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Luton Borough Council

Time off sick

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Understand your sick pay, reporting responsibilities, short and long term sickness absence, how triggers work, Covid-19 related illness and support available to you.

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Naturally everyone can get sick and when this happens the council offers generous occupational sick pay. However in return, we expect that all staff follow the sickness absence procedure.

During sickness absence you can be in receipt of full pay, half pay, statutory sick pay or no pay depending on:

  • how long you've been absent for
  • how many days paid sickness absence you had in the previous 12 months

Occupational sick pay is calculated on a rolling 12 month period. So on the first day of sickness absence, iTrent will see how many days full sick pay were paid in the previous 12 months.

If the whole entitlement to full pay has already been paid you'll be paid half pay. This explains why there are two different entitlements shown below for each year of service.

Occupational sick pay entitlement - non-teaching staff

During first year of service
One month full pay which equals to 30 days

Plus, after 4 months service
Two months half pay which equals to 61 days

During second year of service

  • Two months full pay which equals to 61 days
  • 2 months half pay which equals to 61 days

During third year of service

  • 4 months full pay which equals to 122 days
  • 4 months half pay which equals to 122 days

During fourth and fifth year of service

  • 5 months full pay which equals to 153 days
  • 5 months half pay which equals to 153 days

After 5 years' service completed

  • 6 months full pay which equals to 182 days
  • 6 months half pay which equals to 182 days

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid for up 28 weeks. Your entitlement to Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) and SSP runs concurrently. This means that you will only see SSP as a separate payment on your payslip for the period of time between full OSP finishing and when you have been off sick for 28 weeks. Read more about statutory sick pay on the GOV.UK website

When you're unwell it's important you keep your manager fully informed of the position if you're unable to work.

Day 1

On your first day of absence you should personally inform the designated person of your absence, by telephone, within service procedures. This is usually your supervisor or line manager.

You'll need to give a reason for the absence and let them know when you expect to return to work. You do not have to disclose the details of the nature of your illness if you feel too uncomfortable.

However, being open and honest and feeling able to communicate with your manager will enable them to:

  • support you in the most appropriate way
  • foster a happy and productive working relationship

Day 4

If the absence continues into a fourth day (including the weekend, rest days and public holidays), you should again notify your supervisor, line manager or the designated person by telephone.

You'll need to give some indication of the nature of the illness and the likely length of your absence.

Day 8

If your absence continues for more than seven consecutive days (including non-working days such as weekends) you must get a fit note from your GP. Send it to your line manager together with the completed self certification statement.

If the designated person is unavailable, then contact should be made with another line manager in the service area. If you're unable to reach a line manager personally you must telephone again until you make personal contact.

The only exception to this is if there is a pre-agreed arrangement with your line manager or if your health condition renders you unable to personally speak to the designated person. In this case your absence should be reported by a nominated third party such as a relative or friend.

More information about our sickness absence procedure can be found here.

We're all responsible to ensure we remain fit and healthy and that we don’t put ourselves or others at risk of illness or injury. The council recognises all sickness absence as genuine and discourage anyone to attend work if they're too unwell to do so.

However, trigger points are set particularly to:

  • identify support required
  • determine when absence levels become unsustainable for the council and therefore becomes a matter for further investigation

The council has set the following trigger levels:

  • 3 periods or 10 working days or more sickness absence in a rolling 12 months’ period
  • all long term absences (over 20 consecutive working days)
  • obvious patterns of absence, for example:
    • regular Friday and/or Monday absences
    • repeated absences linked to holidays

If your absence continues for more than seven consecutive days (including non-working days such as weekends) you must get a fit note from your GP.

Send this together with the completed self certification statement to your line manager.

Once a trigger has been hit, your manager will arrange an Attendance Review Meeting (ARM) with you. This is different from a Return to Work (RTW) discussion which happens when you return to work after any sickness absence, whether you have hit a trigger or not.

