Sickness Policy



1.1 The College has an obligation to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on behalf of the Benefits Agency to all employees who are eligible to receive it. This policy explains regulations affecting entitlement to occupational sickness benefits and the effects of SSP upon these benefits.


2.1 An employee who is unable to attend work because of sickness must notify the College as soon as reasonably practicable and should comply with reporting arrangements in place within the College.

2.2 An employee returning to work after a period of sickness absence is required to complete a self-certification statement (available from the HR department and within departments), giving the reasons for absence up to and including the first seven calendar days. Failure to complete a self-certification form may result in loss of pay.

2.3 A medical certificate, completed by a recognised qualified medical practitioner, must be submitted for any absence which exceeds seven calendar days. Subsequent certificates must be submitted if the absence continues beyond the period covered by the initial statement. The length of absence covered by each certificate will normally be determined by the medical practitioner. Exceptionally, the College may require certificates at more frequent intervals.

2.4 Where the first medical certificate covered a period of more than fourteen calendar days, or where more than one certificate has been necessary, the employee may be required by the College to obtain a final certificate indicating his/her fitness to resume duties before returning to work.

2.5 The College may, at its discretion, accept certificates from Christian Science Practitioners.

2.6 An employee who goes into hospital or other similar institutions as an in-patient is required to submit a doctor’s statement on admission and on discharge.

2.7 When a member of staff is ill immediately before a period of planned leave, a medical certificate must be produced certifying fitness to return to work before the leave period can commence.

2.8 Where the College requires an employee to obtain a doctor’s statement solely for the purpose of qualifying for sick pay under this scheme, the College will normally refund any charge made for such a statement.


3.1 This scheme will apply to all employees of the College. The entitlement to occupational sick pay increases according to the length of the employee’s continuous service (see 3.2 below). The date from which continuous service will be calculated is as stated in the employee’s contract of employment.

3.2 Subject to the provisions of this scheme, employees will be entitled to the following periods of sick leave:

Service Sick Pay

During 1st year of service 1 month’s full pay and, after 4 months’ service, 2 months’ half pay

During 2nd year of service 2 months’ full pay and 2 months’ half pay

During 3rd year of service 4 months’ full pay and 4 months’ half pay

During 4th and 5th year of service 5 months’ full pay and 5 months’ half pay

After 5 years’ service 6 months’ full pay and 6 months’ half pay

Note: For the purposes of calculating entitlement to Occupational Sick Pay, ‘one month’ is equivalent to a calendar month.

3.3 For the purposes of this scheme, sick pay entitlement is based on service completed as at the first day of sickness. When determining payment for sickness, account is taken of all periods of sickness during the preceding 12 months as at the first day of sickness.

3.4 The College has the discretion to extend an employee’s entitlement to paid sick leave (on either full or half pay) in exceptional circumstances. In exercising this discretion, the College will take into account the seriousness of the case, and the likely beneficial effect of such action in relieving anxiety and therefore speeding recovery.

3.5 If the employee is entitled to receive SSP, or is in receipt of any specific allowances or benefits as defined (see Appendix 1), these will be offset against any entitlement to full pay.

3.6 Where the employee is entitled to receive half pay, the total sum of pay plus SSP, if appropriate, and any other benefits or allowances must not exceed full pay. If necessary, the half pay allowance will be reduced.

3.7 If a public holiday or an efficiency closure day occurs during a period of sick leave, the employee will continue to receive sick pay. However, no payment will be made for a public holiday which occurs during a period of unpaid sick leave.

3.8 In determining an employee’s normal pay for the purposes of the scheme, the College will include any regular paid overtime which is an express requirement of their terms of employment.


4.1 No allowance will be payable under this scheme in the case of accidents due to active participation in sport as a profession, or where the absence arises from, or is attributable to the employee’s own misconduct.

