Human Resources

Sickness Absence Policy pdf format

1 Purpose of policy

1.1    The aim of this policy is to ensure that all staff understand their roles and responsibilities relating to sickness absence and that it is managed in a consistent, supportive, and effective way to maintain operational and service levels.

2 Statement of intent

2.1    Birkbeck is committed to promoting the health, safety, and wellbeing of its staff.

2.2    The purpose of the interventions outlined in the procedural sections of this policy including return to work discussions and the various initial review meetings are to help to improve attendance and to resolve absence issues, with the staff member’s health and any other associated problems discussed openly in a supportive way, with a view to addressing issues at the earliest possible stage.

3 Scope

3.1    This policy applies to all staff with a contract of employment and is in line with ACAS guidance. 

4 Occupational Health Assessments

4.1    If the College has concerns about a staff members’ sickness absence, that person may be referred by their line manager for independent medical assessment by an occupational health practitioner.

4.2    Birkbeck’s occupational health provider gives professional advice on health issues at work and health assessments to:

  • advise on fitness for work with a view to supporting staff to continue at work;
  • advise on reasonable adjustments;
  • facilitate rehabilitation for staff returning to work following a period of ill health; and
  • advise on health capability issues.
4.3    Staff who are asked to attend an appointment with an occupational health practitioner will receive a copy of the medical report, prior to their line manager.  Their line manager will then arrange a follow up meeting to discuss the findings.

4.4     Where staff are absent due to stress or anxiety, the line manager must refer them to Active Care, for guidance and advice on relevant support mechanisms. Active care is a service offered by Health Assured, the College’s Employee Assistance Programme. Any such referral must be made within five calendar days of the first day of absence. Such a referral can only be made with the employee’s consent

4.5     Where staff are absent on the grounds of stress, and work-related stress is a contributing factor, the employee will need to undertake a stress risk assessment.  

4.6    If absence on the grounds of stress exceeds one week the member of staff will be referred to occupational health or the Employee Assistance Programme as a matter of course.

5 Disability related absences

5.1    In the application of this policy, managers are required to familiarise themselves with and cross-reference as appropriate to the College’s Guidance on Staff Disability at Birkbeck (Incorporating Code of Practice). As per the Code and the specific commitment therein to work to retain staff with disabilities, the management of attendance issues relating to disability may, as appropriate to individual circumstance, include:
  • the accessing of specialist and/or medical advice e.g. via Access to Work or occupational health; 
  • the making of reasonable adjustments to jobs, to equipment, and/or processes;
  • exploring flexible working options;
  • consideration of redeployment.

The framework for such discussion and consideration will include the review procedures as outlined within this policy in addition to other welfare related conversations between managers and their staff.

5.2         Sickness absence that is related to a disability or a statutory reason for being unable to attend work e.g. a global pandemic, will be recorded in the same way as other sickness absence. Sufficient detail should be provided to distinguish this absence as an absence related to a disability/statutory reason. This will allow for appropriate consideration to be applied, whenever that absence is reviewed either independently or alongside other sickness absence, as part of the process steps outlined within this policy. 

5.3         Attendance at disability related medical appointments will be noted locally by line managers but will not be recorded as sickness absence.

5.4         Guidance on making reasonable adjustments is available for managers and staff within the Guidance on Staff Disability at Birkbeck (Incorporating Disability Code of Practice) and through Human Resources, who should be involved in advising on cases relating to disability-related absences and adjustments.

6 Sickness absence notification requirements

6.1    Staff are responsible for notifying the College of their sickness absence and in the event of the following process requirements not being followed any such absence may be considered as unauthorised and could therefore be subject to disciplinary action. However, it is acknowledged that there may be exceptional circumstances which prevent a member of staff from meeting the reporting requirements, for example, in the case of a severe injury/hospitalisation and each case will be considered on its merits before action is taken.

