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Long Term Ill Health - Policy & Procedure

  1. Introduction
  2. Disability Leave
  3. Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure
  4. Managing Long-term Ill-health and Absence
  5. Exceptional Circumstances
  6. Ongoing Management and Support
  7. Where Suitable Alternative Posts Cannot be Identified or Agreed
  8. Consideration of Capability Dismissal on Grounds of Ill-health
  9. If the Member of Staff does not Oppose the Consideration of Potential Dismissal
  10. Cases of Dismissal
  11. Notice
  12. Right of Appeal
  13. Ill-health retirement
  14. Arrangements in respect of the Principal

Introduction


1.1       The University of Dundee promotes a positive approach to the management of members’ of staff health and wellbeing.

1.2       Typically, during any period of absence from work, the University’s facilities will be available to the member of staff e.g. access to the Library and Learning Centre; the Institute of Sport and Exercise, the member of staff’s email account.

 1.3       In addition, the University operates a Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure in which the methods of
supporting staff and assisting their rehabilitation and re-entry to the workplace following a period of sickness absence (e.g. phased return; job modification; flexible working patterns etc) is outlined:

http://www.dundee.ac.uk/hr/policiesprocedures/absence/sicknessabsencemanagementpolicyprocedure/

The Sickness Absence Management Policy will apply when staff experience ill-health or injury which, when supported by reasonable adjustments, enables them to continue work and undertake duties.

1.4       The University is affirmative about the employment of staff with disabilities whether they have a disability when they join the University or acquire a disability during the course of their employment.  The support the University offers is contained in:

http://www.dundee.ac.uk/hr/policiesprocedures/disabilitysupportforstaff/

1.5       The Long-term Ill-health Policy and Procedure provides a framework for dealing with situations where a member of staff is unable to perform their job, due to long-term physical or mental health conditions.

1.6       Members of staff with disabilities will be assessed by Occupational Health (OH) and they will make reference to the member of staff’s own medical advisors, with the member of staff’s permission.

1.7       Managing long-term ill-health cases is a progressive process for management in consultation with Human Resources (HR); OH; the member of staff’s medical advisors.

1.8       In all cases of long-term ill-health, the member of staff will be entitled to be accompanied by their trade union representative or work colleague at meetings with management and/or HR.

1.9       The provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and other relevant employment legislation will be observed throughout the process.

1.10     Where it is necessary for a member of staff to leave the University’s employ due to ill-health, this is referred to, in law, as a capability dismissal on grounds of ill-health.

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Disability Leave

 

2.1       The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that has substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal daily activities. The definition includes people with hidden disabilities (such as diabetes, epilepsy, mental health).  People with cancer, HIV and MS are automatically covered by the Act.

2.2      Where staff are absent as a result or consequence of their disability, the absence will be counted separately from sickness absence and will not be counted towards the trigger points in the University’s Sickness Absence Management Policy (or other any rights related to service).

2.3       Disability leave has a wide range of possibilities, including appointments, treatment, therapy, recuperation, counselling, training or retraining, assessments and, where appropriate, awaiting reasonable adjustments being made. Alternative therapies, where recommended by a medical professional would also be relevant.

2.4       OH will make the distinction between disability-related absence and sickness absence when providing advice on a member of staff’s condition to HR and line management.

2.5       Should a manager of a member of staff who has a disability needs advice on disability leave they should contact their HR Officer.

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Sickness Absence Management Policy & Procedure

 

3.1       In accordance with the Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure and the National Institute for Health and
Clinical Excellence (NICE) definition, a period of absence lasting for 4 consecutive weeks or more will be considered a long-term absence.

3.2       Typically, when a member of staff has been absent for 4 weeks continuously (if not before) the line manager will contact the HR Officer to consider whether it is appropriate to meet with the member of staff, depending on circumstances, in order to assess the situation and decide whether a referral to OH is appropriateIndividual circumstances will be taken into account if the member of staff is unable to attend an appointment with OH.

