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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 a healthcare professional. That could be your GP, Nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists or a physiotherapist. Please note that Fit notes can only be issued following an assessment of a person’s fitness for work, so cannot be issued on request or via over-the-counter services. 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, Spectrum Life. Spectrum Life 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 Spectrum Life

Freephone UK: 0808 1962016

WhatsApp: text 'Hi' to 00353 87 369 0010

For more information

To find out more you can join the EAP monthly information session, hosted on the second Friday of every month at 9.30am, via:

Spectrum Life also have a wellbeing portal that gives you access to hours of wellbeing content related to sleep, mental health, fitness and nutrition among other topics. Supporting you with content on:

  • managing social connections
  • sleep health
  • home yoga class
  • making sure you are eating right
  • positive parenting tips
  • setting Up Your Remote Desk

Getting started with Spectrum.Life is easy!

Register online to find out more information about the service and to get access to hours of additional wellbeing content.

Organisation Code: LUTON

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, Spectrum LifeThis is another free service for you and your household.

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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

The Government recently published Living with Covid 19 setting out their plan to move away from deploying regulations and legal requirements to manage Covid 19 and towards managing Covid 19 like other respiratory illnesses. These new FAQ’s have been developed to answer the common queries.

Should I come to work if I have Covid symptoms?

There is no longer any legal requirement to test or isolate if you have symptoms (there are exceptions eg: those working in adult social care settings).

If your job can be done from home, please contact your manager to agree whether it would be preferable for you to work from home whilst you have symptoms or to take a test and come into the office.

If your job cannot be done from home, please contact your manager to check if you are required to take a test before attending work.

I work in Adult Social Care, should I come to work if I have Covid Symptoms?

No, stay at home and take a test, please follow the national guidance which includes information about how to access free tests .

Please also note the continuing requirement for asymptomatic staff testing - Staff should conduct 2 LFD tests per week, taking them before they begin work, spaced 3 to 4 days apart.

How will my absence be recorded and paid if I test positive for Covid?

If you are unwell and unable to work the absence will be recorded as, and paid as, sickness absence.

This will be recorded on Itrent as: Covid/isolating too unwell to work from home. If you are well and can work from home you will be paid normal pay. This will be recorded on itrent as: Covid/Isolation able to work from home.

If you are well but cannot work from home you will be paid normal pay. This will be recorded on itrent as: Covid/isolation well enough to work, role unsuitable to WFH.

A member of my household has tested positive for Covid, should I come to work?

Yes, you should attend work. If you have symptoms then please see the question and answer above.

I have Covid symptoms and a member of my team is at high risk from coronavirus, should I come to work?

Please contact your manager to agree whether it would be preferable for you to work from/stay at home/do a test whilst you have symptoms. They will conduct a risk assessment for the high risk from coronavirus employee. They may ask you to take a test, if so, the test will be provided for you.

More information about which conditions have been identified as high risk is available.

I have tested positive for Covid. How long should I isolate for?

You should isolate for 5 days then test again. You can return to work if you have a negative test result between day 6 and day 10. Otherwise return to work on day 11.

The current NHS advice is that you can pass on the virus to other people for up to 10 days from when your infection starts.

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