Absence (General and Health-Related)

Applicable to employees of the Central Academic Bodies and central activities of the University of London (the "central University") and University staff deployed to Health Education England.

All employees are contractually required to notify the central University at the earliest opportunity if absent from work without prior authorisation and inform the Head of Division (or their nominee) of the reason for their absence and its expected duration.

1 Unexpected Absence
2 Unauthorised Absence
3 Ill-Health
4 Managing Unacceptable Absence Levels
5 Managing Health
6 Detailed Guidance on Absence Related to Health

1 Unexpected Absence

If an employee fails to report for work unexpectedly without contacting the Head of Division, our first concern must be for the individual’s safety and wellbeing.  It is important not to assume that absence is unauthorised or for some illegitimate reason at this stage.

The first step is to attempt to contact the employee.  If you do not hold contact details locally*, Human Resources will attempt to establish contact on your behalf using the details lodged with them.

*Please also see the section on Contacting Employees Outside of Work

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2 Unauthorised Absence

If the employee is absent without prior authorisation and without good reason, pay may be deducted and/or disciplinary action taken.  Please notify Human Resources in all cases of unauthorised absence.

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3 Ill Health

Employees who are unable to attend work due to illness (including injury or other disability) must notify their Head of Division (or their nominee) without delay.

Health data is sensitive and employees are not required to give specific details of the nature of their ill-health to a line manager or Head of Division except where this is necessary for health & safety purposes (such as in catering provisions).

Employees are required to submit certification to cover any period of absence – a self-certificate for periods of absence up to 7 calendar days and/or a medical certificate for periods of more than 7 calendar days. 

Employees are not permitted to return to work before their medical certificate expires unless their Doctor first signs them off as fit.  Similarly, employees may not normally return to work after medically certificated absences of more than three weeks without presenting evidence that they are now fit for work.

Certification is expected to be submitted by the employee direct to the Human Resources (and not through the line manager or others).  Due to the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and our policies in respect of sensitive data, no line-manager or Head of Division may require an employee to show them a medical certificate.

Heads of Division are required to maintain such contemporaneous records of absence as necessary to meet the requirement to check the monthly absence data compiled by Human Resources.

Managers will hold return to work interviews following all periods of sickness absence.

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4 Managing Unacceptable Absence Levels

Ill-health is not a disciplinary issue.  However, an unacceptable attendance history is legitimately a subject of concern to the employer and may in some circumstances mean that employment cannot continue.

The point at which sickness absence becomes unacceptable will depend upon several factors (including known health problems, the working environment and whether the absence is of a single, long period, or multiple single-day absences etc).  Nevertheless, where average sickness levels exceed two weeks per annum, there may be a cause for concern.  The Head of Division also needs to have regard to the impact on other staff in the Division, including the impact on those individuals’ health and safety resulting from stress.

If you are concerned about the sickness absence of a particular member of staff and / or sickness levels in your Division generally, please contact the Deputy HR Manager for advice and guidance.

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5 Managing Health

The central University has a duty of care to the health and safety of its employees.  If you have any concern for the health of an employee or their ability to undertake their work safely as a result of a health problem (whether known or suspected), please contact the Deputy HR Manager immediately.

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6 Detailed Guidance on Absence Related to Health

Revised administrative procedures for reporting and certificating sickness and other health-related absence were introduced from 1 August 2005.

Detailed guidance documentation for both managers and employees is available from the intranet here.

The guidance includes information about a range of health-related absence including infectious/contagious disease, injuries sustained at work, medical and dental appointments, ante-natal appointments and care for dependents.

Self-certification forms should be available from your Division in both printed MS Word and PDF  formats, but can also be obtained from HR or downloaded from our intranet pages here (PDF,1 pg,153 KB).

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Downloadable Version

Absence (General and Health-Related) [PDF 3pgs 196kb]