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(click on heading to go to Trust policy document if within the Trust)

1. Overview

This guidance document has been compiled to inform Consultants and Junior Doctors of their responsibilities in ensuring adherence to the trust absence procedures.

2. Responsibilities

The Trust requires all line managers (consultants in the case of Accident and Emergency) to monitor and record the sickness absence of their staff and to take appropriate action where necessary. Employees are expected to adhere to the sickness notification procedures.

3. Notification

All medical staff must telephone the duty consultant at the earliest opportunity prior to the commencement of the working day. This should be a minimum of 4 hours before the commencement of a working shift unless there are exceptional circumstances (e.g. car accident on way to work).

If the consultant is not available, or between the hours 22:00 and 0800, the registrar on duty in the department should be contacted. Only the consultant or registrar can take this message. 

If a message is left with the registrar, a contact phone number must be given and staff must expect that the duty consultant will call back on that number as soon as is practicably possible to discuss the absence.

It is not appropriate for anyone other than the individual concerned to make contact with the duty consultant (other than in exceptional circumstances). 

Doctors are accountable to the consultants and as such should inform them of the reason for absence and likely return to work date to enable the service to be planned accordingly. Any appointments, outstanding work or important information that may be required in their absence must be passed on at the time of the call.  

Following informing the appropriate registrar and/ or the Consultant the employee must inform the Absence Management Team within office hours at the first opportunity.  The department will also ensure that the Absence Management team are informed within office hours.

During the first week of absence, if the return to work date is unclear, staff should contact the duty consultant regularly to update them of any changes to the likely duration of sickness absence. Where it is clear that the sickness will continue, alternative arrangements may be agreed with the duty consultant.  The absence management team will contact the department for progress on the employee’s condition so that they can liaise with the Consultant to organise for appropriate cover i.e. locums. 

If doctors suffer a major injury at work (e.g. fracture, dislocation etc) or are absent / unable to undertake their “usual” duties for more than three days, as a result of work-related injury / ill health, they should inform their consultant immediately. Once the manager is made aware it is the consultant’s responsibility to contact the Health & Safety Advisers for further guidance. All incidents of work-related injury or ill health must be recorded via the Trust’s Adverse Incident Report Form.  Some categories of work-related injury / ill health are reportable to the Health & Safety Executive under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).  

Doctors seeking approval to leave work during a working day due to ill health may do so after discussion with their duty consultant.  This absence will be classed as a ‘trigger’ under the Trust’s Sickness Absence policy. 

If a doctor does not make contact on the first day of absence a consultant will contact the employee. If no contact is/can be made by either party by telephone, managers should make contact by letter in accordance with the Trust’s non-notification procedures and refer to HR for further advice.  (See Section 5 of this guidance)

Consultants should agree to keep in regular contact with their staff during their absence to ensure the employee is supported. 

4. Recording

Absence is recorded on locally held records and centralised employee database as:

Reason/duration

Recorded as:

Sickness (absence of less than 1 day)  -Uncertified

Sickness (absence of 1 to 3 days)  -Uncertified

Sickness (absence of 4 to 7 days) -Self certified 

Sickness (absence 8+ days)  -Medically certified (GP)

Unknown  -Unauthorised absence

 

Absence during any part of the working day due to sickness will be recorded as one episode of sickness absence. Any episodes of partial sickness absence should be recorded and explored in return to work interviews.

For the purposes of self-certified forms and medical certificates all days including days off, weekends and bank holidays are recorded as continuous sickness absence for the duration of the medical certificate. Medical certificates will be required from day 8 of sickness absence. 

If a doctor resumes work following days off, but informed their manager of their fitness to return prior to the days off, then the days will not be recorded as sickness absence.  

Where an individual is known to have a disability, disability-related sickness should be detailed separately from other sickness absence on locally held records in accordance with the Trusts’ Guidance.  Reasonable workplace modification to aide the employee whilst at work may be considered at the return to work interview.

Managers/consultants should ensure that the number of hours lost per working day/shift is recorded locally. 

Information will be recorded on the centralised employee database held by HR.

5. Documentation

For absences of 4-7 days, a self-certification form should be completed by the employee and received by their manager by day 7 of the sickness absence. This form is available on the intranet and from the department secretaries. 

