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Sickness - Employee Guidance

1 Introduction

This Guidance supplements the Sickness Absence Policy http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/sickness_absence.php which covers the following issues:

These guidance notes should therefore be read in conjunction with the Sickness Absence Policy.

2 Support Available to Staff

Occupational Health Advice

The OHS assists UCL in promoting the physical and psychological well being of its employees by advising managers and staff on the effects of health on work, and of work on health. The OHS also aims to assist UCL in the prevention of illness and injury arising from work activity. Services include:

If you think that your health problems may be caused by your work, or may be affecting your attendance or performance, you should discuss this with your manager and ask for a management referral to the OHS. You can also self-refer. However, if adjustments to your work are suggested your consent is required to ensure your manager is given this advice from the OHS

More information on the OHS can be found on the OHS website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/occ_health/

HR Policies, Procedures and Guidance

There are a number of policies and procedures which you may find helpful. These include:

These documents can also be obtained from the HR Division in printed form.

3. Staff responsibilities

All staff are responsible for:

4 Return to Work interviews - what you can expect

When you return to work following an episode of sickness, your manager will arrange an interview with you on your first day back or as soon as possible thereafter. This will be done for all staff at UCL after every episode of sickness. Managers will need to make a judgement on a case by case basis as to the detail discussed and length of these meetings. It is anticipated that the vast majority of these meetings will be very brief and informal.

If you have been absent through illness for more than 7 calendar days you will need to provide a Fit Note from your GP which will be discussed at the interview.

The purpose of the interview

Before the interview, your manager will have gathered together all relevant information regarding your absence record including whether you have complied with the procedures, any identifiable absence patterns, the reasons given for your absence and information on how your absence record compares with that of your colleagues.

Your manager will explore the following areas with you:

They will explain how your work was covered during your absence and discuss any future action, such as referral to the OHS, with you. It is important that there is agreement over what action is to be taken, who will be taking them and agreement on any review of these actions.

5 Returning to work following long-term sickness

When your fit note has the 'may be fit to return to work' box ticked you should inform your manager that you are well enough to consider returning to work and consideration will be given to what assistance you might require. Additional advice from OHS may also be sought. Most individuals return to work after illness without needing any special adjustments to be made to their working arrangements. However, some individuals who have been absent with a condition that impacts on their capacity to carry out a particular aspect of their work, or are returning following a period of extended sick leave, or have been absent with a disability-related illness, or who suffer from a progressive illness that affects their health in the workplace, may need particular arrangements to be made.

In general terms, a rehabilitation programme may be helpful where an employee is well enough to do some of their work, but may need adjustments to work to help them return to their normal working pattern within a prescribed period of time. The following circumstances could mean that special arrangements will need to be made to assist you to return to work:

If your manager feels that a rehabilitation programme will assist you, you will be referred to the OHS for further advice.

You will be consulted on any proposed arrangements or adjustments. Although the OHS will have discussed these with you and you will automatically receive a copy of the OHS report, your manager will also discuss them with you before arrangements are finalised and implemented to ensure that your needs are balanced with the operational needs of the department. It is essential that everyone involved in the process has a common understanding of what is going to happen, when and whose responsibility it is.

The OHS may recommend that you either work your normal number of days each week but return on reduced hours which are gradually built up, or reduce the number of days you work each week building up to a full week. Where the hours of work are reduced as part of a rehabilitation programme, this would normally be on full pay for a limited period of up to four weeks. If the normal hours of work are reduced over a longer period, a corresponding reduction in salary is likely to result. However, the individual circumstances of your case will be taken into account.

6 Guidance for staff with disabilities

Disability is defined in the Equality Act 2010 as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities, which would include things like using a telephone, reading a book or using public transport.. Note that this definition is much broader than traditional definitions of "Disability". You may have a medical condition that affects your ability to do your job, without thinking about it as a "disability". All staff experiencing disability-related sickness absence, or who find that particular duties are impaired by their disability, will be managed in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and related Codes of Practice. This means that UCL will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to enable you to continue working. In order to do this you will need to disclose the "disability" to your manager. If you wish to obtain confidential advice on this question you can speak to HR Equal Opportunities Officer or your trade union.

Advice on what type of adjustments would make a significant difference to you will be sought from the OHS, in conjunction with the HR Consultancy Team. You can also make suggestions or requests of your own. It is for the manager to decide, in consultation with the HR Consultancy Team, whether the adjustments recommended by the OHS are reasonable to implement within that particular workplace and if not, whether there could be an alternative role within the department or UCL. 'Reasonable adjustments' might include changes to computer equipment and the office environment, changes in duties, redeployment and even part-time working or changes in attendance hours.

Access to Work Programme

If you become disabled under the criteria of the Equality Act 2010 may be eligible for a grant from the 'Access to Work' Scheme. This is a programme run by the Department of Work and Pensions to provide support to disabled people to help them overcome work related obstacles resulting from their disability. As a person with a disability, you will need to contact Access to Work to request assistance, which can include a variety of practical help such as aids for communication, special equipment, alterations to premises or the working environment, and assistance with travel where a disabled person is unable to use public transport. In the case of special equipment being needed, the onus is on the department to purchase the equipment once Access to Work have agreed to fund it and then claim the costs back. Further details, including eligibility criteria and the application procedure can be found in the document Access to Work http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/access_to_work.php or by contacting the Equal Opportunities Co-ordinator.

The Equal Opportunities Co-ordinator

Advice on issues which apply to staff with disabilities, other than those related to sickness absence (e.g. information on the types of aids and adaptations generally available and how to apply to the Access to Work Scheme), can be obtained by contacting the Equal Opportunities Co-ordinator http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/equal_opportunity.php

Updated November 2013