3.3       The purpose of the OH health assessment is to understand the member of staff’s health condition from an employment
perspective and to ascertain whether it is possible to initiate action that will facilitate the member of staff’s return to work taking account of any reasonable adjustments necessary: http://www.dundee.ac.uk/hr/policiesprocedures/disabilitysupportforstaff/

3.4       Taking account of medical advice where this has been obtained with the member of staff’s permission, OH will assess: 

3.5       Following receipt of the OH report by HR, a  meeting will take place between the member of staff, line manager and the HR Officer.

3.6       Very long-term ill-health may not be identified at the outset so the line manager; OH; and the HR Officer should jointly agree a follow-up regime involving all of them, together with the member of staff and representative, if wished, to monitor the case and ensure that appropriate action is taken at the right time.

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Managing Long Term Ill Health and Absence

 

4.1       When the member of staff moves to half pay (the date will depend upon their length of service) a meeting involving the
member of staff and their trade union representative or work colleague (if wished), the line manager and the HR Officer must be convened to advise the member of staff of the potential consequence if they continue to be unable to undertake their job (see 3.5).

4.2       It is the University’s obligation to highlight to the member of staff the consequences of being unable to return to work.

4.3       To ensure consistency of practice, all members of staff will be entitled to a period of 6 months following their transfer to half pay during which OH, the line management and the HR Officer will work together with the member of staff and representative (if wished) to facilitate their return prior to consideration being given to the possibility of their being dismissed on grounds of capability.  During the 6 month period pay will be in accordance with the member of staff’s entitlement to sick pay as specified in their contract of employment, and therefore, there may be a period of time when the member of staff is not in receipt of pay if this has expired prior to the end of the 6 month period.

4.4       The member of staff must be advised that they may be accompanied to the meeting arranged at the half-pay point by their
trade union representative or a work colleague.

4.5       The points that must be made to the member of staff at the meeting initiated by transferring to half-pay are: 

4.6       Following the meeting, a letter outlining the content of the meeting and specifying end date of the 6 month period,
should be sent to the member of staff by HR.

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Exceptional Circumstances

 

5.1       The University reserves the right to exercise discretion in certain cases, for example, where a member of staff has a terminal illness, or where they have a serious illness or condition but will be able to return to work a short time after the 6 month period has elapsed, as indicated by the medical advice.

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Ongoing Management and Support

 

6.1       The line manager, HR and OH will continue to be active in meeting with the member of staff, providing advice and facilitating their return to work by providing reasonable adjustments in the short or longer-term, where possible.

6.2       If the member of staff has been unable to return to work after the 6 month period (see 4.3) has expired, a further OH
appointment will be required.

6.3       Taking account of the recommendation from OH if appropriate, the line manager and HR should determine whether it is
possible to make the suggested modifications to the member of staff’s present post, or whether a suitable alternative post can be identified which would fit the member of staff’s capabilities (e.g. a member of staff with musculoskeletal disorders may be unable to undertake certain physical tasks but could be redeployed and/or retrained for an alternative role).

6.4       The initial responsibility is for the line manager, in conjunction with the Dean/Director, to consider alternative posts within the School or Directorate. If no suitable opportunity can be identified the HR Officer will become involved in looking for opportunities across the University.

6.5       A further meeting  will be arranged with the member of staff involving the line manager and the HR Officer as soon as possible after receipt of the up-to-date OH advice.

6.6      The member of staff must be advised that they may be accompanied to the meeting by their trade union representative or a work colleague.

6.7       The purpose of the meeting is to review, with the member of staff and their representative (if wished), all the available information and any options such as job modification, redeployment or any other alternatives.

6.8       If a solution is identified, which is acceptable to the member of staff, it will be offered, in writing, to the member of staff by the HR Officer and, if accepted, HR will produce the documentation for any necessary contractual changes.

