce Privacy Notice and our Retention and Destruction policy and in line with the requirements of the Data Protection Legislation.

2.0 Scope and Purpose

2.1. The policy has been implemented following consultation with recognised trade unions. It has been formally adopted by the Trust Board and covers all employees at all levels and grades regardless of status.

2.2. The purpose of the policy is to ensure that staff understand the expectations of the organisation in terms of attendance at work. In applying this policy, we aim to ensure that attendance is managed appropriately and consistently and that employees receive relevant support.

3.0 Overarching Principles

3.1 Definitions

3.1.1 Short-term sickness absence – any absence that lasts between half and 20 days (four working weeks).

3.1.2 Long term sickness absence – any absence that lasts for a continuous period of longer than four working weeks.

3.2 Disabilities

3.2.1 We are aware that sickness absence may result from a disability. At each stage of the sickness absence meetings procedure (set out in paragraph 15 of this policy), particular consideration will be given to whether there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to the requirements of a job or other aspects of working arrangements that will provide support at work and/or assist a return to work.

3.2.2 If you consider that you are affected by a disability or any medical condition which affects your ability to undertake your work, you should inform your line manager.

4.0 Responsibilities and Arrangements

4.1 Sickness absence reporting procedure

4.1.1 All employees are required to follow the reporting procedure set out below.

4.1.2 If you are taken ill or injured while at work, you should report this to your line manager. Managers should contact a member of leadership and inform the HR team to make arrangements for anyone who is unwell to be accompanied home AND/OR to receive medical treatment where necessary.

4.1.3 If you cannot attend work because you are ill or injured, you should telephone the nominated person in school or in the case of central staff, the central HR team on the absence line as early as possible and no later than the specified time period agreed by your school/the Trust. This should be no later than 7.30 am. The following details should be provided:

· The nature of your illness or injury.

· The expected length of your absence from work.

· Contact details.

· Any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention, including information in relation to student work that needs covering.

4.1.4 Contacting by text message or email is not acceptable.

4.1.5 Managers should ensure that:

· Any sickness absence that is notified to them is recorded.

· Arrangements are made, where necessary, to cover work and to inform the HR team and colleagues (while maintaining confidentiality).

4.1.6 You should expect to be contacted during your absence by your Headteacher/Line manager, or in the case of a central team member, the Central Director and/or the HR team who will want to enquire after your health and be advised, if possible, as to your expected return date.

4.1.7 If you are ill or injured during a period of pre-arranged annual leave you may elect to treat the days of incapacity as sickness absence instead of annual leave. You must inform your manager of your incapacity and its likely duration as soon as possible even if you are abroad. The usual requirements for self-certification and medical certificates in this policy will apply.

4.2 Evidence of incapacity

4.2.1 For sickness absence of 7 calendar days you must complete a self-certification form.

4.2.2 For absence of more than 7 days you must obtain a certificate (Fit Note) from your healthcare professional stating that you are not fit for work and the reason(s) why. This should be forwarded to your HR team as soon as possible. If your absence continues, further medical certificates must be provided to cover the whole period of absence.

4.2.3 If your healthcare professional provides a certificate stating that you ‘may be fit for work’ you should inform your HR team immediately. We will discuss with you any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate your return to work, taking account of your healthcare professionals advice. This may take place at a return to work interview (see paragraph 4.7). If appropriate measures cannot be taken, you will remain on sick leave and we will set a date to review the situation.

4.2.4 Where we are concerned about the reason for absence, or frequent short-term absence, we may require a medical certificate for each absence regardless of duration. In such circumstances, we will cover any costs incurred in obtaining such medical certificates, for absences of 7 days or less, on production of a doctor’s invoice.

4.2.5 Where an employee is absent immediately prior to a School/Trust closure period, they will continue to be deemed as being absent for the purposes of recording sickness and statutory and/or contractual sick pay during the closure period, unless they provide a fit note indicating they are fit to return to work. The cost of a fit note will be covered by the organisation if applicable.

4.2.6 If you are undergoing an elective or cosmetic surgery or procedure for which you will be absent from work, then any entitlement to sick pay (as set out in paragraph 4.4) will be subject to receipt of satisfactory medical evidence. This medical evidence will need to be in the form of a report from your doctor or a specialist confirming that you are undergoing the procedure on medical advice. You may be required to take annual leave for any absence related to a purely elective procedure.

