Sickness absence reporting and record-keeping arrangements

Data protection

All absence and medical records contain confidential information, regarded as ‘sensitive personal data’, and thus should always be administered in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the University’s policy on Data Protection. Managers would need to be able to justify the need to process any sensitive data (e.g. specific information about the employee’s medical condition) as per the statutory conditions of the Data Protection Act.

See also 'Retention periods for University personnel records'.

Notification of sickness absence

This procedure should be explained to all employees, especially those who are new to the University.

Basic procedures for notification of sickness are outlined in Section 4 of the staff handbook, but departments can supplement this with their own specific guidelines, including to whom sickness absences must be reported, relevant contact details and the preferred communication method.

It is the responsibility of the employee to notify their department if they are unable to attend work due to sickness, as soon as possible on the first day of absence. Employees must provide a reason for absence, and where possible give an indication of the date they expect to be back at work.  If an employee fails to provide such notification without good reason, sick pay (including payment under the University's scheme) will be withheld.

Employees who work from home or away from the department must follow the normal notification procedures.

For academic staff, please see the notification procedure here.
See also the special provisions that apply to employees with a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa.

Recording and monitoring absence

Why record and monitor sickness?

Recording sickness absence helps with the management of employees who are absent due to sickness, and ensures an accurate payment of both contractual and statutory sick pay.

It is important to know why an employee is sick, in case the cause could be work-related, or if reasonable adjustments are needed to help the employee return to work, as well as organise appropriate cover for the absence, if needed. Analysing sickness absence records can uncover any notable patterns or reasons for absence that could be caused by or exacerbated by work. Early intervention can increase the chances of a quicker return to work and minimise disruption caused by absences. Monitoring of sickness absence records will facilitate an early identification of any potential problems.

Guidance on recording sickness absence

A record of every sickness instance should be made, to include the date of notification of absence, the reason for it (by reference to the standard definitions as per the Sickness Absence Record form (on the right-hand side) and later, the date the employee returned to work. It is important that sickness absence records are completed accurately, and adhere to the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Sickness absence for employees working from home or away from the department should be recorded in the normal way.

Sickness absence from work for up to seven days - self-certification

If an employee is absent through sickness for up to seven consecutive calendar days, they should be asked to complete a self-certification form (Sickness Absence Record Form (122kb)) on return to work, which must be signed off by the manager and filed on the employee’s sickness record. False statements on this form could lead to prosecution (in the event of false SSP claim) and/or disciplinary action by the University. This form can be completed as part of the ‘Return to work discussion’.

Sickness absence from work for more than seven days - doctor's certificate (Fit Note)

If an employee is absent from work because of sickness for more than seven consecutive calendar days, a doctor's certificate ('Fit Note' - Statement of fitness for work) should be obtained and a copy sent to the department as soon as possible. The employee should continue to send in Fit Notes until the doctor decides the individual is fit to return to work (which could be on reduced duties). A ‘return to work discussion’ should take place upon the employee’s return to work.

A Fit Note is required for both the University sick pay and SSP purposes.