Sickness absence policy and procedures

Policy overview

We encourage our employees to maximise health and wellbeing.

We want to deal fairly with employees who are absent from work due to ill health. This includes for either short or long periods. This is in line with good practice shared by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

This policy aims to strike a balance between:

  • the pursuit of our operational needs, and
  • the genuine need of our employees to take time off work due to ill health

We want to raise awareness and increase the understanding of mental health conditions. As part of this commitment, we have signed up to the Mindful Employer Charter.

To give a choice to those suffering from a terminal illness, we have signed up to the Dying to Work Charter.

In supporting employees with health issues, we comply with the Equality Act 2010.


  • We will treat employees fairly and sensitively during times of sickness and ill-health. We encourage everyone to use the support mechanisms available to them.
  • Managers will maintain regular contact with you when you are absent. This will be by telephone, prearranged meetings or written correspondence.
  • Managers will hold return-to-work meetings with you following every period of absence. They will then gain an understanding of the reasons for your absences. This will cover any underlying health concerns and discussions about available support.
  • Managers will consider any advice that a doctor provides on a statement of fitness to work. They will discuss available support to help you return to work and to maintain attendance.
  • Managers can refer an employee to occupational health advisors for useful support and information. This may include counselling support. Wherever possible, they will offer this support at the earliest opportunity.
  • Employees are encouraged to use a personal support passport (PSP) to help them discuss and share information about personal circumstances which may impact them at work. This could be:
    • medical conditions
    • caring responsibilities
    • religious observance requirements
    • additional working equipment
  • Employees are responsible for actions to improve attendance and support their return to work. This includes attending appointments with occupational health. We advise you to:
    • obtain and follow medical advice and treatment as quickly as possible
    • avoid activities which could hinder or affect a prompt return to work
    • take advantage of council initiatives promoting good health where appropriate
  • We use 'trigger points' to decide when we need to take action over your sickness absence record.
  • When we apply trigger points, consideration will be given to absences related to:
    • pregnancy
    • disability
    • ill-health retirement
    • terminal illness
  • Managers will use the disciplinary policy when:
    • an employee fails to comply with absence reporting procedures
    • considering the reasons for absence
    • an employee does not provide satisfactory reasons for absence
  • We will use this policy in line with data protection legislation and the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988. 
  • We will handle information about your health and wellbeing sensitively. We will keep it as confidential as far as reasonably possible.
  • Twelve months refers to a rolling 12-month period. For example, on the first day of an absence, count back 12 months. Use this to calculate how many days absence the employee has had in a 12-month period. This will determine if the current absence results in a trigger point.
  • Long-term sickness absence usually refers to a continued absence of 28 calendar days or more.
  • Managers will decide whether meetings should be held in person or virtually or as a hybrid of both.