6.2    On the first day of sickness absence staff are required to notify their manager as soon as possible and by no later than one hour after their designated start time. They should provide the following information:

  1. the reason for the absence; and
  2. the expected duration of sickness absence where this is known.
6.3    On the fourth calendar day of sickness absence, if there has been no contact in the intervening period, staff must again contact their line manager to provide an update.

6.4    In cases of sickness absence lasting 8 calendar days or more, a ‘fit note’ from their G.P. is required (see section 7) and they should maintain regular contact with their line manager, normally weekly or longer by agreement with their line manager.

7 Sickness absence recording and certification requirements

7.1         Staff are responsible for providing certification statements, as set out at paragraphs 7.3 to 7.5, to their line manager. If certification requirements are not complied with, staff may not be eligible for either Statutory Sick Pay or Occupational Sick Pay, where it applies (see Section 8).  However, it is acknowledged that there may be exceptional circumstances, which prevent a member of staff from meeting the certification submission timeline requirements, for example, in the case of a severe injury/hospitalisation, and each case will be considered on its merits before Occupational Sick Pay is withheld.

7.2         If staff become unwell whilst at work and need to leave before completing two hours of work (pro rata for staff who work less than 7 hours per day) the absence will be recorded as a full day’s sickness absence.

7.3         For the first 7 calendar days of continuous sickness absence (i.e. which include non-working days), there is no requirement to obtain or to provide medical certification for the period of sickness absence. The staff member will self-declare their absence, meaning that they inform the College that they are not well enough to work (see Section 6).

7.4         For sickness absence that exceeds 7 calendar days (including non-working days) staff must provide a fit note. This is a medical certificate used by GPs to confirm that someone is 'not fit for work', or 'may be fit for work' based on adjustments such as a phased return to work or amended duties for a specified period.

7.5         If a fit note is not submitted by the twelfth calendar day of sickness (including non-working days) the College may withhold or suspend sick pay.

8 Sick pay

8.1         Birkbeck’s Occupational Sick Pay scheme provides an enhanced benefit to staff exceeding any statutory entitlement. Sickness payments incorporate Statutory Sick Pay and are calculated on a rolling year basis taking account of periods of sickness in the preceding 12 months from the first day of the current period of sickness absence.

8.2         Birkbeck’s contracts of employment indicate whether staff are eligible to receive Occupational Sick Pay. Typically, this benefit is provided to staff with ‘employee’ contractual status, but not always to those staff engaged as ‘workers’.

8.3         Subject to staff having followed the notification and certification requirements set out in Sections 6 and 7 of this Policy, the College will pay the following Occupational Sick Pay:

  • during the first 6 months of employment - 2 weeks full-pay and 2 weeks half-pay;
  • after 6 months’ and up to 3 years’ employment - 13 weeks full-pay and 13 weeks half-pay;
  • during the 4th and subsequent years of employment - 26 weeks full-pay and 26 weeks’ half-pay.
8.4         The College will continue to maintain the full employer pension contributions and staff will continue to pay their full employee pension contributions when the staff member moves to half pay. It is not possible to pro-rata pension contributions.

8.5         Staff on nil sick pay can still benefit from pension contributions from the College during the period of nil pay. Staff need to confirm to their line manager that they will repay their employee pension contributions to the College once they are back to work. The College cannot maintain its employer pension contributions without the employee maintaining their contributions.

8.6         Staff on half or nil sick pay can opt to use their outstanding annual leave entitlement, in order to receive full pay. The employee will remain on sick leave under this sickness absence policy during this period, and their annual leave entitlement will be reduced accordingly.

8.7         Where a member of staff’s length of service increases during a period of sickness absence they will receive the maximum sick pay benefits that applied on the first day of the current period of absence.

