To note and approve the updated HR
The Committee received a Report on the Policy Review – Managing Sickness Absence. Following the Council Wide Support Service Review, the Council’s Employment policies were all in the process of being reviewed and updated to reflect modern working practices, legislative changes and to ensure the policies are clear for managers to follow.
The sickness policy was one of seven policies/procedures in the process of being updated. They were originally due to come to the committee at the same time, however they required further work and revision and would be brought back to the Committee once the revision was completed thoroughly and, in a format, and content that officers were happy with and reflected the feedback from staff, managers and the Unions. It was expected that at least one or two policies or procedures would be brought to the Employment Committee over the next twelve months.
The updated sickness policy aimed to formalise working practices to supporting staff, such as the use of iWork and more details of staff phased return to work
It was reported that at the Local Joint Committee that UNISON were not happy with the wording around not paying full pay after a phased eight week return. The Head of HR and Employee Experience stated that the Council did not have a major issue beyond this time scale and that this was not a new timeline in the policy and as part of the consultation undertaken in the summer, managers and staff had requested that the timeline be clarified within the policy. This was the current practice and application of the pay subsidiary. However, UNISON had felt that there was no medical consideration within the policy surrounding the phased return issue, and that serious illnesses and accidents didn’t seem to be take in to consideration. They also felt that the policy should not be related to finances as this could put individuals at risk therefore they were not in agreement with the policy and would inform their members accordingly.
As a result of the Members’ comments and questions, the following points were made:
· Individuals were able to enter their own sickness absence onto iWork. It was the managers responsibility to ensure that this was completed. If an individual didn’t enter their sickness themselves, managers could enter the information on their behalf.
· Members’ of the committee were content with the phased return to work wording as it was and felt that even after UNISIONS comments that it did not need to be amended.
· Some Members’ felt that the eight-week full pay was rather generous and covered a longer period than in the corporate world.
· This wasn’t a change of policy, nor was it being assumed it was just clarifying the current practice.
· Benchmarking data could be sought if Members’ required it.
· Sickness data was reported in the QSRs.
· Employees didn’t have a statutory right to bring a representative or colleague at Stage one of the disciplinary process, but it was often granted at stages two and three. In certain situations, it would be granted that a family member could attend with the employee.
i) the Employment Committee note and approve the updates to the Managing Sickness Absence Policy.
ii) the Employment Committee note the wider full policy review of main
iii) the Employment Committee note the requirement to continually review
policies in paragraph 5.4 and delegate minor policy updates to HR and CMT.