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Managing Sickness, Supporting Working - Guidance for Managers

This webpage provides guidance for managers where employees are unable to attend work due to sickness or need additional support.

This webpage provides guidance for managers where employees are unable to attend work or need additional support in order to remain at work due to ill health. It is advised that you read this guidance document alongside the guidance for employees and familiarise yourself with the sickness absence policy. As a line manager, you should also ensure that employees who report to you are aware of their responsibilities under this policy.

These documents will provide you with an understanding of the rights and entitlements of the employee, whilst giving you information as to how to support them as a manager. Your HR Advisor will be happy to discuss this with you in more detail and answer any queries you may have.

In addition to this guide, you should also read our guidance on managing an employee on their return to work and sickness absence monitoring guidance for managers.

When you are informed by an employee that they are unwell

When an employee is unwell and unable to attend work, they must report their absence by speaking to you directly, no later than 30 minutes prior to their start time (unless other local arrangements have been agreed).

During this conversation you will need to confirm:

  • the reason for their absence

  • the expected duration of the absence and the expected date of return

  • contact details in the event that you or the department need to contact them (this may already be available on iTrent)

  • if the absence is work related, including any accident at work

  • any support they may require to facilitate their return to work

It's important that this conversation is supportive, and that you provide your employee with information about the variety of support services for staff that are available at the University.

Types of absence

To manage the attendance of employees most effectively, all sickness-related absences under the sickness absence policy fall into one of two categories:

Short-term sickness

This absence is defined as sporadic episodes of sickness, normally without an identified underlying health cause.

Long-term sickness

This absence is defined as a period of sickness, normally with an underlying health cause which:

  • normally lasts for more than four weeks continuously, or

  • affects a member of staff periodically with a single diagnosed medical cause linked to a chronic long-term medical condition

Find out more about the procedures for managing short and long-term sickness.

What you need to do when your employee is absent from work

During your employee's period of ill health, you are expected to maintain regular contact with them. You can arrange the frequency of this contact during your initial conversation with them when they first report their absence.

Once you have been informed that a member of staff is unwell, you will need to record their absence by entering the details onto iTrent via Manager Self Service.

Medical certification

When a member of staff is absent for less than seven calendar days, a medical certificate (fit note) is not normally required, as the employee can self-certify their absence. If a member of staff is absent for more than seven calendar days, a medical certificate (fit note) must be provided to you in good time, and cover the period of their absence continuously, without breaks. It's your responsibility to collate this information and upload it to iTrent.

If an employee is too unwell to attend work, the option of homeworking may be discussed if this is considered an appropriate adjustment. However, a member of staff should not decide or request to work from home instead of reporting their absence, and they should not work from home when signed off sick unless there is advice and agreement for this.

Medical Appointments

Medical appointments should, where reasonably practicable, be booked outside of an employee’s normal working hours. Where this is not practicable, paid time off will be granted.

Where medical appointments are in work time, the employee should inform you and provide you with as much advance notice of the appointment as possible. They should ensure that the time of the appointment causes as little disruption as possible to their working day by booking appointments at the start or end of the day where possible.

Sickness absence and annual leave

If an employee is unwell during a period of annual leave, they should inform you of this on the first day of their sickness and provide a fit note which covers the full period of their absence. They will be considered unwell from the date outlined on the fit note. Where this process has been followed, they will be entitled to take the annual leave that fell within their period of ill health at a later date.

If a member of staff travels abroad during a period of sickness absence, they must inform you in advance to explain the reasoning. During this conversation, contact details should be agreed and communication should be maintained throughout the absence. It is important that the employee provides medical certificates for the duration of the absence, alongside a certified translation.

Associated policies and guidance include:

Managing an employee on their return to work

Sickness absence monitoring guidance for managers

Learn more about the University's wellbeing resources on our wellbeing webpage

Flexible working and leave policy

Domestic Abuse: Guidance for Managers and Staff

Capability Procedure

Managing Substance Misuse in Staff and Contractors guidelines

Menopause Guidance for Managers

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