4.2 An employee who is absent as a result of an accident, will not be eligible to receive occupational sick pay if damages might be receivable from a third party. However, the College may pay the employee in advance, the amount of which will not exceed any entitlement under this scheme, subject to the employee signing an undertaking that the total amount of the advance pending an award will be refunded, or, if the damages paid are less than this total, the actual amount of the damages received. Where such an advance is refunded in full, the absence will not be recorded for the purposes of this scheme. Where only part of the advance is refunded, the College will decide the length of the period of absence which should be recorded after consultation with the employee.

4.3 Exceptional provisions apply to any employee who is injured as a result of a crime or violence in the course of their work for the College. These are detailed in Section A3 of Appendix 1.

4.4 A period of absence due to injury sustained by the employee in the actual discharge of his/her duties, and which is not attributable to any fault of his/her own, will not be recorded for the purposes of this scheme.


5.1 Payment of occupational sick pay will cease when an employee returns

5.2 If the College becomes aware that an employee may have failed to comply with any requirement under this scheme, or that he/she is guilty of conduct which might prejudice recovery, the payment of occupational sick pay may be suspended. In such circumstances, the College will invite him/her to make any observations. The employee will be given the opportunity to put his/her case before any appropriate committee of the College or Senior Manager, as provided under the arrangements in place at the College. It is decided that the employee has failed, without reasonable excuse, to fulfil the requirements of the scheme, or that he/she has been guilty of conduct prejudicial to recovery, then no further payments will be made in respect of that period of absence. The employee has the right to be represented by a representative of the recognised trade union or friend acting in a non-professional capacity.


6.1 The College may, at any time during an employee’s sickness absence, require the employee to meet with an independent medical practitioner. It is expected that there will be full cooperation between the employee’s own doctor and the independent medical practitioner. The purpose of this will be to determine how long the absence is likely to continue and to consider whether any reasonable adjustments could be made to facilitate a return to work by the employer

6.2 The College may send an employee and/or appropriate person to visit a member of staff who is absent at home, acting in the capacity of ‘Welfare Officer’. No visits will be made without the prior appointment having been agreed beforehand with the employee. During such welfare visits the employee has the right to be accompanied by a representative of the recognised trade union or friend acting in a non-professional capacity.

6.3 The College may require an employee who is unable to work as a consequence of illness to submit to an examination by a medical practitioner nominated by the College. In such cases. The provisions of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 will apply. Any costs incurred in connection with such an examination will be met by the College.


7.1 An employee who falls sick during annual leave will be regarded as being on sick leave from the date of the medical certificate and further annual leave suspended from that date. Where an employee is absent due to sickness, annual leave will accrue in the normal way.


8.1 The following outlines the procedure for managing situations where employees are taken ill whilst abroad and are unable to return:

8.1.1 The employee is required to follow the Colleges sickness notification procedure and must give their manager a contact address through which communications can be directed.

8.1.2 Statements to verify a certifiable period of illness should be obtained from a recognised medical practitioner or hospital consultant in the country in which the illness has occurred. This should be sent, by recorded mail, to the appropriate line manager by the eighth day of absence and at regular intervals thereafter. A statement of fitness to work on the termination of the illness should also be obtained if the employee is still abroad at that time.

8.1.3 If an employee returns to this country whilst still ill, s/he should immediately see his/her GP or hospital consultant for treatment and obtain another statement to verify the illness.

8.1.4 Where leave without pay is taken for holidays abroad, with or without the addition of paid annual leave, contracts of employment will be suspended for any illness occurring during the period of unpaid absence which will not come within the statutory sick pay scheme.

8.1.5 Employees are advised that (particularly with regard to the last item above), arrangements have been made by the Department of Social Security for claimants to be paid sick pay when taken ill in EU countries but this does not apply anywhere else and they should ensure their holiday insurance covers them for such eventualities.

8.1.6 All employees should ensure that the statutory sick pay procedure is carried out in full, as those who do not demonstrate every reasonable effort to comply with the requirements, will not be paid in accordance with sick pay provisions.