8.8         Staff who are in receipt of insurance payments or any other externally provided benefits relating to illness or injury are required to notify the College of these benefits which will be deducted from any Occupational Sick Pay or reclaimed by the College.  A failure to disclose such benefits could result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

8.9         The College maintains the right to withhold or suspend Occupational Sick Pay in situations when:

  • the notification of sickness absence procedures and certification requirements have not been adhered to;
  • any recommended treatment has not been followed;
  • absence is recurrent and short-term and becomes a disciplinary matter;
  • sickness absence follows notification of a disciplinary hearing or a Health Capability Hearing, investigation, or review;
  • there is a failure to co-operate with, or abuse of, the Sickness Absence Staff Policy and procedures.
8.10       Written notice, including the reason for doing so, will be given in any instance when Occupational Sick Pay is intentionally withheld or suspended by the College.

8.11       The College will take all due care to ensure that overpayments do not occur as a result of the benefits under the Occupational Sick Pay scheme having been exhausted, however, should an overpayment occur the overpayment amount will be reimbursed to the College by deduction from the following months’ pay or at an agreed rate. 

8.12       Statutory Sick Pay is paid in accordance with UK legal regulations and is included in Birkbeck’s Occupational Sick Pay for those staff who qualify within that scheme. In order to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, staff must meet the statutory conditions as detailed on the HMRC website at: https://www.gov.uk/employers-sick-pay/eligibility-and-form-ssp1

8.13       Statutory Sick Pay is paid for the first 28 weeks of sickness absence. It is not payable for the first 3 days of absence unless the absence is linked to a previous period of absence.  A linked period of absence is where any absence occurs within 8 weeks of a previous absence period.

9 Medical and dental appointments

9.1 Requests for paid time off to attend medical or dental appointments will be dealt with sympathetically, however, it is expected that staff endeavour to arrange such appointments in their own time wherever this is possible.  Where this is not possible, appointments should be arranged to minimise any absence from work, for example, at the beginning or end of a normal working day. 

9.2         Ad hoc medical and dental appointments that take up more than 70% of a staff member’s normal working day (5 hours for full time staff and pro rata for part time staff) will be recorded as sick leave. 

9.3         Staff may be asked to provide an appointment card or evidence of medical or dental appointments in any circumstance but most typically when a request has been made for paid or unpaid leave in respect of a series of medical appointments.

10 Annual leave and sickness absence

10.1       If staff are sick during a period of annual leave, that element of annual leave entitlement may be reinstated subject to the provision of a fit note from a G.P. to cover the whole period of the sickness.  Retrospectively dated fit notes will not be accepted.

10.2       During periods of sickness absence, within any leave year, annual leave will continue to accrue.  The annual leave rules apply to accrued leave at the end of the leave year i.e. a maximum of 5 working days accrued leave (pro rata for staff working part-time) may be requested to be carried into the following leave year.   

10.3       In the case of illness resulting in long-term sickness absence (i.e. 4 or more weeks continuous absence), annual leave may be taken at the staff member’s request.  In such cases requests for annual leave should be made in the usual way.

10.4       Where long-term sickness means that it has not been feasible for the leave to be taken within the current leave year, any remaining annual leave may be carried over into the next leave year.

11 Return to work discussions

11.1       All staff will have a return to work discussion with their manager, normally on their first day back at work.  If staff work at a time that does not overlap with their manager’s hours it may not be practicable to have the discussion at this point or to have a face-to-face conversation, for example, for those who teach during the evening or who work remotely.  In such cases the conversation may be held by telephone or email.

11.2       Return to work discussions and sickness review meetings (as detailed in the following sections) are intended to help improve attendance and to resolve absence issues.  The staff member’s health and other associated problems will be discussed openly, in a supportive way and with a view to addressing any issues at an early stage.

11.3       The content of return to work discussions will vary depending upon the length, type of absence and any concerns that a manager may have in relation to a staff member’s sickness record.  Most typically the meeting will take the form of a brief conversation about the staff member’s health and with the offer of any support as appropriate however, it may be a more detailed discussion or meeting depending upon the issues. 