The ARM is an informal meeting aimed at finding solutions and supporting you to enable you to either:

  • return to work if you are still off
  • remain at work if you've recently returned from sick leave

At this meeting a target date will be agreed to aim for a supported return to work or, if you've returned already, help you achieve the acceptable level of sickness absence. Should this date not be met either a new revised date may be agreed or a First Formal Sickness Review Meeting will be arranged.

For more information about how the ARM, First Formal Sickness Review Meeting and Final Sickness Review Hearing is conducted and the potential outcomes from these, please refer to the sickness absence procedure.

For long term sickness absence (20 consecutive days or more) you can expect your line manager to contact you to agree a suitable frequency of contact during your absence. This may be weekly, every 2 weeks or monthly, depending on the circumstances of your absence.

This contact may include:

  • an update on your condition
  • the treatment you're receiving
  • diagnosis
  • some idea of when your medical experts think you'll be able to return to work

Your manager may advise you of the details of our employee assistance provider, Health Assured. Health Assured provide a free 24 hour telephone service to all staff which is totally confidential and independent from the council. What you discuss with them will not be fed back to management.

Access Health Assured

Login details:

  • Username: Luton
  • Password: Council
Call freephone: 0800 030 5182
Textphone users: dial 18008 followed by 0800 072 7072

They don’t just help with talking therapy but also provide advice on personal, family or work issues, financial problems and drink or drug-related issues.

Due to the time you've been off sick, or because your physical or mental health is impairing you from being your best at work, it is possible that your manager will refer you to the our Occupational Health (OH) team for:

  • a medical opinion on your current state of health
  • any support or adjustments that management can put into place
  • whether there is a foreseeable return to work

The sickness absence procedure states that if you are absent from work due to ill-health you are expected:

  • to be at home and available to be visited or contacted by your manager, OH or HR adviser as appropriate and as agreed
  • not to undertake any activity inconsistent with your illness
  • not to go away on holiday without the specific permission of your manager (please see paragraph below)
  • to attend any appointments with the council’s medical adviser, as required

Please note that failure to comply with a referral to OH without good reason, or any other breach of the sickness scheme, could be regarded as misconduct.

You still accrue annual leave during sickness and should you need to take annual leave whilst on long term sick this needs to be discussed and agreed with your line manager first.

If you've been unable to use your annual leave during your long term sickness absence, you may be able to use it to facilitate a phased return to work or, in rare circumstances, carry it over to the next year.

Depending on the reason and length of your absence, we'll discuss and agree with you:

  • a phased return
  • reasonable adjustments
  • any other support you may require to enable you to return to work safely

A Return to Work (RTW) discussion will always be conducted after every period of sickness absence on the day you return to work. The majority of discussions will be very quick and straightforward, acknowledging your illness and a welcome you back to work.

The RTW discussion is all about supporting you and helping you to resolve any potential problems.

The self-certification section on the RTW form needs to be completed after each sickness absence.

Our values are all about being a caring council. Caring towards our residents, our colleagues, the environment and caring about our employees. Without our people, people like you, we wouldn't be able to do what we do.

But in order for you to do your role effectively, it's important you look after yourself.

As mentioned in the 'returning to work after illness' tab above, it's possible that your manager will refer you to our Occupational Health (OH) team. This could be:

  • due to the time you've been off sick
  • because your physical or mental health is impairing you from being your best at work

We've teamed up with a wellbeing service provider called Total Wellbeing Luton (TWL). They can support you with all things related to health and wellbeing, such as:

  • quitting smoking
  • losing weight
  • health checks
  • support with mental health
  • non-medical aspects of health

It's a free service for Luton residents and staff. Please visit the TWL website for more information.

Your manager may advise you of the details of our employee assistance provider, Health AssuredThis is another free service for you and your household.

Login: username: Luton / password: Council

They provide a free 24 hour telephone service and it's totally confidential and independent from the council. What you discuss with them will not be fed back to management.