4.2.7 Where absence appears to be as a result of an infectious disease the Beckfoot Trust reserves the right to obtain medical evidence to ascertain whether the infection was directly attributable to the workplace.

4.3 Unauthorised absence

4.3.1 Cases of unauthorised absence will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

4.3.2 Absence that has not been notified according to the sickness absence reporting procedure will be treated as unauthorised absence.

4.3.3 If you do not report for work and have not telephoned the absence line to explain the reason for your absence, the Headteacher/Central Director or your HR team will try to contact you, by telephone and in writing if necessary. This should not be treated as a substitute for reporting sickness absence.

4.4 Sick pay

4.4.1 You should refer to your contract for details of the sick pay to which you are entitled.

4.4.2 Failure to properly report your absence or to provide medical or self-certification could lead to your pay being suspended.

4.5 Keeping in contact during sickness absence

4.5.1 If you are absent on sick leave you should expect to be contacted from time to time in order to discuss your wellbeing, expected length of continued absence from work and any of your work that requires attention. Such contact is intended to provide reassurance and will be kept to a reasonable minimum.

4.5.2 If you have any concerns while absent on sick leave, whether about the reason for your absence or your ability to return to work, you should feel free to contact your Headteacher/Central Director or the HR team at any time.

4.5.3 We offer access to confidential counselling, through our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

4.6 Medical examinations

4.6.1 We may, at any time in operating this policy, ask you to attend a medical examination by our Occupational Health provider at our expense.

4.6.2 You will be asked to agree that any report produced in connection with any such examination may be disclosed to us.

4.6.3 Failure to agree to a reasonable request may result in decisions being made in the absence of any medical information. In some circumstances disciplinary action may be taken where you do not cooperate with the sickness absence process.

4.6.4 Further medical opinion will be sought in the event of a difference of opinion between an employee’s GP and the occupational health advisors, regarding an employee’s fitness for work, functional capacity or the existence of an underlying medical condition contributing towards persistent absences. In some cases, an independent medical advisor may be asked to give a second opinion.

4.6.5 This process is in line with our Workforce Privacy Notice which sets out how we will gather, process and hold special category personal data of individuals during employment.

4.7 Return-to-work interviews

4.7.1 If you have been absent on sick leave following a period of 1 day’s sickness absence or more we will arrange for you to have a return-to-work interview with your line manager or nominated leader.

4.7.2 A return-to-work interview enables us to confirm the details of your absence. It also gives you the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions you may have, and to bring any relevant matters to our attention.

4.7.3 Where your healthcare professional has provided a certificate stating that you ‘may be fit for work’ we will usually hold a return-to-work interview to discuss any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate your return to work, taking account of your healthcare professionals advice.

4.8 Returning to work from long-term sickness absence

4.8.1 We are committed to helping employees return to work from long-term sickness absence. As part of our sickness absence meetings procedure, we will, where appropriate and possible, support returns to work by:

· Obtaining medical advice.

· Making reasonable adjustments to the workplace, working practices, and working hours, including a time-limited phased return to work.

· A phased return to work will often be a recommendation of an occupational health advisor or the employee’s GP.

· Employees will receive their full pay on the phased return. Phased returns to work should be for a maximum of 4 weeks. In the event an employee requests that the phased return is extended beyond 4 weeks, a dialogue should be held with the employee in regard to a temporary contractual change being made to their working hours to accommodate the request and their pay adjusted accordingly.

· Considering redeployment; and/or

· Agreeing a return-to-work programme with everyone affected.

4.8.2 If you are unable to return to work in the longer term, we will consider whether you are entitled to any benefits under your contract and/or any insurance schemes we operate.

4.9 Sick leave and Annual Leave

4.9.1 If you become sick or injured while on annual leave such that you would be unfit for work, you may ask us to treat the period of incapacity as sick leave and reclaim the annual leave.

4.9.2 To be able to claim company sick pay you must notify your Headteacher/Central Director of your incapacity immediately, and the usual requirements for medical evidence in this policy will also apply, even if you are abroad.

4.9.3 If you are on sick leave you may choose to cancel any pre-arranged annual leave that would otherwise coincide with your sick leave. You should notify your Headteacher/Central Director as soon as possible that you wish to do this.