11.4       In such discussions staff have the responsibility to make their manager aware of any issues which may affect their attendance at work and their general state of health so that the appropriate support and action may be taken.  For example, managers should be made aware if:
  • a staff member has an underlying medical condition;
  • any adjustments need to be considered in the case of a disability;
  • the staff member is suffering from stress which may relate to personal issues and/or to issues at work;
  • the staff member would like information about accessing the services provided by the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which includes a counselling service; or
  • there are personal issues outside of work which are affecting the staff member’s attendance.
11.5       In such discussions the manager will:
  • acknowledge and welcome their staff member back to work;
  • find out the reason and cause of absence if this is not known;
  • make sure their staff member is fit to return to work, taking account of any recommendations from a G.P. where relevant;
  • identify whether there is any additional support that may be provided; and
  • bring their staff member up to date with any changes or news.
11.6       The manager should make a note of any agreed outcomes from the meeting.

12 Absence monitoring

12.1       The College typically monitors the individual sickness absence of staff over a 12-month rolling period and therefore any review of attendance would take into consideration all sickness absence in that preceding period.  However, if a period of absence, pattern of absence or concern about absence levels continues beyond 12 months any such ongoing review, and any action as appropriate, may include consideration of sickness absence spanning a 24-month rolling period.

12.2       As a part of the monitoring and categorisation of sickness absence, a system generated report will enable HR to alert managers when staff have:

  • short-term sickness absence of 11 or more self-declared working days within a 12 month’ period (pro rata for part-time staff);
  • short-term sickness absence comprised of 4 individual episodes of sickness absence within a 6 month’ period;
  • Long-term sickness absence amounting to 4 or more consecutive weeks.
12.3       In reviewing the individual sickness absence of their staff in respect of the flagged alert points, managers will monitor for any pattern of sickness absence e.g. Monday/Friday absences, before/after Bank Holidays and College closure days, before or after annual leave, before or after non-working days etc.

13 Absence management interventions and review

13.1       The following procedures aim to provide a consistent approach to managing both short-term sickness absence (see section 14) and long-term sickness absence (see section 16), initially through informal interventions, and where attendance does not improve/attendance targets are not met and concerns continue, through formal review and action as appropriate.

14 Short-term sickness absence - informal intervention

14.1       Poor attendance and reliability issues impact individual performance and productivity and may additionally have a negative impact upon colleagues, their workloads and wider team effectiveness.  Within this context short-term or intermittent absence may be considered a matter of formal concern and managers will intervene in a consistent and appropriate way.

14.2       Managers will meet informally with their staff in the event of short-term absences - as outlined in the short-term absence alerts criteria (Section 12.2) - with a view to explore and resolve any issues and to improve attendance. 

14.3       The purpose of the informal review meeting is to provide a supportive, exploratory and solution focused forum and not a punitive action.  The specific aims will be to:

  • identify any contributing issues and how these may be resolved;
  • establish whether there is an underlying medical condition and/or disability (this may involve seeking further medical advice);
  • consider whether other support may be needed; and
  • encourage the member of staff to improve their attendance at work through the setting of appropriate attendance targets.
14.4       In addition, other potential outcomes may be that:
  • the staff member is asked to attend an occupational health consultation so that further advice and guidance can be provided;
  • adjustments or other support may be agreed such as changes to working patterns, the accessing of services provided by the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which includes a counselling service, or additional management support;
  • in the case of a disability being disclosed or a disability that has not previously resulted in sickness absence at a level to generate an alert, the setting of individual attendance targets as part of a reasonable adjustment i.e. potentially at a more favourable level  than would be set for a staff member without a disability.  Such decisions may require the involvement of the College’s occupational health advisors.
14.5       The manager will make a written note of this meeting and this will be given to the staff member

14.6       As appropriate to the situation, the staff member would be informed in writing that if attendance does not improve the matter may be considered at Formal Review, as a matter of Health Capability or as a disciplinary matter in the case of repeated unexplained absence, a pattern of absence that is of concern and/or a failure to follow reporting and certification requirements.

15 Short-term sickness absence - formal review

15.1       If the actions and measures outlined in Section 14 do not result in improved attendance a Formal Review meeting will be held.

