UCL Human Resources


Sickness Absence Policy - Appendix B: Employee and Manager Responsibilities

Employee and manager responsibilities

1. Employee Responsibilities

1.1. It is expected that all employees will attend work unless genuinely ill and should an absence be required for any other reason, the appropriate alternative policy will be used, e.g. UCL's Policy on Leave for Domestic and Personal Reasons.

1.2. If an employee becomes ill while at work and feels too unwell to continue working, they must speak to their manager who will give permission for the individual to leave work (either for medical treatment, a break or to go home). 

1.3. Employees must ensure that any accident, incident or near miss at work is reported to their manager and recorded on UCL's Accident Reporting System as quickly as possible, either by themselves or their manager.

1.4. An employee who is unwell and cannot attend work should normally contact their manager (or the person designated for the purpose within the department) by telephone as early as possible on the first day of absence and at least within 30 minutes of the time when they would be expected to start work. Employees should not ask anyone else to make contact on their behalf unless it is not possible for them to make contact personally.

1.5. When reporting absence from work due to sickness, an individual is expected to provide as much of the following information as possible:

  • The nature of the illness - if the employee does not wish to reveal the exact nature of the illness they must indicate broadly the reason for the absence. 
  • The anticipated length of absence (only an estimated indication is expected e.g. "I'll be back tomorrow" or "I don't expect to be in for the rest of the week")
  • If the absence is expected to last 7 calendar days or more, any steps they is taking in relation to it (e.g. details of any doctor's appointments arranged)
  • Details of any outstanding important or urgent work that needs to be dealt with during their absence;
  • Details of how they can be contacted if necessary, especially where the employee is staying at a different address during their absence.

1.6. Employees should agree with their manager suitable arrangements for maintaining regular contact throughout the period of absence. It is recommended that contact should be at least fortnightly in the case of longer term absence, particularly for common mental health problems including, stress, depression and anxiety. Employees should provide updates if anything in their circumstances changes, e.g. they have seen a GP and been told they are unfit for work for a specified period of time.

1.7. For any absence of 8 calendar days or more (including non-working days), the employee must obtain a Statement of Fitness for Work (Fit Note) from their GP. The original must be forwarded to their manager as soon as possible and normally within one week of the start date of certifiable absence.  If the manager is working remotely, a scanned copy may be sent to them securely and the original provided upon request - send password separately.  If the absence continues further Fit Notes must be provided for the duration of the absence, these must run sequentially with no gaps. 

1.8. If an employee becomes ill while abroad, for example during a holiday, the same reporting and certification procedures apply, if the employee wishes to claim back the annual leave. It may be necessary in some circumstances to ask the employee to obtain a certified translation of any medical certification provided in a foreign language.

1.9. Employees will be expected to attend any sickness absence management meetings or Workplace Health appointments that are arranged. If for any reason an employee cannot attend a meeting or appointment, they should give a sufficient amount of notice and expect that the meeting or appointment will be rearranged for the earliest possible opportunity.

1.10. On return to work the employee should check that their sickness absence has been record correctly on MyHR.

2. Manager responsibilities

2.1. Managers must apply this Managing Sickness Absence Policy consistently and fairly to all employees. Some actions, especially the recording of absence, may be delegated to Department Administrators or other designated staff.

2.2. Where departments have specific arrangements for the reporting of absence, this should be regularly communicated to and observed by all employees. Managers should ensure that any new employees are informed of the sickness absence reporting procedures and this policy on Managing Sickness Absence.

2.3. Managers are responsible for ensuring that sickness absence within their team is recorded accurately on MyHR Self Service, kept confidential and monitored on a regular basis in accordance with this Policy. Managers should normally open the absence on the first day of leave and ensure that the absence is closed when the employee returns to work. If it is likely the absence will be very short and will not affect the employee’s pay, the manager may record the absence when the employee returns to work.  A scanned copy of the original Fit Note(s) must be sent securely to HR Services hr-services@ucl.ac.uk. Once the scanned copy has been submitted, the original documents may be returned to the employee, or held securely until they can be returned in person when they return to work.

2.4. Absence from work for part of a working day can be recorded as ‘Sickness- Half Day’ on MyHR Self Service. This will not affect sick pay, however may be taken into account when looking at patterns of absence.

2.5. Managers should agree with their staff the arrangements for maintaining regular contact throughout the period of absence. It is recommended that contact should be at least fortnightly in the case of long term absence, particularly for common mental health problems including Stress, Depression and Anxiety.

2.6. In some situations it may be appropriate for an employee to be permitted to work from home, rather than take sickness absence, for example where an injury prohibits travel but the employee is otherwise fit to work. Any arrangements must be made on an individual basis in consultation with the employee.

2.7. It is good practice to ensure that on each occasion an employee returns from a period of sickness absence (of any length), a brief and informal return to work meeting is held with them ideally on their first day back. This provides the opportunity to check that they are fit to be back at work, that their sickness is recorded correctly on MyHR, and they have provided any necessary Fit-Note/s. It is also an opportunity for the employee to raise any concerns they may have and for the manager to discuss whether any additional support could be given or a referral to Workplace Health arranged.  These meetings also provide a good opportunity to let an employee know if they are close to triggering the formal procedures for managing sickness absence  and to remind them of this policy. The return to work form can be used for this.

2.8. Managers must ensure that any accident, incident or near miss at work is recorded on UCL’s Accident Reporting System as quickly as possible, either by the individual involved or themselves.

2.9. Managers should regularly review sickness absence for their team through the sickness absence reports available in HR Reports and at the case management meetings with Workplace Health and HR Business Partners. This will ensure that meetings are arranged as per the Formal Procedures at Appendix E when triggered and suitable support is planned. Checks should also be made for any patterns that may indicate the possibility of health problems being exacerbated by the working environment.

2.10. Where work may be impacting on an employee's health, or where health problems may be affecting an employee's attendance or performance, managers should obtain advice from the UCL Workplace Health, in consultation with the HR Business Partner.

HR Employment Policy Team April 2022