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Where Suitable Alternative Posts Cannot be Identified or Agreed

 

7.1      If it is not possible to: 

         and if the 6 month period (see 4.3) has expired it may be necessary to consider a capability dismissal on grounds of ill-health.

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Consideration of Capability Dismissal on Grounds of Ill-health

 

8.1       If a member of staff is not agreeable to the arrangements outlined in section 7, they will be entitled to have their case heard by a panel.

8.2       For staff in categories: academic related; research; clerical; technical and manual, the panel members will comprise: 

For academic staff previously covered by Statute 16 i.e. Lecturer (Teaching & Research); Lecturer (Teaching & Scholarship; Senior Lecturer (Teaching & Research); Senior Lecturer (Teaching & Scholarship); Reader and Professor, the panel members will comprise: 

 8.3       A letter will be issued to the member of staff by the HR Officer arranging for the member of staff to attend a meeting to consider a capability dismissal on grounds of ill-health.

8.4      The member of staff must be advised that they may be accompanied to the meeting by their trade union representative or a work colleague.

8.5      Medical or OH reports will be made available to the members of the panel with the written permission of the member of staff. 

8.6       In the absence of such permission the panel members will hear the evidence produced for, and at, the hearing.

8.7       If the member of staff refuses to make their medical evidence available the panel will have no alternative but to make a decision on the information it has available which may not be in the member of staff’s best interests.

8.7      Where there is conflicting medical advice the panel will adjourn the meeting and request that further medical evidence be presented.

8.9      At the meeting, evidence will be heard from the line manager responsible for managing the case, the HR Officer and the member of staff whose dismissal is being considered as well as the member of staff’s representative (if wished).  As a confidential service OH will not be represented.

8.10     The member of staff will have the right to state their case and version of the situation to the panel.

8.11     If the member of staff is not able to attend the meeting, or does not wish to do so, they may submit their case in writing or request that the panel consider meeting with an advocate to speak on their behalf (i.e. their trade union representative or a work colleague).

8.12     The panel may interview witnesses suggested by either party or receive written statements from them (to be available to the panel 5 working days prior to the meeting); interview any other person they believe would augment the evidence and/or adjourn to collect more evidence, if considered necessary.

8.13     The member of staff and their trade union representative should make every effort to attend the meeting.  If they are unable to attend, a date will be re-scheduled normally within 5 working days of the original date.  If the member of staff continues to be unavailable to attend the meeting, the panel will have discretion to decide to proceed with the meeting on the evidence available.

8.14     Any reasonable adjustments will be considered to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability: the member of staff, members of the panel or attendees.

8.15     The panel will decide whether the member of staff will be dismissed, or not. If not, the panel can decide to recommend any action they believe will address the situation.

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If the Member of Staff does not Oppose Consideration of Potential Dismissal

 

9.1       There may be circumstances when the member of staff acknowledges that the length of their absence and potential continuing absence makes it difficult for the University to continue to employ them and they do not oppose their potential dismissal being considered by the University.

9.2       If this is the case, following a written notification of the dismissal process by the HR Officer, the member of staff should indicate, in writing, to the HR Officer that they understand the position and do not oppose dismissal, if this is management’s decision.

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Cases of Dismissal

 

10.1     If dismissal is decided by the panel, the panel will meet with the member of staff, if the member of staff wishes, together with their trade union representative or work colleague (if wished) to explain the reason for the decision.  If the member of staff does not wish to attend this meeting, it is not compulsory and the Chair of the panel will, in any case, write to the member of staff.

10.2     The Chair of the panel will write to the member of staff, communicating the outcome of the meeting and the reasons as quickly as possible following the meeting and the letter will detail notice arrangements and the right of appeal.

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Notice

 

11.1       Paid contractual notice, based on their FTE-related salary, will apply in such cases where dismissal is decided.

11.2       Any outstanding annual leave accrued will be paid, up to the date of leaving.

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Right of Appeal

 

12.1     The letter which communicates the decision to dismiss the member of staff must contain details of their right of appeal.

