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4.1. Sickness Absence Reporting Procedure

4.1.1. If an employee cannot attend work due to ill-health they should notify their manager (or a designated person within the Institution [1]) of their absence by telephone as soon as possible on the first day of absence and, normally, before the start of their normal working day. The following details should be provided:

  • The nature of the illness or injury;
  • The expected approximate length of absence from work;
  • Contact details;
  • Whether the absence may be due to an injury at work or otherwise perceived to be related to work; and
  • Any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention.

[1] Local reporting procedures may apply where it is not possible to follow the sickness absence reporting procedure for operational reasons.

4.1.2. If an employee does not arrive at work and does not notify their manager of their absence, the manager will attempt to contact the employee, either by telephone or letter, to ensure their wellbeing. If an employee is unable to contact their manager personally, in accordance with the required sickness absence reporting procedure, they should make alternative arrangements e.g. ask a family member to call on their behalf.

4.1.3. If an employee fails to notify their manager (or a designated person within the Institution) and does not have a valid reason for not doing so, it may be treated as unauthorised absence and may be dealt with under the relevant disciplinary procedure.

4.1.4. The manager and the employee should maintain reasonable contact whilst the employee is absent from work due to ill-health, taking into account the nature of the absence. Contact between the manager and the employee will usually be by telephone, in the first instance, with the ongoing method of communication then mutually agreed.

4.1.5. Communication should focus on the employee's health and wellbeing, and their return to work including any measures to facilitate a return. Consideration may also be given to any work that requires attention in their absence. If a manager is concerned about being unable to make contact with an employee they should contact the relevant HR Business Manager or their team for advice. Further advice on maintaining contact with an employee while on sick leave is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document.

4.1.6. If an employee is taken ill or injured whilst at work they should report this to their manager as soon as possible. Where necessary, a first aider should be called. If medical treatment is deemed necessary, arrangements should be made to ensure the employee reaches hospital or their doctor safely. The employee's emergency contact should be informed as necessary.

4.1.7. If an employee falls ill whilst on annual leave they should report this to their manager as soon as possible, even if abroad. The usual requirements for self-certification and medical certificates in this policy will apply. For a medically certificated absence, which prevents an employee from carrying out their holiday plans, it would be possible for the employee to arrange to take the annual leave at another time. However, if the occurrence of sickness occurs when the Institution would normally be closed (e.g. during the Christmas period or on a Public Holiday), the absence will be deducted from the employee's annual leave entitlement.

4.2. Submission of Self-Certification Form / Statement of Fitness for Work

Duration of sickness absence
in calendar days

Documentation required from employee

Up to 7 days

Self-certification form (CHRIS 62) must be completed.

8 days or more

A Statement of Fitness for Work (or ‘Fit Note’) must be obtained from a doctor, nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist or physiotherapist (“healthcare professional”[2]).

A fit note will advise that either an employee is unfit for work or that they may be fit for work subject to reasonable adjustments.

[2] This does not include the University Occupational Health Service.

4.2.1. Employees who receive a fit note stating that they "may be fit for work" should inform their manager as soon as possible. When presented with a fit note that contains specific medical advice or recommendations, the manager should discuss this with the employee and seek advice from Occupational Health. This may take place at a return to work discussion, Absence Review Meeting, or other meeting as appropriate. If the suggested adjustments cannot be implemented, the employee will remain on sick leave and a date will be set to review the situation.

4.2.2. Where there is concern about the reason for, or frequency of, the sickness absence, employees may be required to provide a fit note for each absence regardless of duration. In such circumstances, the Institution will cover any costs incurred in obtaining fit notes for absences of a week or less, on production of a healthcare professional’s invoice.

4.2.3. Further advice on fit notes and reasonable adjustments is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document.

4.3. Recording Sickness Absence

4.3.1. All occurrences of sickness absence, including half days, should be recorded on CHRIS by the manager or delegated administrator in a timely manner. The record should include:

  • The reason for the absence (as stated on the self-certification form or fit note); and
  • The length of the absence, including any half-days.