They don’t just help with talking therapy but also provides advice on:

  • personal, family or work issues
  • financial problems
  • drink or drug-related issues

To reduce the carbon footprint where possible and at the same time look after your health Luton has partnered up with Cycle Solutions, who offer a cycle purchasing scheme that enables you to obtain a bike and/or cycling accessories.

It's a hire scheme, with the cost of the bike and equipment being taken from your monthly salary before income tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted. This saves you money and isalso known as salary sacrifice.

More information about this can be found in the Cycle Solutions staff guidance document

Luton has also teamed up with Active Luton and can offer you a corporate membership at preferential rates including unlimited gym, swim & fitness classes. For more information contact: [email protected] quoting ‘corporate membership’.

You can use flexi time to attend appointments with, for example, your dentist, solicitor, orthodontist, optician, podiatrist, or other consultation appointments. Let your manager know about the appointment in advance.

Medical appointments should, wherever possible, be booked in your own time (for example first thing in the morning or at the end of the working day). Where this is not possible, accrued flex leave, annual leave or unpaid leave can be used.

Please refer to the flex time and time off in lieu (TOIL) scheme.

We allow a reasonable amount of disability leave, both paid and unpaid, to employees who have a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010.

You'll need to request that via iTrent self service if you need time off from work:

  • for disability leave
  • for a cancer screening
  • to make a bone marrow donation

This time is paid but there are restrictions and conditions of how much and when this type of leave may be utilised.

See sections 14, 15 and 16 respectively of the compassionate and special leave procedure.

Compassionate and special leave request form

Take a test if you're coming into work

We recommended that you take rapid lateral flow (RLF) tests if you're returning to the workplace:

  • twice weekly (every 3 to 4 days) if you're returning on a regular basis
  • take a test the day before for less frequent visits

See GOV.UK for the most up to date advice.

Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms or a positive lateral flow test result should stay at home and self-isolate immediately.

You should arrange to take a PCR test immediately regardless of whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

Please read the latest government guidance regarding the length of isolation period.

Those identified as a close or household contact must follow these rules.

Fully vaccinated adults, those medically exempt and those aged under 18 years and 6 months, even those without symptoms
You must do daily rapid lateral flow tests every day for 7 days or until 10 days since your last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 if this is earlier. If you test positive, isolate and book a PCR test.

If you're not fully vaccinated
You must stay at home and self isolate. Please book a PCR test and read the latest government advice regarding isolation periods.

You'll need to inform your manager of your positive COVID-19 PCR test and be prepared to show evidence of that. If you can work from home during this isolation period you and your manager will agree this.

Absence due to self-isolation will be paid as normal and will not be counted for the purposes of sickness absence triggers, provided that evidence of a positive PCR test or message from test and trace is provided.

If you're unwell and cannot work, short term sickness absence due to Covid and evidenced by a positive COVID-19 PCR test, will not count for the purposes of triggers when applying the sickness absence procedure.

If you're absent long term due to Covid, the normal sickness procedure will apply and sick pay may not be paid after it has expired according to your entitlement.

During these ever changing times, staff are all aware of the risks with travelling abroad in terms of quarantine, becoming stranded or ill.

Therefore, any travel abroad needs to be discussed with your line manager well in advance of booking or travel. You must discuss any additional annual leave needed for any required quarantine whilst you await, for example, your day two PCR test result. Read the latest latest government guidance regarding travelling abroad.

There are currently no countries on the red list however that could change swiftly and employees are expected to take that into account when planning travel. Should you be required to quarantine either abroad or once back in the UK then if you can work from home this will be paid. If you cannot work from home the time will be unpaid or you may be able to utilise some of your annual leave.

If you test positive whilst abroad or upon your return to the UK your manager will request evidence of a positive PCR test before authorising pay. If you cannot supply evidence then any additional time out of work due to travelling abroad or becoming stranded will be unpaid and unauthorised.

© 2022 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