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Sickness Absence Policy

Appendix A: Absence for specific reasons

1. Pregnancy-related sickness

1.1 Pregnancy-related sickness absence must be recorded on MyView under 'pregnancy related disorders' and should not be taken into account when assessing whether the Formal Procedures for Managing Sickness Absence have been triggered.

1.2       If an employee is absent from work due to a pregnancy-related reason, even for one day, within 4 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, her maternity leave will commence automatically. Further information can be found in the UCL Maternity Policy.

2. Disability-related sickness

2.1       If an employee with a stable impairment/condition is properly supported in the workplace, it is often the case that s/he will be able to continue working whilst managing their impairment/condition/s. This includes employees with physical, cognitive and mental health conditions and incorporates situations where individuals experience impairments/conditions the effects of which are variable or fluctuating.

2.2       Where it is known that the sickness/absence of a UCL employee is related directly to an impairment/condition, this must be recorded on MyView using the most relevant of the categories in 'sickness reasons'.

2.3       UCL has a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled employees are treated no less favourably than their non-disabled counterparts. A flexible and pro-active approach should be adopted by managers, which supports disabled staff needing to take leave for reasons relating to their impairment/condition, such as assessment, treatment, or servicing of necessary equipment or disability aids. Such disability-related leave absence is linked specifically to an individual's management of their impairment/condition, as distinct from sickness absence caused by or arising from an individual's impairment/condition. An arrangement to allow an individual to take leave for this purpose, and discounting it for purposes of monitoring sickness absence, may therefore be one example of a reasonable adjustment that an employer could make in seeking to mitigate significant disadvantage for a disabled employee in the workplace.

2.4      It is not possible to prescribe all of the circumstances in which disability-related leave may be appropriate, as the judgment by an employer on what is reasonable will be made in the context of each individual employee's situation and local circumstances. This needs to take into account recent occupational health advice on adjustments that can be considered.

 2.5      Examples of circumstances that may prompt a need for leave related to an impairment/condition include:

2.6       Additional guidance concerning disability equality issues can be sought from the Equalities and Diversity Team and further information for managers can be found in the Equalities document 'Supporting disabled people in the workplace'.

2.7       An employee who is disabled, or who becomes disabled whilst employed by UCL, can make a self-referral to Occupational Health for additional support and advice.

2.8       An employee who is disabled, or who becomes disabled whilst employed by UCL, can also make a self-referral to Access to Work for additional support and advice

3. Stress-related sickness

3.1       The Health & Safety Executive defines stress as 'the adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed upon them'. This makes a distinction between 'pressure', which can be a positive state if managed correctly and 'stress' which can be detrimental to health.

3.2       UCL recognises that it has a duty of care towards its employees and a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment. The UCL guidance on Managing Stress at Work aims to establish standards for managers and employees on the prevention of work related stress, it also provides information on sources of support available at UCL to facilitate implementation of these standards and support for those experiencing feelings and symptoms of stress.

3.3       An individual may be more susceptible to the impact of work pressure perhaps due to a recognised impairment/condition, or other circumstances. This should be acknowledged openly by managers, discussed with the employee concerned and advice sought from occupational health to ensure appropriate support is put in place.

4. Drug and Alcohol misuse

4.1       It is unacceptable to attend work under the influence of alcohol or drugs and a hangover is not a permissible reason to require time off work under the Sickness Absence Policy.

4.2       Employees who are suffering from alcohol dependence or substance addiction are encouraged to seek help, either independently or through UCL OHS and will be supported through the UCL Drug and Alcohol Misuse Policy.

4.3       If an individual is required to take prescription medication which may affect their ability to undertake any part of their work (for example driving a UCL van), they should speak to their line manager about how this can be managed to ensure their own safety and continuity of work.

5. Fertility Treatment / IVF

5.1 Wherever possible appointments related to fertility treatment should be arranged outside of working hours, however, if necessary, time off may be granted under the UCL Parental Leave Policy. If time off is required due to the side effects of treatment, this will be treated as sickness absence. Sickness absence taken following implantation of a fertilised ovum that is related to the procedure itself, will not be counted towards the triggers in the Sickness Absence Policy.

6. Gender Identity/Transitioning

6.1       Significant time off may be required by an employee during the process of transitioning to the gender role in which they wish to be recognised. Any request for time off will be dealt with sensitively, as part of a larger programme of support. Discussion with the individual will help to establish whether annual leave, sickness absence, or any other type of leave would be most appropriate to use.  For further information and support please see UCL Transgender Issues- guidance notes on inclusive and supportive practice, or contact the HR Equality and Diversity Team.

7. Medical appointments

7.1       Time off for medical and dental appointments is covered by the UCL Policy on Leave for Domestic and Personal Reasons. Such appointments should not be recorded as sickness absence unless a whole day's absence is required.