12.2     The appeal against the decision to dismiss should be submitted, in writing, to the University Secretary within 10 days of receipt by the member of staff of the written notice to dismiss them unless in exceptional circumstances such as serious illness or bereavement when a delay can be agreed.

12.3     On receipt of an appeal, the University Secretary or his/her delegated nominee will set up an Appeal Committee:

For staff in categories: academic related; research; clerical; technical and manual, the panel members will comprise:

12.4     The member of staff has the right to be represented by a trade union representative or a work colleague throughout the appeal process.

12.5     The Appeal Committee will hear the appeal within 5 weeks or within the contractual notice period, if sooner.

12.6     Both the University representative (the Chair of original panel which decided on dismissal) and the appellant will submit to the University Secretary a written statement of case and names of witnesses they have arranged to call no later than 5 working days prior to the date of the Appeal Hearing.

12.7     The statements of cases and names of witnesses from both University management and the appellant will be copied to the other party and both cases and sets of witnesses’ names will be passed to the members of the Appeal Committee prior to the Appeal Hearing.

12.8     The member of staff will have the opportunity to state their grounds of appeal.  Where the member of staff is unable to speak on their own behalf their trade union representative or work colleague will be entitled to speak on their behalf, if they so wish.

12.9     At the Appeal Hearing the appellant and/or representative will be invited to present their case first, followed by the University’s management representative(s).  The Appeal Committee members may ask questions of either or both parties and both parties will have the opportunity to cross-question the other. The Appeal Committee will decide, at its discretion, the order of proceedings regarding witnesses’ evidence and procedural matters.

12.10   The Appeal Committee will decide whether the decision to dismiss is upheld, or not.

12.11   The Appeal Committee’s decision will normally be communicated to the appellant within 7 working days of the Appeal Hearing.

12.12   The decision of the Appeal Committee is final and there is no further right of appeal.

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Ill-health Retirement

 

13.1     If the member of staff intends to apply for ill-health retirement, they must take personal responsibility for initiating the application for ill-health retirement during the 6 month period following their transfer to half pay. The end date will have been specified in the letter they receive at that time (see paras 4.5 and 4.6). Their HR Officer can provide assistance in making an application, on request.

13.2     In cases where a member of staff’s long term ability to work is significantly affected by ill-health, they may be eligible for ill-health retirement if they are a member of a pension scheme.  The different pension schemes have different rules in relation to eligibility for ill-health retirement benefits and it is the pension scheme’s, rather than the University’s, decision as to whether an ill-health pension is paid.

13.3     An aspect of applying for ill-health retirement involves obtaining medical reports (typically two) which can be considered by the relevant pension scheme. Where the medical reports conflict, a third report will be obtained from a mutually agreed medical specialist. The University will meet the fee for the third report.

13.4     Applications for ill-health retirement must be made during the member of staff’s employment.

13.5     There is no automatic right to ill-health retirement when a member of staff is dismissed on grounds of capability due to ill-health. 

13.6     A decision to terminate a member of staff’s employment will not necessarily lead to payment of ill-health retirement benefits from the pension scheme of which they are a member. The two are separate and are subject to different criteria (see para13.2 above). 

13.7    The ill-health provisions and the procedures for ill-health retirement differ between pension schemes.

13.8     The Pensions Officer will provide detailed information about the relevant pension scheme on request.

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Arrangements in respect of the Principal

 

14.1     The principles of the Long-term Ill-health Policy and Procedure will apply to the Principal.

14.2     If the Chair of Court deems that consideration requires to be given to dismissing the Principal on grounds of ill-health he/she will appoint two external lay Court members to join him/her on a panel to hear the case.

14.3     Where the decision of the panel is to dismiss the Principal, the Chair of Court will have the authority to do so.

14.4     The Principal will have the right of appeal against dismissal.  A panel of three external lay Court members not previously involved in the case will hear the appeal, the outcome of which will be final.

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Version Control:   Ill-health Policy v13 - 15 July 2013
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