4.3.2. If an employee works part-time and is sick for all of their normal working days that week, the whole week should be recorded as sick leave on CHRIS.

4.3.3. The end date for a period of sickness absence should only be recorded on CHRIS when the individual has returned to work to prevent any overpayment.

4.3.4. Weekends, Public Holidays and rest days are included in a continuous period of sickness absence. Rest days for shift workers are treated in the same way as weekends.

4.3.5. If an employee is only eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and is returning to work on a phased return or part-time basis, the manager should contact the relevant HR Business Manager or their team to discuss any pay implications before recording the sickness absence on CHRIS. Payroll will be able to confirm if an employee is only eligible for SSP.

4.3.6. All information recorded is held and processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

4.3.7. Further advice on recording sickness absence, including what constitutes a half day, is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document.

4.4. Time Off for Medical Appointments

4.4.1. Reasonable requests to attend medical appointments (including dental appointments and any on-going medical rehabilitative treatment) will be granted wherever possible. While managers will try to accommodate such requests, employees should make every effort to organise their attendance at such appointments outside of their working hours where possible. Where this is not possible, every effort should be made to schedule appointments for the beginning or end of the working day. Employees will not normally be required to make up the time taken for routine medical appointments / treatment.

4.4.2. The University acknowledges that employees with on-going health conditions may require on-going treatment and time off from their work to attend medical appointments, which will be accommodated wherever possible. Employees should discuss their need to attend medical appointments with their manager as early as possible. Managers should be aware that such appointments may be difficult for employees and requests should be managed in a caring and supportive manner and additional sources of support offered as required. Further advice on sources of support is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document. There are additional considerations where the health condition may be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Guidance should also be sought from the relevant HR Business Manager or their team.

4.4.3. Where the manager has a concern about the frequency of time off requested by an employee to attend medical appointments, the presentation of appointment cards, or equivalent, may be required.

4.4.4. Occupational Health appointments will always be held during the employee's normal working day. Counselling Service appointments that have been made at the request of the University will be held during the employee's normal working day wherever possible.

4.4.5. Please refer to the Special Leave Policy for details about requesting time off for elective surgery. Elective surgery is surgery that is not considered to be medically necessary, including cosmetic procedures through surgical and medical techniques.

4.5. Occupational Sick Pay

4.5.1. The University pays occupational sick pay to eligible individuals in accordance with the tables and service requirements shown below. All payments will be inclusive of any SSP due, in accordance with applicable legislation in force at the time of sickness absence.

All Research, Academic and Academic-Related staff employed on or after 1 January 2004 and all Assistant staff irrespective of start date:

Period of unbroken service

Sick leave with pay

At a rate equal to normal pay

At a rate equal to half normal pay

Less than 1 year

8 weeks

8 weeks

1 or more years but less than 3 years

12 weeks

12 weeks

3 or more years but less than 5 years

20 weeks

20 weeks

5 or more years

26 weeks

26 weeks

All Research, Academic and Academic-Related staff employed before 1 January 2004:

Period of unbroken service

Sick leave with pay

Less than 1 year

Month 1


Months 2—4


Months 5—8


1 or more years

Months 1—6


Months 7—12

100%, subject to review

Months 13—14


Months 15—18

50%, subject to review

4.5.2. The amount of paid sick leave already taken at any time in the year (i.e. 365 days) immediately prior to the date on which a period of sickness absence begins will be taken into account when calculating the amount of sick pay due to you.

4.5.3. The University will pay SSP to eligible employees who comply with the relevant statutory rules relating to sickness absence. Information on SSP eligibility can be found at:

4.6. Return to Work Discussions

4.6.1. Where an employee has been absent from work due to ill-health, the manager is encouraged to hold a return to work discussion in line with their duty of care towards the employee. This is particularly important where an employee has been off sick for a number of days consecutively or the cumulative amount of absence is considered to be having an impact on the work area and service provision.