For absences longer than 7 days in duration, a medical certificate is required. Employees are responsible for ensuring that medical certificates are obtained and run consecutively. If there are any gaps in the employee’s absence that are not covered by a medical certificate, these periods will be recorded as unauthorised absence and may result in non payment of sick pay.

Fully completed medical certificates should be sent to the line manager within 3 working days from issue. The certificate must cover the whole period of absence and the manager must be notified immediately when a new certificate is issued. It is the responsibility of the line manager to check this documentation. Late submission of medical certificates may result in the absence being recorded as unauthorised and non payment of sick pay.

If the medical certificate is incomplete and/or unsigned, it must be returned to the employee for completion.

If medical certificates are received from abroad it is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that their sick note is validated by their GP prior to sending in. If not validated by the employees GP, managers will make every effort to ensure the validity of any medical certificate which may include contacting the overseas clinic/GP.

A record of any contact, correspondence, self-certification documentation and medical certificates relating to the duration of the sickness absence should be retained by the line manager.

All employees have a contractual obligation to comply with the sickness notification and recording procedure in line with the relevant Trust Policy.  Failure to follow the notification and recording procedure, could lead to appropriate steps under the Trust’s Conduct and Disciplinary policy.  

For the purposes of this document; the definition of line manager refers to the Consultant. 

Staff will be informed of the appropriate person to report sickness to as part of their local induction and thereafter if are unsure, clarification should be sought. 

Once the Consultant has been informed the Absence management team are to be contacted within office hours.  (Sickness which has not been discussed with the Duty Consultant may be classed as unauthorised absence)

Sarah Sulcus  Ext: 75630  TROH

Anita Harris   Ext: 45279   NMGH

Michelle Heywood   Ext: 82064  Rochdale UCC and Fairfield

 

6. Return to Work Interview 

There is a Health and Safety requirement to ensure return to work interviews (RTW) are completed for all employees whom have resumed work following an absence. 

The purpose of the RTW meeting is primarily pastoral and takes place in an attempt to identify if there are any issues in the workplace which are affecting attendance.  It is also a means of ensuring consistency in the application of the sickness absence policy.

Once the return to work interview has taken place forms will be returned to the Medical Absence Team who will advise if any further action is required. If required a Human Resource Advisor will be contacted to support this process.

For completeness a copy of the RTW form is placed on the personal file and a copy given to the individual employee.

All episodes of sickness will be followed up by a return to work interview by an Emergency Department Consultant.

7. The Role of Occupational Health - Managing Expectations and Outcomes

The role of the occupational health specialist is to provide advice on the work-related issues that may be associated with a medical condition / absence. It is not to be confused with the role of the GP which is to manage the actual condition.  In this context occupational health specialists will routinely provide information to managers to help them to determine the reason for the absence / condition and whether or not an individual is fit to return to their job (with or without adjustments). Typically they will also identify the steps that managers should take to support an early return to work.

Where it is necessary to obtain further medical information prior to providing advice to managers, Occupational Health will, with the consent of the employee, liaise with the GP (or other medical specialists) prior to providing such advice. Where all the relevant information has been received, Occupational Health will provide advice upon which managers may be entitled to rely.

It is not always appropriate to refer to occupational health where absence relates to short unrelated absence matters. 

Referral to occupational health should be considered in the following circumstances (whether sickness absence has occurred or not):

i) If as a result of return to work interview or an attendance interview, the employee states that they have an ongoing health problem, which is the cause of their sickness absence;

ii) If  health problem causes repeated episodes of sickness absence;

iii) The employee states that their work is causing a health Problem;

iv) Where an individual states they are unable to undertake any part of their duty due to health problems;

v) The employee incurs sickness absence with stress or anxiety and immediate preventative actions are not agreed;

vi) If there is deterioration in the quality of an individual’s work, behaviour or persistent poor time keeping and they wish to preclude any underlying medical problem.

When referring an employee line managers need to observe the following

requirements:

i) All formal referrals to OHS must be made in writing (copied to the employee).

ii) Where possible, the manager must discuss the referral with the staff member before any referral is made, and the employee should be advised of the content of the referral letter.

ii) If individuals are referred for counselling by their manager, this is in confidence, and the manager will not receive a report from the Counsellor. Should the manager require a report concerning this employee’s health, a formal referral should be made to the Occupational Health Department. This will be dealt with in the normal manner, without breaching confidentiality.

Sickness Notification Form

Back to work interview

HMRC Self Certification Form