Legal Reference

  Legal Reference
1.0 Regulation 22 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010  
Outcome Statement
2.0 Service Users:

  • Ø  Are safe and their health and welfare needs are met by sufficient numbers of appropriate staff.

 

2.1 This is because we comply with the regulations and will:

  • Ø  Make sure that there is sufficient staff with the right knowledge, experience, qualifications and skills to support people.
  • Ø  Ensure that we comply with all the relevant current legislation and other National Standards which govern our areas of work.
  • Ø  Provide a clear statement of the standards of attendance expected by the home.
  • Ø  Provide a consistent procedure for managing staff absence that applies to all employees.
  • Ø  Minimise the cost and disruption resulting from staff absence.
  • Ø  Minimise the burden placed on remaining staff when others are absent.
  • Ø  Provide employees who are genuinely sick with appropriate support and help them return to work at the earliest opportunity.
  • Ø  Deal with employees whose absence poses a ‘problem’ to the contract of employment in a predictable, fair and consistent way.


Policy Statement
3.0 We believe that service users, staff and visitors should be provided with a safe environment which embraces all aspects of their life.  This includes being assured that the staff employed to care for them will help to keep them safe. We are committed to this in relation to the management of staff attendance at work and absence management in the home by the following.

 

3.1 Service users benefit from sufficient staff to meet their needs because the manager:

  • Ø  Can demonstrate that there are sufficient numbers of staff with the right competencies, knowledge, qualifications, skills and experience to meet the needs of service users at all times.
  • Ø  Can show that as far as possible that there are enough staff who know the needs of service users, meaning that service users can expect a consistency of care.
  • Ø  Is able to demonstrate that they have carried out a needs analysis and risk assessment as the basis for deciding sufficient staffing levels.
  • Ø  Has management structures, systems and clear recruitment procedures which are followed in practice, monitored and reviewed that enable the effective maintenance of staffing levels.
  • Ø  Can respond to unexpected changing circumstances in the home, for example to cover sickness, vacancies, absences and emergencies.
  • Ø  Can respond to expected changing circumstances in the home, with particular regard to planned service changes, workforce changes, staff training, planned absences and changes in legislation.
  • Ø  Takes into account relevant guidance, including that from the Care Quality Commission as may from time to time be published.

 

3.2 As the home pays employees to attend work – attendance at work is, therefore, accepted as the norm.

3.3 Managers apply all procedures fairly and consistently.
3.4 The manager maintains records indicating the length and stated reasons for all periods of absence. This information is used to monitor absence levels, and to indicate where further action may be needed.
3.5 The manager (or nominated senior staff) interviews all employees on their return from absence, regardless of its duration. The purpose of the interview is to explore the causes of the absence, to support the individual’s return to work, and to identify any reasonable and practical steps to reduce the likelihood of future absence.
3.6 The manager has a standard procedure for triggering discussion and / or action when absence reaches a certain level and it will be applicable to all employees regardless of position.
3.7 In cases where absence exceeds specific ‘trigger’ levels, the manager is required to take appropriate action. This may include conducting formal attendance review meetings and issuing formal warnings, as set out in these procedures. In extreme cases, excessive absence may result in termination of employment. However, the manager’s first priority is always to achieve satisfactory levels of attendance.

3.8 In cases where an employee is absent on extended sick leave, the manager should be kept updated by the individual on a regular basis, including periodic home visits by prior arrangement, with the aim of helping the individual’s return to work at the earliest reasonable point.