Appendix 1


1.1 The following allowances will be offset against any entitlement to full pay (see paragraphs 3.4

and 3.5):

 The gross amount of Statutory Sick Pay receivable under the Social Security

Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.

 The amount of incapacity benefits and SSP receivable as defined under the National

Insurance Acts and Regulations and the Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994.

 Any amount received as a treatment allowance. The dependency element only of the

treatment allowance will be deducted form sickness allowance. The employee will,

therefore, be entitled to retain the personal element of the treatment allowance.

1.2 All employees are obliged to declare to the College their entitlement to any benefits. If the

employee fails to do so, the College will be entitled to deduct the maximum such benefit



2.1 Where a widow or married woman has opted out of paying full National Insurance

contributions, the amount taken into account when calculating her allowance under this

scheme will be the amount equal to the total state benefit and SSP receivable had full

contributions been paid.

2.2 In the case of the widow or a widowed mother, when calculating the amount of sick pay

payable under this scheme, only those benefits which are additional to those which she

receives when she is in normal full employment will be taken into account.


3.1 Where an employee is absent because of an injury which results in a payment from the

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, he/she will not be required to refund any sick pay

received in accordance with this scheme.

3.2 Where an award has been made by the Compensation Board, the College may, at its

discretion, discount the period of sick leave occasioned by the injury when calculating any

future entitlement to sick pay under this scheme.

3.3 In exceptional cases where an employee is absent because of assault or serious injury

(including industrial disease and accidents on duty) suffered during the course of his/her duty,

the entitlement to full pay may be extended for a maximum period of nine months irrespective

of length of service.


4.1 An employee who is unable to attend work because of contact with a notifiable infectious

disease must notify the College immediately.


Sickness Absence Procedure

Final Draft – March 2001



1.1 A satisfactory level of attendance is crucial to the success of the College in terms of morale and the achievement of its objectives. Health related problems, including absence, can take a number of forms and it needs to be recognised that not all staff who are absent are ill, or all staff who are in work are fit. Members of staff may suffer ill health or personal stress to a degree which impairs their performance without it necessarily causing absence from work. When such factors may be present the matter must be approached with sensitivity and due attention to medical ethics.

1.2 It is important to recognise however, that a member of staff may be reluctant to disclose a health factor impairing his/her performance, or may be unaware of such a factor, at least initially. It is important that the line manager should try to establish the basis of confidence and trust which can lead to such matters being raised openly and addressed by the manager and employee. The confidentiality of any interactions or information is of prime importance and the wishes of the employee in this respect must be very carefully considered and are of the highest importance.

1.3 At any formal meeting with a manager convened under this procedure the member of staff may be accompanied by a trade union representative, or a friend acting in a non-professional capacity.

1.4 At any stage in this procedure the employee can be referred to or can request to be seen by the Occupational Health Advisor for assessment, advice or assistance. Any member of staff who has been absent for one month or more and in certain circumstances for less (in these cases the individuals will be contacted) must see the Occupational Health Advisor preferably prior to their return to work but no later than within the first two weeks of return.


2.1 After each period of sickness absence the line manager should hold an informal meeting with the employee to:

 welcome the employee back

 establish, where possible, the reason for absence and any associated pertinent matters the

employee wishes to raise

 establish whether the absence was work related and if so, to determine appropriate action

 enable the line manager to update the employee on developments during the absence

 review the absence record of the employee.


3.1 Where a series of short-term absences is identified the manager should consider:

 the reasons for the absences

 the pattern of absences

 the length of the absences and periods of attendance in between them

 the need for and costs of covering the employee’s work

 how the absence affects the service provided

 the employee’s own view and assessment of the situation

 whether an approach should be made to the occupational health advisor for advice or assistance

 consistency of approaches to sickness absence across the College

 any other relevant information.

Having regard to these factors the manager may decide to convene a formal interview with the member of staff under this procedure.

