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Reporting a sickness absence

How to report your sickness absence to your line manager.


This webpage provides guidance for employees who are unable to attend work due to ill health. We recommend that you also read the University's sickness absence policy.

Your HR Advisor will be happy to discuss the guidance with you in more detail and answer any queries you may have.

Letting your manager know you are unwell

If you are ill and unable to attend work, please follow this process:

  • contact your line manager or appointed deputy within 30 minutes of your usual start time (or as agreed by your Head of Department)
  • your manager will need to know some basic details such as: the reason for your absence, how long you expect to be absent from work, your contact details, whether your reason for absence is work-related
  • continue to keep in contact with your line manager during your period of absence

Your manager is responsible for logging your absence on iTrent via Manager Self Service.

Types of absence

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

Short-term absence

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

Throughout your absence, you should maintain contact with your line manager to keep them updated of your health, and when you feel you may return to work.

Long-term absence

Long-term absence is defined as a period of sickness, usually with an underlying health cause, which normally lasts for more than four weeks continuously. It can sometimes affect a member of staff periodically with a single diagnosed medical cause linked to a chronic long-term medical condition.

We want to support you and if possible help you to return to work after a long-term absence. It's important that you and your line manager keep in contact during long periods of sickness absence.

Find out more about what to do if you are absent with short-term or long-term sickness.

What you need to do when you are absent from work due to ill health

During a period of ill health, it's important to maintain regular contact with your manager. You can arrange the frequency of this during the initial conversation with them when you first report your absence.

If you are unable to make contact for health reasons (such as being in hospital), arrangements should be made for a relative or a friend to contact your line manager and keep them updated.

During your absence, you will need to make your line manager aware of any changes to your expected return-to-work date, send them any relevant medical certificates and attend meetings where appropriate.

Medical certification

If you are absent for less than seven calendar days, there will normally be no requirement for you to submit a medical certificate (a fit note), as you can self-certify your absence. However, there may be occasions where the University requires a fit note for periods of less than seven calendar days.

If you are absent from work for more than seven calendar days, you must obtain a fit note and send this to your line manager. This should be provided in good time and continuously cover your period of absence without breaks. Backdated medical certificates will not be accepted for pay purposes.

Where absences are not reported, or a fit note is not provided to cover a period of absence, it will be considered ‘absence without leave’ (AWOL). This a disciplinary matter and will normally be investigated in line with the University’s Disciplinary policy and procedure.

If you are too unwell to attend work, it's important that you do not decide or request to work from home instead of reporting your absence. You should not work from home when signed off as sick unless there is advice and agreement for this. However, your line manager may discuss the option of homeworking with you, should this be considered an appropriate adjustment.

Medical appointments

Medical appointments should, where possible, be booked outside of your normal working hours. Where this is not possible, paid time off will be granted.

When medical appointments are in work time, you should inform your line manager, providing them with as much notice in advance of the appointment as possible. You should try and minimise disruption to your working day by booking appointments at the start or end of the day where possible.

If you become unwell during a period of annual leave

If you are unwell during a period of annual leave, you may be entitled to take the annual leave that fell within your period of ill health at a later date. However, you must inform your line manager on the first day of your illness, and you must provide a fit note which covers the full period of absence. You will be considered unwell from the date outlined on the fit note.

Sickness overseas

If you are considering travelling outside of the UK during a period of absence, you must notify your line manager in advance and explain the reason for this (if it's for treatment, for example). You will also need to provide your contact details and agree how you will communicate with your line manager while you are overseas.

It's important that you keep in contact with your line manager when you are outside of the UK and that you provide medical certificates to continuously cover your period of absence without breaks. Medical certificates must be provided with a certified translation.

Sick pay

Your entitlement to sick pay is below. This entitlement depends on you following the requirements of the policy and procedure:

Grades 2 to 5

Length of service Period of full pay Period of half pay
After 3 months 2 months 2 months
2 to 3 years’ service 3 months 3 months
4 to 5 years’ service 5 months 5 months
After 5 years’ service 6 months 6 months

Grades 6 to 9

Length of service Period of full pay Period of half pay
First 6 months’ service 2 weeks 2 weeks
6 to 12 months’ service 1 month 1 month
After 12 months’ service 6 months 3 months

Associated policies and resources

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

Sickness absence policy

Flexible working and leave policy

Domestic abuse: guidance for managers and staff

Guidance for employees with menopausal symptoms

Log or close a sickness absence on iTrent

Log or close a sickness absence on iTrent

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