4.9.4 If your period of sick leave extends into the next holiday year, or if there is not enough time left in the current holiday year to make it practicable to take your remaining holiday entitlement, you can carry any unused holiday entitlement over to the following leave year up to a maximum of 20 days to be used within three months of your return to work.

4.10 Sickness absence meetings procedure

4.10.1 We may apply this procedure whenever we consider it necessary, including, for example, if have been absent due to illness on a number of occasions in line with the following triggers:

· 3 or more occurrences of sickness absence in any 6 month period

· 7 or more days sickness absence in any rolling 12 months

· 4 weeks continuous sickness absence

· Or any other pattern that causes concern.

These triggers should be pro rata for part time employees and consideration should be given to adjusting triggers for employees with a disability. Pregnancy related absences should be discounted when calculating triggers.

4.10.2 Unless it is impractical to do so, we will give you five days written notice of the date, time and place of a sickness absence meeting. We will put any concerns about your sickness absence and the basis for those concerns in writing or otherwise advise why the meeting is being called. A reasonable opportunity for you to consider this information before a meeting will be provided.

4.10.3 The meeting will be conducted by a member of leadership (delegated responsibility by the Headteacher/CEO/COO) and will normally be attended by a member of the HR Team. You may bring a companion with you to the meeting (see paragraph 4.11).

4.10.4 You must take all reasonable steps to attend a meeting. Failure to do so without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If you or your companion are unable to attend at the time specified, you should immediately inform the HR team who will seek to agree an alternative time.

4.10.5 A meeting may be adjourned if the school/Trust is awaiting receipt of information, needs to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at a previous meeting. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the meeting is reconvened.

4.10.6 Confirmation of any decision made at a meeting, the reasons for it, and of the right of appeal will be given to you in writing within five days of a sickness absence meeting (unless this timescale is not practicable, in which case it will be provided as soon as is practicable).

4.10.7 Formal warnings issued for sickness will remain live for a period of 6 months from the date of issue for Stage 1 warnings and a period of 9 months from the date of issue for Stage 2 warnings, during which time further absences beyond the review period would be dealt with either at the next stage of the procedure or by an extension of the current live warning. At a Stage 3 hearing, if the case for dismissal is not established, a formal warning appropriate to the circumstances of the case may be issued. If further absences occur shortly after the end of the period, e.g. 6 or 9 months (or any extended warning), we reserve the right to deal with the matter at the same stage of the procedure and not return to earlier stage.

4.10.8 If, at any time, the Headteacher/Central Director considers that you have taken or are taking sickness absence when you are not unwell, they may refer matters to be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

4.11 Right to be accompanied at meetings

4.11.1 You may bring a companion to any meeting or appeal meeting under this procedure.

4.11.2 Your companion may be either a trade union representative or a work colleague. You should provide their details to your HR team in good time before it takes place.

4.11.3 Employees are allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay to act as a companion. However, they are not obliged to act as a companion and may decline a request if they so wish.

4.11.4 We may at our discretion permit other companions (for example family members) where this will help overcome particular difficulties caused by a disability or difficulty understanding English.

4.11.5 Some companions may not be allowed: for example, anyone who may have a conflict of interest, or whose presence may prejudice a meeting.

4.11.6 A companion may make representations, ask questions, and sum up your position, but will not be allowed to answer questions on your behalf. You may confer privately with your companion at any time during a meeting.

4.12 Stage 1: first sickness absence meeting

4.12.1 This will follow the procedure set out in paragraphs 4.10 and 4.11 on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings.

4.12.2 The purposes of a first sickness absence meeting may include:

· Discussing the reasons for absence.

· Where you are on long-term sickness absence, determining how long the absence is likely to last.

· Where you have been absent on a number of occasions, determining the likelihood of further absences.

· Considering whether medical advice is required or, if already obtained, what that advice is.

· Considering what, if any, measures might improve your health and/or attendance.

· Determining a way forward, action that will be taken and a time-scale for review, and/or a further meeting under the sickness absence procedure.

· Issuing a written warning that your employment may be at risk if your attendance does not improve.

4.13 Stage 2: further sickness absence meeting(s)

4.13.1 Depending on the matters discussed at the first stage of the sickness absence procedure, a further meeting or meetings may be necessary. Arrangements for meetings under the second stage of the sickness absence procedure will follow the procedure set out in paragraphs 4.10 and 4.11 on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings.