Formal interview procedure

3.2 At a first stage interview, the manager should discuss the employee’s attendance record with them, indicating that an improvement is hoped for. If appropriate it should be clearly indicated that the detrimental effects of the absences on the performance of the job are such that consideration may need to be given to the current role in the context of continued employment. A note should, at all stages, be kept of the date and time of the discussion, what is said and any salient points emerging or following from it. At this meeting an appropriate review period will be identified.

3.3 A second stage interview should be held by the manager with the member of staff to review improvement in the absence record. If there has been no satisfactory improvement in attendance the given reasons for absences must be investigated. This will normally involve assembling as much information as is available about the staff member’s attendance record and referring him/her for examination and report by the College’s Occupational Health Advisor. It may also be necessary to request information from the member of staff and their GP as detailed in section 3.5. The employee should, if appropriate, be cautioned formally, with confirmation in writing, that failure to improve attendance to a satisfactory level may lead him/her liable to dismissal. Following this interview, or at any later stage, the manager may require that medical certificates are provided for any period of sickness absence. The cost of such certificates will be met by the College. At this meeting an appropriate review period will be identified.

3.4 The staff member’s attendance record should continue to be closely monitored and, if reasonable improvement has not occurred, he/she should be interviewed again (third stage).

3.5 At the third stage interview any medical report received should be reviewed, the employee should be consulted about it and any views expressed about his/her health in relation to capability for doing the job in the future considered before any decision is taken whether:

 to accept the position and take no action

 provide more time for improvement in attendance

 a caution (NB not a disciplinary warning)

 offer redeployment

 to consider any reasonable alternative strategy suggested by the occupational health

advisory service

 or terminate the Contract of Employment.

3.6 If retirement on the grounds of ill health is a possibility, this should be implemented on the grounds identified in the procedure for long term absence which would include the possibility of medical retirement.

3.7 Unauthorised absence, timekeeping problems and absence during the working day may be treated as disciplinary matters.


4.1 Long term absence is absence which is covered by a medical certificate, where there is no anticipated return date.

4.2 It is impossible to specify in general terms a point at which consideration of termination of a contract should begin. Account has to be taken of:

 the needs of the organisation

 the circumstances of the individual

and the degree to which alternative measures can reasonably be taken.

4.3 Subject to any sound reason for not doing so, the staff member should then be referred to the College’s Occupational Health Advisor for a report on his/her condition and prospects. The employee should be asked to agree to his/her own general practitioner being contacted by the College’s Occupational Health Advisor who should be given the fullest possible information in order to reach a considered decision about the employee’s fitness for work. It needs to be recognised that the employee can refuse permission, demand access to the report and ask for amendments to it under the Access to Medical Records Act 1988. If however the employee refuses to allow his/her GP to be contacted a decision can be made in the absence of this information.

4.4 The College’s Occupational Health Advisor will consider whether the employee is now ready and fit to return to do the work for which he/she is employed or, if not, when it can reasonably be anticipated that he/she will be fit for it and whether any modifications/other arrangements may be necessary. Where modifications are to be made this will be communicated via the

Human Resources Department

4.5 If there is no satisfactory indication of a return to work in the reasonably foreseeable future,= the staff member should be consulted and advised that their continued employment may be at risk and that it may be necessary to propose to seek an independent medical opinion on his/her condition.

4.6 When the medical position is known, or the best information has been gained, management must decide the action to be considered. This may be:

 to accept the position and take no action

 the offer of suitable alternative employment where this exists or

 a ‘reasonable adjustment’ to the working arrangements or physical features to assist an employee or

 termination of contract.

A meeting should be held with the employee to discuss his/her medical condition and the effects of absence on the performance of the Contract of Employment, and any observations made by the employee considered before a decision to terminate the contract is taken.

4.7 If termination of contract is decided upon it should be implemented soon after the final consultation with the employee, with the provisions of notice on full pay and the provisions of the superannuation scheme for ill health retirements being applied, if appropriate.

4.8 Any termination of contract on the basis of ill health will carry with it the right to appeal.