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This page gives an overview to some of the issues surrounding reporting unfit for duty through sickness. Further information is available from your Federation representative or the Federation office at Dulwich.
Reporting sickness absence.
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- Managing sickness absence in the police service
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- Resume/Maintain paid sick leave
Each individual employee has a responsibility to attend work. If they are unable to attend due to illness or injury they are required to inform BTP, through the First Contact Centre (FCC) without delay. If the employee is unable to make contact personally in the first instance, this should be done through a friend or relative. Whilst sick, they must keep in regular personal contact with their first line manager,giving updates as to their progress towards recovery and the anticipated return to work date. Once sickness absence exceeds seven calendar days, the individual is responsible for obtaining a Statement of Fitness for Work (Fit Note) from their General Practitioner (GP) and forwarding it to their first line manager. This must be done as each Statement is obtained; they must not be collected and forwarded at the end of the absence. BTP reserves the right to withhold sick pay if a Statement of Fitness for Work is not produced. On the Statement of Fitness for Work the GP has the option to state that an employee is either 'not fit to work' or 'may be fit' for work if temporary adjustments can be made. They will indicate the recommended adjustments to enable an employee to return to work. Medical certificates are required throughout the period of sickness (after the initial seven days), and it is important that there is no break in the dates that they cover. On resuming work, for sickness absence periods of seven days or fewer, a Self Certificate of Sickness Absence Form must be submitted and forwarded to the first line manager.
When an employee reports sick, the first line manager is responsible for maintaining contact. The manager must make initial contact within 48 hours, or in cases of injury/assault on duty; 24 hours. Regular telephone contact will be the minimum expected of a manager. They must also ensure that the employee on sick leave is kept up to date by sending them payslips, general orders and staff magazines, etc. A home visit must be made by the first or second line manager, or other suitable nominated manager, prior to 28 days absence. The visit is not intended to put the individual who is sick under pressure and must be timed and conducted in a sensitive manner i.e. visits should be timed to avoid recognised meal times and recognised religious observance times and should not be made very early in the morning or late at night, particularly if an employee has carer responsibilities. A home visit to address attendance issues should not be made without the individual's agreement except for in exceptional circumstances i.e. if the individual is absent from work and there are serious concerns about their welfare and all other attempts to make contact have failed. Prior to the visit, the manager must ensure that they are in possession of all relevant details for the particular circumstances.
The employee, for a variety of reasons may not welcome a home visit.
When a person expresses concern, the manager must be sensitive and be able to suggest alternative arrangements. This may include a manager other than their first or second line manager undertaking the visit or meeting in a mutually convenient location. If at any point during a home visit an employee indicates they wish to terminate the visit, this should be accepted with a view to rescheduling the visit at a mutually convenient date and time. The provisions of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 - the right to respect privacy for private and family life; should be taken into account by managers when considering an employee's wishes in respect of a home visit.
Illness at work
If an employee attends work and then departs due to sickness provided they attended work for more than two hours this will not be counted as a sick day. If an employee attends work for less than two hours a full day sickness will be recorded. Sickness absences will not be recorded in half days. However the officer should record on their time-sheet that they have left work early. They will not be required to make up the hours missed for that day. If the illness continues on the next day a self certification form, where applicable, should be completed from that day. If there are two such occurrences of an employee attending work for more than two hours and then departing due to sickness in a 12 month rolling period then each subsequent occasion will be counted as a full day sickness absence.
Reporting fit for duty
Officers should ensure that their supervisor (or other nominated person) is informed of the days that they are fit to return to work. The employee must inform BTP through the FCC even if this is a rest day, Bank Holiday, or has been booked as annual leave. This will allow their manager to prepare for their return and also enable their sickness record to reflect their actual absence, ensuring accuracy for recording and sick pay. Where an officer is fit to return to work before the date given on a GP's medical certificate, they should obtain a certificate from their GP confirming that they are fit to return.
When an officer returns to work they will have a 'return to work' interview with a supervisor. Officers returning to work following sickness absence periods of seven days or fewer, should complete a Self Certificate of Sickness Absence Form which must be submitted and forwarded to the first line manager. If an individual returns to work and the ORIGIN Portal, Employee Self Service indicates that they have an opened ended sickness; they should ensure FCC has been updated. An individual has the facility to review their own sickness record within ORIGIN Self Service. Any queries should be made through ORIGIN Self Service and directed to the HRBC.
Alternatives to reporting sick
Officers should not report sick to meet personal or domestic needs. This would constitute misconduct. There are other options that can be discussed with a supervisor, such as taking annual leave, taking Toil, or discretionary / compassionate leave.
Payment of salary during long term sickness
A member of a police force who is absent on sick leave shall be entitled to full pay for six months in any one year period. Thereafter, the member becomes entitled to half pay for six months in any one year period. Officers who believe they may find themselves in this situation should contact a local rep or the Federation Office at Dulwich for advice, assistance and information relating to the Federation's insurance scheme.
The BTP retains the discretion, however, to extend the period of entitlement to, as appropriate, full pay or half pay. For further details as to how this would affect you, please contact the Federation office.
Sickness whilst on annual leave
If an officer becomes sick whilst on annual leave they should verbally inform the Force immediately if they wish to take sick leave rather than annual leave. The request shall be followed in writing. Thereafter the officer should follow the sickness reporting procedures as laid down above. Sickness cannot be reported retrospectively after returning from annual leave. Applications to have leave reinstated will only be considered where the sickness is supported by a Statement of Fitness for Work.
Attendance at court whilst sick
An officer who is required to attend court whilst on sick leave should do so, unless their GP submits a medical certificate indicating that they are not fit to attend. Officer who do attend court whilst on sick leave should not wear uniform during their court appearance, and should be given assistance with travelling to and from court if necessary, along with any other support required.
Permission to go on holiday whilst on sick leave.
Where an employee is absent through sickness and wishes to take annual leave(either individual days or for travel within the UK or abroad), this may be agreed by the Area Commander/Department Head if it is supported by a letter from the medical practitioner or OH Advisor, stating that it will not hinder the recovery process. Any annual leave taken will be deducted from the employee's annual leave entitlement and recorded as annual leave and not sick leave. Officers who fail to seek permission to take their holiday may be subject to disciplinary action.
Annual leave not taken due to long term sickness
Long Term Sickness - any period of continuous sickness absence of 28 calendar days or more.
An employee who is unable to take annual leave within the normal leave year because of long term sickness will be entitled to accrue outstanding annual leave forthat year. Accrued leave must be cleared by the 31 March of the following year, subject to exigencies of the service and with their manager's approval. Only in exceptional circumstances will accrual of any annual leave be extended beyond this, subject to agreement by the Area Commander/Head of Department.
Payment for an excessive accumulation of annual leave that has arisen as a result of a lengthy period of sickness absence will only be made in exceptional circumstances and only with the decision being made by their manager in conjunction with the HRBC. In such cases, payments will not normally exceed more than five days. Any additional outstanding leave would be carried over into the following year on the understanding that it needs to be taken by the 31 March or be surrendered; only in exceptional circumstances will the annual leave be extended beyond this, subject to agreement by the Area Commander/Head of Department.