3.9 To enable the home to fulfil its duty of care, the manager may be required to request a medical report.  The Manager will obtain the employee’s consent if access to medical records or a GP’s report is required. Please refer to the Homes Obtaining Medical Reports Policy.
3.10 In dealing with individual absence issues, the manager will aim to act reasonably at all times, taking account of all the individual circumstances.
3.11 The senior management team in the home will actively seek to identify factors that may be contributing to avoidable absence.
3.12 Details of how pay is affected by absence will be specified in the employment contracts. 
Procedure
4.0 The responsibility for attendance at work rests firmly with the individual employee.Managers, in addition to this, have a key role to play in managing the attendance of the members of their teams. 
4.1 Procedure for notifying the manager of absence

  • It is the staff member’s responsibility to notify the manager when unfit to attend for work and to keep the manager informed of their progress whilst off sick using the agreed update system of telephoning.
  • Staff who are unfit to attend for work must telephone in person, or in exceptional circumstances, get someone to telephone on their behalf, to the manager or in her absence the nurse-in-charge, giving as much notice as possible. Texting will not be accepted.
    This notice must be no later than one hour before the time their duty is due to begin.  (Short notice absence is likely to present the home with serious difficulties particularly in the case of night staffing).
  • The call should include reasons for the absence and some indication of when a return to work is likely, all details must be entered on the Homes sickness reporting form and kept by the manager for the staff members return to work interview.  If the absence is due to injury at work this must be clearly stated along with how, when and to whom it was reported.
  • If the staff member fails to make contact with the home’s manager directly by telephone, the absence may be treated as an unauthorised absence to be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure.  If the manager is unable to make phone contact, a letter should be sent requesting the employee to contact work.
  • If an employee is taken ill at work and has to go home it will be recorded as a part day absence and the staff member should contact the manager to indicate whether they will be well enough to attend work for their next rota shift.
4.2 Maintaining contact whilst absent

  • The manager should agree with the staff member how frequently contact needs to be made.
  • Extenuating circumstances may exist in a few cases that prevent an employee from prompt notification or regular contact (e.g. hospitalisation, living alone and no access to a telephone).  It is the staff members responsibility to make this potential difficulty known to their manager at the earliest opportunity.
  • During longer periods of illness or where absence is due to a work related injury, it may also be appropriate to arrange a home visit to maintain a constructive relationship during the absence, to provide support and to ensure the manager has sufficient understanding of the person’s condition to inform any decisions that need to be made.
  • If the absence is due to a stress-related reason, the manager may need to review the absence to decide if it is appropriate to initiate further support, either through a home visit or, through a referral to a GP.
  • Where a period of sickness absence reaches 28 consecutive days the manager should consider whether the longer term implications of the condition may impact on the staff members ability to perform their previous duties.  In such a situation, the manager should follow an appropriate “Capability Procedure”

 

4.3 Self-Certification Forms and medical certificates

  • All staff members must self-certificate sickness absence of up to 7 days using a Self-Certification Form. The entitlement to self-certificate absence ends after seven days.
  • This form must be handed in on return to work if sickness absence lasts less than 7 days.
  • If the absence is going to be longer than 7 days the staff member must ensure that the Self Certification Form reaches the manager by the eighth day of absence (including weekends, holidays and days off) along with a medical certificate obtained by the staff member from their GP for the continuing absence.
  • The whole period of any absence longer than 7 days must be covered by medical certificates and further certificates must be with the manager within 48 hours of the previous one running out and must cover the period from when the previous one expired.

 

4.4 Arrangements when fit to return to work

  • An absent staff member must contact the home to notify the manager when they know their date of return to work  by 15.30 on the day before returning to work, so that cover arrangements can be cancelled.
  • All staff will be required to attend a Return to Work Interview when returning from any period of absence.
  • The Medical certificate must indicate that the period of sickness certificated by a GP has ended.
  • A final medical certificate confirming fitness to return to work must be produced if the last certificate covered a period longer than two weeks.
  • On the day of return, it is the duty of the employee to report to the manager before starting work.

 

4.5

Return to Work Interviews

Return to Work Interviews should take place whenever a staff member returns to work after a period of absence due to sickness or injury (or after an unauthorised absence, using a different focus), regardless of the length of absence. 