15.2       The manager will write to the staff member to:

  • clarify that it is a Formal Review meeting concerning short-term and/or intermittent absence;
  • give at least 5 working days written notice to attend the meeting;
  • notify the staff member of their right to be accompanied by a companion (trade union representative or a work colleague) from within the College; and
  • confirm that a representative from Human Resources will also attend.
15.3       If a staff member’s companion is unable to attend the meeting the staff member must notify their manager and a further meeting will be scheduled, normally within 5 working days.

15.4       In exceptional circumstances the College may extend the timescale depending upon the individual circumstances of the case.

15.5  At the Formal Review meeting the manager will:

  • review the staff member’s attendance;
  • discuss how attendance may be improved;
  • review the improvement targets;
  • discuss any management support or other needs.
15.6       Outcome(s) of the Formal Review meeting may include:
  • asking the staff member to attend an occupational health appointment if a referral has not yet been made or for a further appointment;
  • setting new or revised improvement targets;
  • confirming that the monitoring of attendance will continue, with further Formal Review meetings set at monthly intervals for a specified period;
  • giving notice that any repeat of the reasons that led to the review may next be considered under the Health Capability procedures; or
  • advising the staff member that repeated unauthorised absence, or a failure to reasonably comply with reporting and/or certification requirements, will be considered a disciplinary issue and managed under the Disciplinary and Dismissal Procedure.
15.7       The manager will write to the staff member to confirm the outcome of the meeting and any actions. The meeting  may be adjourned, to seek and consider advice from occupational health.

16 Long-term sickness absence management

16.1       Ongoing sickness absence that extends to a continuous period of 4 weeks and beyond will be addressed through the Long-term Sickness Absence Management procedures.

16.2       The management of long-term sickness absence involves the manager scheduling monthly sickness review meetings with the member of staff to:

  • keep in touch;
  • discuss and review the length and reasons for absence;
  • establish and facilitate a return to work
16.3       In such cases the manager will write, at the point that the sickness absence meets the Long-term Sickness Absence criteria, giving their staff member 5 days’ notice of a Long-term Sickness Review Meeting.  In some cases, where there is a known medical reason for the sickness absence and there is a known date of return to work, meetings may, by agreement, be held at longer intervals and with contact mainly by telephone.

16.4       The staff member will be informed that they may be accompanied at such meetings by a trade union representative or a work colleague from within the College. If a chosen companion is unable to attend the meeting within the 5-day timescale, the staff member should notify their manager of this and a further appointment will be made within the following 5 working days.

16.5       A HR Business Partner or Assistant HR Business Partner will usually be present at the meeting.

16.6       In addition to keeping in touch, the purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the staff member’s sickness absence and to identify any support that may be provided to facilitate their return to work. This may include:

  • agreement to seek medical advice through the College’s occupational health provider to establish when/whether a return to work is likely and how the College can reasonably help to facilitate it
  • discussion of any reasonable adjustments for disabled staff that may facilitate a return to work;
  • consideration of whether alternative duties, light work or a phased return to work would be beneficial;
  • if appropriate and a potential option, discussion of ill health retirement. In all such cases advice from Human Resources should be sought at the earliest possible stage. If the member of staff wishes to pursue ill health retirement, HR will refer them to Occupational Health for an initial ill health retirement review. Such a review is a requirement of all College pension providers. Note, decisions as to whether to award ill health retirement are at the sole discretion of the pension provider.
  • consideration of whether the employee may be at risk of dismissal on the grounds of capability.
  • consideration of redeployment as a potential alternative to ending employment in a case where this is a potential option.
16.7       If a staff member is recovering from illness a phased return to work may be agreed as beneficial.  A phased return could allow a staff member to return to work starting on reduced hours for a short period and building up hours gradually to normal working hours. In such cases where Occupational Sick Pay had been exhausted the staff member would receive their normal pay during any phased return period up to a maximum of four weeks,  unless a protracted return to work is recommended by Occupational Health.