4.13.2 The purposes of further meeting(s) may include:

· Discussing the reasons for and impact of your ongoing absence(s).

· Where you are on long-term sickness absence, discussing how long your absence is likely to last (see Paragraph 4.15).

· Where you have been absent on a number of occasions, discussing the likelihood of further absences.

· If it has not been obtained, considering whether medical advice is required. If it has been obtained, considering the advice that has been given and whether further advice is required.

· Considering your ability to return to/remain in your job in view both of your capabilities and the needs of the organisation and any adjustments that can reasonably be made to your job to enable you to do so.

· Considering possible redeployment opportunities and whether any adjustments can reasonably be made to assist in redeploying you.

· Where you are able to return from long-term sick leave, whether to your job or a redeployed job, agreeing a phased return to work programme.

· If it is considered that you are unlikely to be able to return to work from long-term absence, whether there are any benefits for which you should be considered.

· Determining a way forward, action that will be taken and a time-scale for review and/or a further meeting(s). This may, depending on steps we have already taken, include warning you that you are at risk of dismissal.

· Issuing a final written warning that your employment may be at risk if your attendance does not improve.

4.14 Stage 3: final sickness absence meeting

4.14.1 Where you have been warned that you are at risk of dismissal and the improvement has not been made, we may invite you to a meeting under the third stage of the sickness absence procedure. Arrangements for this meeting will follow the procedure set out in paragraphs 4.10 and 4.11 on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings.

4.14.2 The Headteacher/ Central Director should conduct the meeting and arrange for an Executive Head or the CEO to be present at the hearing in case there is a possibility of dismissal. For a member of the central team, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) or CFO (Chief Finance Officer) may hear with an Executive Head and can dismiss.

4.14.3 The purposes of the meeting will be:

· To review the meetings that have taken place, the matters discussed and warnings issued.

· Where you remain on long-term sickness absence, to consider whether there have been any changes since the last meeting under stage two of the procedure, either as regards your possible return to work or opportunities for return or redeployment (see Paragraph 4.15).

· To consider any further matters that you wish to raise.

· To consider whether there is a reasonable likelihood of you returning to work or achieving the desired level of attendance in a reasonable time.

· To consider if ill health retirement is a possibility where medical advice is clear it is unlikely that an employee will be fit to return to their role in the near future.

· To consider the possible termination of your employment.

· Termination will normally be with full notice or payment in lieu of notice.

4.15 When Medical Capability is being considered

4.15.1 If, following advice from Occupational Health, it appears that the employee is unlikely to be able to return to their role within a reasonable period of time, the employee may be asked to attend a Medical Capability Hearing.

4.16 Appeals

4.16.1 You may appeal against the outcome of any stage of this procedure, and you may bring a companion to an appeal meeting (see paragraph 4.11).

4.16.2 An appeal should be made in writing, stating the full grounds of appeal, to the Headteacher/ Central Director or in the case of a dismissal, to the Executive PA to the CEO within five days of the date on which the decision was sent to you.

4.16.3 Unless it is not practicable, you will be given five days written notice of an appeal meeting. In cases of dismissal the appeal will be held as soon as possible. Any new matters raised in an appeal may delay an appeal meeting if further investigation is required.

4.16.4 You will be provided with written details of any new information which comes to light before an appeal meeting. You will also be given a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the meeting.

4.16.5 An appeal hearing will be conducted by a more senior manager/ panel of Trustees, to the individual who conducted the sickness absence meeting, not previously involved in the case.

4.16.6 Depending on the grounds of appeal, an appeal hearing may be a complete rehearing of the matter or a review of the original decision.

4.16.7 Following an appeal, the original decision may be confirmed, revoked or replaced with a different decision. The final decision will be confirmed in writing, if possible, within five days of the appeal meeting. There will be no further right of appeal.

4.16.8 The date that any dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of an appeal. However, if the appeal is successful, the decision to dismiss will be revoked with no loss of continuity or pay.

5.0 Review of Policy

5.1 This policy is reviewed and amended annually by the Executive and in consultation with the recognised trade unions. We will monitor the application and outcomes of this policy to ensure it is working effectively.