 

4.6 The purpose of the Return to Work Interview is:

  • To welcome the staff member back, to demonstrate genuine concern and confirm that they are fit to return
  • To confirm the reason for absence and find out whether the illness is likely to recur
  • To ensure the staff member followed the notification of absence procedure at the beginning and end of the absence
  • To review absence records to see if any pattern has emerged or any absence trigger point has been reached
  • To clarify that, whilst it may not be their fault, the responsibility for any attendance problem does lie with the individual staff member
  • To update the staff member on what has been happening during their absence

 

4.7 It is best for the manager holding the interview to do it completely, but where this is not practicable it is acceptable to split the process, in which case:

  • The first part can be done by the shift leader, before the duty starts to make sure the person really is fit to be back by checking the certificates and telling them immediately of any further information needed.
  • No later than the following day, the manager should complete the rest of the interview and record fully.

 

4.8 Sickness absence and holidays

  • Sickness or injury during any holiday period does not entitle the staff member to take that holiday at another time.
  • Where a staff member becomes sick or injured (as a result of work related activity) prior to a holiday period and remains sick during that holiday period, the staff member may be entitled to take the holiday at another time.  The manager should review this in line with current legislation in place at the time.

 

4.9 Absence, which coincides with allegations of misconduct or poor performanceWhere any depressive or anxiety state is claimed as a result, in terms of timing, of an allegation, warning or sanction related to a disciplinary or competence issue, the staff member may be asked to attend a medical specialist of the managers choice and at its expense in order to verify diagnosis, timing and causation of any such condition or its symptoms.The manager realises that issues of discipline or competence are likely to involve stress, depression and / or anxiety and, equally, whilst they will be expected to act in a reasonable and sympathetic manner, there is an obligation for managers to address such matters in a timely and effective manner.

 

4.10 Normally it is more sensible and fair to pursue the procedure promptly to resolve matters as soon as possible but it is recognized that some individuals will find it more difficult to cope with these situations.Where serious symptoms of mental illness are verified, the manager should act reasonably in delaying hearings until the staff member feels well enough to cope with such proceedings.However, such periods of postponement will not be indefinite.

Other means of resolving the disciplinary or performance issues should be offered, such as transferring the hearing to another venue, enabling the staff member to make written representations instead of attending personally, agreeing to the staff member sending a work colleague or other representative to speak on their behalf, etc.

A balance will always have to be drawn between the injustice caused by unreasonable delay of any such hearings, natural justice and the interests of the staff member.

 

4.11 When absence reaches a level of concern – Absence TriggersTo help with consistency, certain ‘triggers’ have been set up to prompt the manager to hold an Attendance Review Meeting (ARM) to discuss individual situations.
The fact that a trigger has been reached will normally be flagged at the Return to Work Interview. 
4.12 The trigger for this meeting will be:

  • 3 periods of absence occur within a rolling 12 month period or
  • Any pattern of absence which emerges at any stage.

 

4.13 When a continuous period of absence reaches 28 consecutive days, the manager should consider reviewing the continuing capability of the staff member to perform their normal duties. 
4.14 Where a person has a disability which makes it likely that they will have more time off work than normally expected, a reasonable adjustment may be to accommodate the higher level of absence so long as it is not excessive.
In such cases it is appropriate to either:-

  • Set the trigger level at an appropriate figure higher than those above
    or
  • Agree not to use a trigger and instead, keep absence under constant review with a meeting to discuss absence being arranged at such time that it reaches a level which has significant impact on the staff members ability to do the job.

 

Both of the above adjustments apply only to absence which relates to the disability.  Absence for other reasons should be dealt with as for anyone without a disability so, whilst the trigger may not be in use, the reasons for absence must nevertheless be monitored.

 

4.15 Attendance Review Meeting (ARM)The manager’s goal should be to help each staff member to achieve full attendance or, if that is not possible, to take the appropriate action in each situation.This meeting should be between the manager and the staff member but may also involve other members of the senior team.

The meeting is obligatory but should not be intended, or to be taken, as a warning or a hearing associated with the disciplinary procedure.

 

4.16 Each case shall be assessed according to its circumstances.  The manager holding the ARM will take account of all aspects of the staff members attendance record to date and any known factors which are likely to affect future attendance. The result of an ARM may be any one of the following:-

  • No action (because the previous attendance record is excellent, the causes of recent absences are clearly genuine, understandable, unlikely to continue / recur etc)
  • Monitoring of attendance over the following period of 3 working months (because the previous attendance record is less than excellent and, whilst the reasons for recent absences are genuine, it is unclear whether or not absences will continue/recur and therefore monitoring is appropriate).

