Policy Document

Absence Management Procedure

Principles and Aims of This Policy 

At the Preschool we encourage all our employees to maximise their attendance at work while recognising that employees will, from time to time, be unable to come to work due to sickness. 

By implementing this policy, we aim to strike a reasonable balance between the pursuit of our business needs and the genuine needs of the employees to take occasional periods of time off work because of illness. 

This policy and procedure establishes a framework to support individuals and the business in times of sickness absence.

 It ensures that appropriate and consistent advice is provided and that assistance and support is offered to employees and where necessary the appropriate action is taken. 

We aim to provide a healthy working environment and demonstrate commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of the staff in order to maximise their attendance and happiness.

Management is responsible for regularly monitoring and taking appropriate action in connection with sickness and other unplanned absences. 

Exclusion Periods for Contagious Illness 

Working with children means that staff can be in contact with illnesses that can be highly infectious more than others. 

We take the health of the children and staff very seriously, therefore if a staff member has a contagious illness they must adhere to the same exclusion periods that apply for the children. This will ensure that staff are able to recover properly and the risk of bringing the illness back to the setting is minimised. 

The manager will advise staff of the exclusion times required – this are outlined in the sickness and illness and infection control policies. 

Sickness Absence Reporting Procedure 

Reporting sickness absence should be done using the following guidelines. Failure to follow these guidelines could delay any sick pay due to a member of staff and could possibly result in disciplinary action.

One your first day of absence all staff must:

  • Telephone the Preschool and speak to the manager as soon as possible ideally 2 hours before start time. 
  • Speak to someone directly, text message and emails are not acceptable form of communication for this purpose.
  • Give brief details of illness and expected length of absence

If a staff member have been unable to determine how long the absence will last, and it exceeds the 3rd day, on the 4th day, the member of staff must contact the manager again. 

On returning to work staff must complete a copy of the “employee’s statement of sickness self-certification form”, this will be provided to staff by the manager and once complete should be signed by the manager. 

For absences of more than 7 consecutive days, staff must provide a “fit for work” certificate from their doctor. 

Returning to work

After returning to work form any form of sickness leave a “return to work interview” may be undertaken by the manager. This will not happen in all circumstances, and the Preschool may hold such meetings at our discretion. However, such meetings are normally held if:

  • Absence is longer than 14 days
  • The nature of the illness means that the duties of returning to work may need to be altered and clarification of this requirements will need to be discussed. 
  • When a staff member has had 2 or more absences in the last 12 weeks. 

During the return to work interview the following may be discussed: 

  • The reason for the absence 
  • Whether adjustments to the role ( permanently or temporally) could reduce the absences
  • Further requirements and expectations from the management regarding absences 

This return to work interview will be recorded and signed by staff and management, this is then placed into the member of staffs file. 

Where an employee’s attendance record gives cause for concern, because of the frequency/ duration of absences, this is something the management will need to act upon. Thought-out any stage of discussion regarding this issue employees have the right to and may invite another member of staff into these meetings. 

Abuse of sick leave and pay regulations may be considered misconduct and will be dealt with through disciplinary action. 

Frequent and/or persistent short –term sickness abuse 

Short term absence may be short periods of one or two days occurring frequently. 

Absence of this nature can be identified by one of the following indicators, this should be classed as a trigger:

  • 4 self-certified absences in one calendar year 
  • A total of 10 working days or more self-certified absence in one calendar year 
  • Patterns of absence over a period e.g. an individual regularly taking Mondays or Fridays off
  • Where an employee’s attendance record is significantly worse than those of comparable employees or absence problems have gone on for a considerable length of time. 

Long-term sickness absence 

For the purposes of this policy, long-term sickness absence is defined by the Preschool as absences lasting over one month. 

Where absences have lasted over 10 working days or more, the manager should contact the member of staff concerned to obtain an initial assessment of the problem and to offer any further help or assistance. 

At this point and where felt appropriate after further assessment of the problem, the manager will arrange a face-to-face meeting or a telephone conference between themselves and the member of staff. The meeting should: 

  • Seek to confirm the reasons and nature of the absence and its likely duration 
  • Ensure that the member of staff is aware of the nursery’s concern regarding their health and necessary absence from work.
  • Consider offering alternative duties or shorter working week if this would enable a quicker return to work – subject to medical advice.
  • Give consideration to any personal problems that are happening currently  and discuss possible ways the Preschool could help to resolve this 
  • Advise the member of staff that in their best interests they may be asked to see a registered medical profession or health occupational health adviser appointed by the Preschool to enable a medical report to be prepared
  • Alternatively, and if appropriate, gain agreement from the member of staff to contact their doctor or specialist in order to establish the likely length of absence and the long-term effect on capability in relation to the job performance and attendance to work. 

If all other avenues have been investigated, the absence continues or following a return to work the attendance record doesn’t improve a subsequent meeting should be arranged. At this point, unless reasonable grounds to believe there will be an improvement in the foreseeable future, the manager should inform the member staff that their amount of absence sick days may put their employment at risk and the possibility of termination of contract might have to be considered. Taking into account any evidence gather from the above avenues. 

Any decision to terminate employment will be taken on by the manging director along with the management time and only after making sure the capability procedure has been exhausted and every avenue explored to retain employment. 

Occupational health 

The Preschool reserves the right to request employees to attend an appointment with an occupational health advisor during their employment, if it is reasonably deemed due to sickness absence, changes in health or the role, or where it is necessary to seek an expert medical option as to whether or not the employee can fulfil their job role, and if any reasonable adjustments are to be made to the employees role. 

The Preschool will seek to engage the services of an independent occupational health advisor in situations where expert medical opinion is required, and work with them to identify the best course of action in circumstances of sickness absence. 

Access to medical records 

The Access to Medical Records ACT 1988 gives individuals the right of access to medical records relating to themselves which have been prepared by a medical practitioner for employment purposes the act provides that: 

  • Employers must gain the consent of employees before requesting reports from medical practitioners 
  • The employer must inform employees of their rights in respect of medical reports from medical practitioners 
  • Employees has the right to access the report before the employer sees it, provided appropriate notification has been given.
  • The employer is responsible for notifying the medical practitioner that the employee wishes to have access 
  • The employee may ask for a report to be amended or may wish to attach a statement to the report 
  • Having seen the report, the employee may wish to withhold consent to it being seen and supplied to the employer. 

Where the Preschool requests further information about the health of the staff from an individual’s GP or specialist. The provisions of the above act will be followed. 

Throughout any interviews regarding sickness absence, staff are entitled to the support of a/or representation work colleague or recognised trade union representative. 

Sick pay 

Statutory sick pay (SSP) will be paid in accordance with Department of Work and Pensions requirements and no payment will be made for the first 2 working days in a period of incapacity to work. 

Serious illness/ injury of employee’s immediate family 

This is looked at on an individual basis and the manager will agree a reasonable period of paid leave time initially, with unpaid leave if a significant amount of time off is required. Staff may also need to consider discussing making adjustments to their working week if this is a long term illness or family issue. Management will do their upmost to support staff at this time. 

Death of an employee’s immediate family. 

This leave applies on the death of an employee’s family member who they have a special connection with. Generally the amount of time given is at the managing director and management team’s discretion, but commonly 2 weeks paid leave is granted.