4.6.2. A return to work discussion gives the opportunity to:

  • Welcome the employee back from sickness absence;
  • Confirm the details of the absence and arranging for the CHRIS 62 to be completed;
  • Identify any support that is required to ensure the employee's successful return to work, including discussing any measures that may have been recommended in a fit note;
  • Update the employee on work progress and events that took place during the period of their absence;
  • Allow the employee to raise any concerns or questions and bring any relevant matters to the University's attention; and
  • Identify any underlying causes of the sickness absence and discussing an Occupational Health referral, if not already arranged.

4.6.3. During the return to work discussion, issues may be identified (such as those of a newly acquired disability, health condition or changed personal circumstances) that require action on the part of the University and/or the employee. If assistance is required in managing these issues please contact the relevant HR Business Manager or their team or Occupational Health where appropriate.

4.6.4. If the frequency, pattern or level of sickness absence is of concern, a separate Absence Review Meeting should be scheduled.

4.6.5. Further advice on conducting a return to work discussion is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document.

4.7. Frequent Short-Term Sickness Absence

4.7.1. Frequent short term absence refers to when an employee is frequently absent from work for short periods of time due to ill-health. This type of absence can be particularly difficult for Institutions and employees as they are usually without notice and it is difficult to plan for their impact. Whilst the University understands that employees may have some short-term sickness absence, it is essential that frequent short-term absence is dealt with promptly and consistently, with appropriate support, to ensure the smooth running of the Institution.

4.7.2. Understanding the reasons for frequent short-term absence helps identify a resolution. Referral to Occupational Health may assist this. Please refer to the Occupational Health Referral section for further details. The cause must be correctly identified in order to put in place an appropriate course of action to remedy it. Managers should also be aware that frequent short-term absence might be caused or exacerbated by factors in the workplace. If a workplace issue is identified, appropriate steps should be taken to address the factor that is contributing to the problem wherever possible. The relevant HR Business Manager or their team can provide advice where required.

4.7.3. Managers are advised to take positive steps to monitor and manage frequent short-term absences. If an employee frequently has short-term absences it may be appropriate to hold a formal Absence Review Meeting. Further advice on managing frequent short-term absence is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document.

4.8. Long-Term Sickness Absence

4.8.1. A prolonged period of sickness absence is considered to be long-term and the employee concerned should be invited to attend an Absence Review Meeting. Employees may be absent on long-term sick leave for a variety of reasons (e.g. injury, operation, convalescence from illness, diagnosis of a long-term disability, terminal illness etc.) and any action taken will vary according to the circumstances of the particular case.

4.8.2. The University is committed to supporting and helping employees return to work from long-term sickness absence. As part of the Sickness Absence Review Process, the University may:

  • Obtain medical advice and discussing this with the employee (e.g. early referral to Occupational Health);
  • Make reasonable adjustments to the workplace (e.g. working practices and working hours);
  • Consider redeployment support; and/or
  • Agree a return to work programme, which may include a phased return to work.

4.8.3. Employees on long-term sick leave should agree with their manager how contact should be maintained on a regular basis, for example, by telephone, email or letter. The timing and nature of contact will be appropriate to the situation of the employee and their health condition. However, employees should expect to be contacted by their manager from time to time and it is generally expected that telephone or personal contact will be made at least every four weeks. Further advice on contacting employees while they on sick leave is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document.

4.8.4. Where there is an indication that work related matters may have contributed to the absence, an early referral to Occupational Health will usually be made for advice on the employee's fitness for work and likely date of return. Occupational Health can offer support to the individual as well as the possibility of access to further support services to assist recovery and return to work.

4.8.5. Following a period of long-term sickness absence, a phased return to normal working hours is sometimes recommended. A phased return should normally be for a period of no more than six weeks and would be on full pay. Appropriate support should also be provided to the returning employee during this time to facilitate their return. Further advice on phased returns and the other appropriate support is provided in the Sickness Absence Guidance document.