The level of attendance expected during the monitoring period will be set at the ARM by the manager at a maximum number of incidents and / or length of absence during the next 3 months.

This may be zero or a realistic figure where it is known and predictable that a current medical condition makes further absences likely.

 

4.17 It may be decided that a request for a medical report is needed if the nature of the medical condition underlying absences and / or its impact on ability to work needs clarifying. Please refer to the Homes Obtaining Medical Reports Policy.In this case the decision about a monitoring period will be taken when the report is received. 
  Reviewing the Attendance Monitoring Period (AMP)
4.18 During this period of 3 working months, attendance will be monitored against the levels set at the ARM.Any changes in circumstances or particular difficulties during this time should be dealt with appropriately. 
4.19 An AMP will be formally reviewed either at the end of 3  months or before that point if it becomes clear that required levels of attendance have not been achieved. 
4.20 If unsuccessful, the employee shall be required to attend either:

  • A stage one meeting under the Ill Health Capability procedure, where there appears to be an underlying health condition causing the poor attendance or,
  • A stage one meeting following the disciplinary procedure, with the focus on attendance. 
4.21 If the AMP has been successful, this should be acknowledged to reinforce the improvement, to show that it is important enough to be noticed and to encourage future good attendance. 
4.22 If, following a successful AMP absences start to return (causing a trigger to be activated again), the manager may be required to arrange a stage one meeting under the appropriate procedure 
4.23 It is hoped that through effective management and staff commitment, people who do experience periods of absence will be able to get back to full attendance.It is accepted, however, that this may not always be possible even when absence is due to genuine illness but has reached a level which can no longer reasonably be accepted.In such cases this may lead to a termination of employment.

 

4.24 Matters of ‘unauthorised’ absence will normally be dealt with using the Disciplinary Procedures. 
4.25 Work Related InjuriesInjuries sustained at work are always regrettable and the manager is committed to ensuring the safest possible environment.All injuries must be reported in line with incident and accident procedures.

 

4.26 The manager should assess the implications of minor injuries on a staff members ability to continue carrying out their normal role. 
4.27 Absence during pregnancyA woman has the right to paid time off to attend for antenatal care on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or health visitor.There will not be a requirement to make up work time missed.

The manager may ask to see the appointment card.

 

4.28 Absences during pregnancy due to pregnancy-related reasons should be responded to supportively and recorded in the same way as any other period of absence and, whilst Return to Work and Attendance Review Meetings remain appropriate in a supportive sense, Attendance Monitoring Periods would be inappropriate. 
4.29 After a woman returns to work from a period of Maternity Leave, any absences will be dealt with in the same way as any other absence but, when reviewing attendance, her absence record during pregnancy must be ignored.If the reason given for the absence at this stage is pregnancy-related, medical advice may be needed and the manager may need to seek advice. 
4.30

Disability

A disability may or may not be obvious and is defined as:

“a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities”

Progressive illnesses such as cancer, MS and HIV are regarded as giving rise to impairment from the moment they have some effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

In these cases the effect need not be continuous nor substantial.

 

It is our duty to take into account the special needs of disabled staff for remedial or medical care which may necessitate time off work.  We also need to take into account periods of time, due to mental or physical impairment, during which the staff member is reasonably absent from work.

 

This may involve making reasonable adjustments to enable the person to be off work for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment and may involve a higher than usual tolerance of time off and decision not to use the normal triggers.

 

4.31 RecordsAbsence related forms should kept in the individual staff members record file.  Records of absence should be kept by the manager in the office at the home. 

 

Training Required
5.0 Staff should be aware of the following:

  • The hours that they are required to work each week
  • The rota system in use in the home
  • The procedure for reporting sickness and absence
  • The requirement to notify the manager of any circumstances which may affect their ability to perform their normal duties

 

Signed:

 

Date:

 

Policy review date:

 

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