Absence for Specific Reasons
1. Pregnancy-related sickness
1.1 Pregnancy-related sickness absence must be recorded on MyHR Self-Service 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, their maternity leave will commence automatically. Further information can be found in the UCL Parental Leave Policy.
2. Menopause or menstruation sickness
2.1 Menopause or painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), can be severe and require absence from work. While dysmenorrhea is not always linked to menopause, symptoms can be more severe during perimenopause. More information on menopause is available in UCL’s menopause guidance.
2.2 Where symptoms have a significant impact on a person’s ability to do normal daily activities, menopause or dysmenorrhea may meet the definition of a disability, see section 3. below.
3. Disability-related sickness
3.1 A disability is a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on a person’s ability to do normal daily activities. Cancer, HIV and Multiple Sclerosis are automatically classed as a disability from the date of diagnosis.
3.2 Employees with a disability will be supported to continue working where possible, whilst managing their disability, including when the effects are variable or fluctuating.
3.3 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.
3.4 One example of a reasonable adjustment is to adopt a flexible and supportive approach to managing sickness absence and/or medical appointments where it is due to a disability.
Recording of absences related to a disability
3.5 Sickness absence must be recorded, as usual, on MyHR (either by the employee using Employee Self Service or by the manager using Manager Self Service), by selecting ‘Sick Leave’ as the Absence Type and then selecting the most relevant type of sickness under ‘Absence Reason’. Where it is known that the sickness/absence is related directly to a disability, then please add in the Comments section: “Related to disability.” This is so the line manager can apply a supportive and flexible approach when managing sickness absence triggers.
3.6 Medical appointments which are related to the management of an individual’s impairment / condition, or the assessment, treatment, or servicing of necessary equipment or disability aids, must be recorded, as usual, on MyHR. They may be recorded either by the employee using Employee Self Service or by the manager using Manager Self Service, by selecting ‘Paid Leave’ as the Absence Type and then selecting ‘Medical Appointment’ under ‘Absence Reason’. The duration of a medical appointment is usually limited to half a day, and a medical appointment which lasts for a whole day is usually recorded as sickness absence. As a reasonable adjustment a medical appointment related to a disability may be for either half a day or one day of paid leave and will not count towards sickness absence. Please add in the Comments section: “Related to disability.” An appointment of less than half a day is not recorded in MyHR but should be recorded in the employee’s Outlook calendar.
3.7 Examples of medical appointments related to a disability may include:
- Appointments as a hospital outpatient or for specialist checkups and diagnostic assessments
- Specialist assessment, e.g. for such conditions as dyslexia
- Equipment servicing, e.g. hearing aid tests
- Training with a new assistance dog or in the use of assistive technology
- Hospital treatment appointments, e.g. for a blood transfusion or dialysis, or to respond to a change in impairment/condition.
3.8 Additional guidance concerning reasonable adjustments and disability equality issues can be sought from the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team and further information for managers can be found in the Equalities document ‘Supporting disabled people in the workplace’.
3.9 An employee who is disabled can make a self-referral to Workplace Health if they require additional support and advice.
3.10 An employee who is disabled may also be eligible to apply to Access to Work for a grant to help pay for practical support for work.
3.11 A line manager may refer the employee to Workplace Health if they require additional advice to support the employee, including reasonable adjustments, or if they need advice which will help the line manager to manage the sickness absence under the Formal Procedure, Appendix E.
3.12 UCL has an informal, support staff network called Enable@UCL which disabled staff can join.
4. Stress-related sickness
4.1 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.
4.2 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.
4.3 An individual may be more susceptible to the impact of work pressure perhaps due to a disability, or other circumstances. This should be acknowledged openly by managers, discussed with the employee concerned and advice sought from workplace health to ensure appropriate support is put in place.
5. Drug and Alcohol misuse
5.1. 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.
5.2. Employees who are suffering from alcohol dependence or substance addiction are encouraged to seek help, either independently or through UCL WH and will be supported through the UCL Drug and Alcohol Misuse Policy.
5.3. 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.
6. Fertility Treatment / IVF
6.1. Significant time off may be required by an employee undergoing fertility treatment or IVF and any request for time off will be dealt with sensitively. Wherever possible, appointments related to fertility treatment should be arranged outside of working hours. Where this is not possible, the UCL Policy on Leave for Domestic and Personal Reasons allows for an employee to be granted up to 5 days of paid leave in any 12 month period, for the purpose of receiving and recovering from IVF treatment.
7. Gender Identity/Transitioning
7.1. 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 Supporting Trans Staff in the Workplace, or contact the HR Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team.
8. Elective cosmetic surgery and treatment
8.1 A member of staff should book annual leave if they choose to undergo surgery or other cosmetic treatment which is not medically required. This annual leave should be sufficient to cover any necessary preparations, appointment attendance and recommended recovery time. If a member of staff becomes ill as a direct consequence of undergoing such treatment, this should be recorded as sickness absence.
9. Medical appointments
9.1. Time off for medical and dental appointments is covered by the UCL Policy on Leave for Domestic and Personal Reasons. Where the appointment cannot be made outside of working hours, it may be recorded either by the employee using Employee Self Service or by the manager using Manager Self Service, by selecting ‘Paid Leave’ as the Absence Type and then selecting ‘Medical Appointment’ under ‘Absence Reason’. The duration of a medical appointment is for half a day. An appointment of less than half a day is not recorded in MyHR but should be recorded in the employee’s Outlook calendar. Where it is known that the appointment is related directly to a disability, then please add in the Comments section: “Related to disability.”
HR Employment Policy Team April 2022