16.8       Flexible Working arrangements may be considered upon request, or at the suggestion of the manager, if it is felt that reduced or amended working hours, either permanently or for a temporary period, would help staff to return to work or to retain staff in work. If working hours are reduced, pay and leave entitlements will be adjusted accordingly.

17 Follow up sickness review meetings (monthly)

17.1       Normally after 8 weeks’ continuous absence the manager will write giving their staff member 5 days’ notice of a further Long-term Sickness Review Meeting, including the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague from within the College, and the right to postpone the meeting for up to five working days should the chosen companion not be available.

17.2       The purpose of monthly follow-up Long-term Sickness Review meetings is to:

  • consider arranging an occupational health consultation, if not already done so or if a follow-up is appropriate;
  • discuss the staff member’s health;
  • consider any medical advice received;
  • review any actions which have been discussed;
  • consider any further support, and reasonable adjustments (including redeployment), where appropriate, that the College can offer to facilitate a return to work;
  • identify a possible return to work date; and where appropriate;
  • consider whether employment may be at risk.
17.3       If, a staff member is on long-term sick leave and it becomes evident at any stage that a return to work is unlikely, or that the staff member will be unable to fulfil their role effectively for health reasons, the staff member may be invited to attend a Health Capability Review meeting and potentially thereafter a Health Capability Hearing, the outcome of which may be that the staff member’s employment is ended due to reasons of Health Capability.  

18 Health capability review

18.1       In some cases of long-term continuous or intermittent sickness absence, the College will need to consider a staff member’s fitness for work via a Health Capability Review, most typically in cases where:
  • there is no predicted date of return to work;
  • Occupational Sick Pay has been exhausted;
  • medical evidence indicates that an individual is permanently unfit for work;
  • a return to work may be unlikely within a reasonable timescale;
  • there are high levels of ongoing intermittent absence and interventions and actions that have been taken to address the situation have not resulted in sufficient or sustained improvement;
  • the member of staff is not able to fulfil their job role effectively (after appropriate interventions to facilitate their return to work or to improve their attendance) and where potential redeployment has not been possible.
18.2       The first stage of the process is a Health Capability Review by the manager and a HR Business Partner or Assistant HR Business Partner to discuss and review the options (as outlined in paragraph 18.4) and to listen to the staff member’s thoughts and feelings about the situation and the options explored. 

18.3       The manager will write giving their staff member one week’s notice of a Health Capability Review meeting, including the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague from within the College, and the right to postpone the meeting for up to five working days should the chosen companion not be available.

18.4       At the review meeting the options will be explored as to whether:

  • Further investigation is required, for example, if recovery is taking longer than predicted or there has been a recent deterioration in relation to health or a disability. Further medical advice and relevant specialist reports may be requested from occupational health to ensure any decision takes into account up-to-date medical information.
  • Reasonable adjustments have been made where this is appropriate and whether there are any further reasonable adjustments such as changes to the job role or other support, including through the Access to Work scheme.
  • A phased return, alternative duties, or flexible working have been discussed and considered where appropriate.
  • Redeployment may be appropriate if there are other suitable job opportunities.
  • Ill-health retirement may be an option if the staff member is in an occupational pension scheme and meets the relevant criteria under the scheme rules.
18.5       The outcome of the meeting will be provided in writing to the staff member by their manager. Possible outcomes from the meeting are:
  • an agreed action plan and a date to review this at a further Capability Review; or
  • the staff member is informed that their case will be considered at a Capability Hearing to consider their future employment at the College.

19 Capability hearings

19.1       A Capability Hearing is a conducted by  a senior manager (normally from the same School/Professional Service Department, but not the manager who undertook the Capability Review), to enable the senior manager to consider the staff member’s sickness absence and make a decision about their ongoing employment at the College. The senior manager will be advised by a member of the HR Business Partnering Team.

19.2       The senior manager will write to the staff member giving one week’s notice of the Capability Hearing, including the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague from within the College, and the right to postpone the meeting for up to five working days should the chosen companion not be available.

