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Returning to work after a period of ill health

The process you should follow when returning to work after a period of sick leave.

Return to work discussions

Before you return to work following a period of ill-health, you should arrange to speak to your line manager.

Your line manager will have recorded the start date and the reason for your absence on iTrent via Manager Self Service. When you return to work, you need to close the absence by following these instructions via Employee Self Service on iTrent:

  1. Log into Employee Self Service using your normal University username and password on the day you return to work.
  2. Select ‘End a sickness absence’.
  3. Enter an end date.
  4. Click ‘Save’ at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Your manager will be sent details of the absence ending.

Your line manager will then arrange a return-to-work meeting as soon as possible to discuss your absence. This is a supportive meeting and will provide you with an opportunity to raise any concerns that you have and discuss any support you might need.

A return-to-work discussion will normally take place after every absence, regardless of its length. However, the nature of the meeting may differ depending on circumstances such as:

  • when you return from a short-term absence and you don’t have an underlying health condition, a short conversation will normally be appropriate
  • if you are currently under sickness absence monitoring, your manager may carry out a more structured interview
  • if you are returning from a longer period of absence or have an ongoing health condition, a more structured return-to-work meeting will normally take place

It's important that during your return-to-work meeting, you inform your manager of any medical conditions, changes in circumstances, or recommendations made by your GP that could support your return to work. Your GP should have outlined any recommendations on a medical certificate.

If you are concerned about your health

If you have an underlying health condition or disability that is impacting you at work, it's important to make your line manager aware so they can seek the appropriate advice and identify what support you might need.

How to correct a spell of sickness

Your manager can arrange for this to be done by contacting HR and requesting that iTrent is corrected.

If your manager is concerned about your levels of attendance

Where there are concerns about your level of attendance, your line manager will arrange to meet with you to discuss this in a confidential setting. This will normally be a supportive and informal meeting. It may form part of a return-to-work meeting or be held separately.

Your line manager is expected to arrange a meeting with you to discuss your attendance if you have had five absence occasions or 12 days of absence (pro rata for part time employees) in a 12 month rolling period. However, they may arrange a meeting with you before this if they are concerned about your health or level of attendance.

This meeting will provide an opportunity for you to discuss any issues that are impacting on your health or ability to attend work. Your manager will seek to promptly and sensitively establish the facts regarding your sickness absence. The nature and extent of this discussion will depend upon your specific circumstances and may be simply the gathering of information relating to your absence.

Reasonable adjustments

While most people are able to work without the need for any adjustments to be made to their working arrangements, some may need the extra support.

Support may be required when:

  • you have been absent with a condition that impacts on your capability to carry out particular work activities
  • you have been suffering from serious, long-term physical or mental ill health
  • you have had surgery or an extended stay in hospital
  • you have a new disability or a new restriction to your physical capability
  • you will continue to need treatment for your illness following your return to work

If your doctor has indicated that you require adjustments in returning to work, you should inform your manager promptly so that consideration can be given to any assistance you may need. They may review any recommended adjustments as part of your return-to-work meeting or as part of the long-term sickness absence procedure. Depending on the circumstances, your manager may seek your consent in order to refer you to Occupational Health.

As your individual circumstances will be unique, your manager will involve you in these discussions and you will be consulted on any proposed adjustments before they are finalised. Your manager may wish to complete an agreement for adjustments form with you. This will ensure that your needs, as well as the needs of the departmental operation are met. When organising your return to work, it is essential that everyone involved in the process has a shared understanding of what is required, where the responsibility lies, and the timeframe for implementation.

Phased return to work

Your doctor may recommend that you have a phased return to work and that you temporarily have amended duties or hours. Where this is the case, you are required to provide a fit note confirming this and will need to discuss the details of your return to with your line manager. The University will normally support employees with a phased return to work of up to a maximum to four weeks. If adjusted hours or duties are required for longer than four weeks, you should discuss this with your line manager.

Occupational Health

If you have been absent for more than four weeks or have a health condition that is likely to have an ongoing impact on you while you are at work, it may be appropriate to refer you to Occupational Health, who can provide advice on a range of areas including (but not limited to):

  • the potential impact that a medical condition may have on your ability to attend work or carry out your duties
  • timescales for a return to work
  • if workplace adjustments may be deemed appropriate

If you are unable to return to work

If you are not well enough to return to your current role, or your attendance is not sustainable and all reasonable adjustments have been considered, the University will make every reasonable effort to support you in being redeployed to another vacancy.

You are expected to play an active role in identifying any suitable redeployment opportunity and would have priority status under the redeployment process. If you are redeployed to another position, a trial period of four weeks will normally be applied to assess whether the position offered is appropriate and you can perform the duties required. If the new post being trialled is at a lower grade, you will remain on the salary of your previous position for the period of the trial and then move onto the lower salary of the redeployment post from the end of the four week trial period.

You may be eligible for ill health retirement. The process will vary depending upon which pension scheme you are in and any application for ill health retirement would need to be supported by Occupational Health.

There will be some occasions where, despite the efforts of all parties involved, it is not possible for an individual to continue working in their current role and neither redeployment nor ill-health retirement are possible.

If all alternative options have been considered and determined unsuccessful, unreasonable, unavailable, ineffective or inappropriate, your manager may consider − with support from HR − whether to refer the situation to a formal meeting. The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether your employment should end due to incapability due to ill-health.

Associated policies and resources

Guidance on how to report a sickness absence

Learn more about the University's wellbeing resources available to staff

Flexible working and leave policy

Domestic abuse: guidance for managers and staff

Guidance for employees with menopausal symptoms

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