19.3       All relevant information that will be considered at the hearing, including absence reports detailing the absence history, reports from the line manager and any medical advice received, will be provided to the staff member at the same time that they are notified of the meeting.

19.4       It will be in the best interest of the staff member to attend the Capability Hearing, but if this is not possible, the staff member may submit a written representation and/or request that a nominated work colleague of trade union representative attend on their behalf, and a decision will be reached in their absence.

19.5       Considerations at the Capability Hearing will include the staff member’s level of sickness absence, which may be intermittent absence or a continuous period of long-term sickness absence; the impact this has had on the service and work colleagues; the support, actions or adjustments which have been taken; and whether redeployment or incapacity retirement have been discussed where appropriate.  A decision will then be made about the staff member’s employment situation.

19.6       The staff member will have the opportunity to state their case and any chosen companion may assist in this but may not answer questions on the staff member’s behalf.

19.7       An outcome will be determined at the meeting. One of the possible outcomes of the Hearing is dismissal by reason of Health Capability.

20 Right of appeal

20.1       To appeal the decision of a Capability Hearing, a staff member must write to the Director of Human Resources, within five working days of receiving the dismissal notification, providing the grounds for the appeal and including all documentation to be relied upon.

20.2       The appeal will typically be chaired by a more senior manager, as appropriate, and who was not involved in the case. The chair will be advised by the Deputy Director of HR or their nominee.

20.3       If the person appealing has good reason to believe that there is a conflict of interest with the manager hearing the appeal, they may make a case to the Deputy Director of Human Resources who will appoint an alternate manager, if deemed appropriate.

20.4       The appeal decision of the chair will be final. The chair will notify the staff member of the decision, in writing, within five working days of the appeal meeting.

Use and retention of sickness data

21.1.     An individual staff member’s sickness information will be held confidentially, and access restricted to authorised personnel within the College.  Under the General Data Protection Regulation, sickness information is considered sensitive data and the College is committed to ensuring that such data is treated confidentially and not shared more widely than is necessary, in accordance with the Regulation.

21.2       In order to manage sickness absence effectively at an organisational level, the College will monitor statistics and trends through the ongoing review of anonymised data within Human Resources and other official forums as appropriate.

22 Responsibilities

22.1       Responsibilities for complying, managing, implementing, and monitoring this policy are as follows:

22.2       Staff are responsible for their own health and wellbeing and for minimising their absence from work. Staff are responsible for adhering to the requirements stated within this policy, particularly in terms of sickness notification, providing certification and keeping in regular contact with their manager during longer-term absence.

22.3       Managers have a duty of care for the health, safety and welfare of their staff and should work supportively in conjunction with Human Resources and the College’s nominated occupational health provider to support staff with genuine sickness absence. Managers are responsible for managing sickness absence appropriately, effectively and ensuring absence is monitored and recorded for their team.  The manager is responsible for carrying out return to work discussions and other review meetings as appropriate, promoting a positive working environment, motivating, and managing their team to maximise attendance.Senior managers are responsible for ensuring that training is made available for staff who are managing sickness absence issues. Senior managers should also ensure that absence issues are treated equitably and consistently within their area of responsibility.

22.4       Human Resources (HR) will provide specialist advice, coaching and support to managers and staff in dealing with absence issues.  Representatives of HR will attend any meeting held under the formal stages of this policy.

HR will provide statistical information to support the management of absence, including reports on total working time lost by team and by individual, the average number of working days absence and the percentage of working time lost due to absence.

HR will ensure that managers are aware of instances where individual staff sickness absence trigger points have reached.  Any information held will be in line with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation and confidentiality maintained.

HR will work with managers and staff to facilitate a return to work, including provision of advice, support, and referrals to occupational health.

HR will provide information updates to managers and staff on sickness issues, for example, to advise of changes in legislation and best practice.

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The HR team is based on the first floor of Egmont House
Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX
Email: humanresources@bbk.ac.uk