Sickness absence policy and procedure



The Company understands that employees may need to be absent from work from time to time due to sickness. This policy covers employees and their line managers in handling time off from work where the reason for absence is sickness. The Company aims to have as many employees as possible in attendance at all times during the working week and sickness absence needs to be managed so that an acceptable level of absence can be permitted and any problems resolved. 



If employees are unable to attend work due to sickness absence, they must notify their line manager by [insert time] by [insert method] on the first day of the absence. They will need to explain why they are unable to attend and indicate when they intend to return to work.

[Optional] If the period of sickness absence lasts for longer than [insert period], employees will be required to contact their line manager each [insert period] to notify them of their continued absence. 


Absences should be certified by a fit note from a GP, however if the employee is absent for seven calendar days or less in each instance, the employee may instead self-certify their absence. 

For absences of seven consecutive calendar days or less, upon their return to work, a self-certification form should be completed and passed to the employee’s line manager. 

For absences of eight days or more, a fit note is required. Fit notes are issued by the employee’s GP and should be passed to their line manager upon their return to work. The fit note should cover each day of absence and, if multiple fit notes are issued, they should be posted to the employee’s line manager with a brief explanation of their absence, the condition and, if known, their expected return to work date or next GP appointment. 

Failure to follow the certification process outlined above may be considered misconduct and may be dealt with under the Company’s disciplinary process. Company sick pay and SSP (statutory sick pay) may be withheld during this time.

Private medical certificates

A private fit note may be considered necessary by the Company is there is a history of unusual absences or if the line manager believes the employee may benefit from an intervention by a medical practitioner. The cost of obtaining a private fit note will be reimbursed by the Company. A private fit note may be requested by the Company regardless of the duration of the actual period of sickness absence. 

Return to work

A fit note may make a recommendation for temporary changes to be made to an employee’s working environment or conditions to facilitate a return to work. 

Where the fit note contains recommendations for changes to be made to working conditions or practices, the Company will consider those recommendations and try as far as possible to accommodation those changes, where permissible in accordance with the needs of the business.

For extended periods of absence, the Company may require the employee to meet with a medical practitioner, of the Company’s choosing, to have the fitness to work arrangements of the employee assessed and confirmed.

In all circumstances, a return to work interview will be arranged by the line manager for the employee. 

The return to work interview will confirm the employee’s fitness to return to work, update the employee on any changes that may have taken place in the workplace during their absence, and confirm whether any necessary support is required and make arrangements for this as appropriate. 

Fit notes

Where a fit note is marked as “may be fit for work” by the employee’s General Practitioner, the GP usually sets out the possible alternations or amendments that could be made to the employee’s working practices to facilitate their fitness for work. Examples of the options available are:  

  • phased return to work
  • amended duties
  • altered hours
  • workplace adaptations.

A meeting will be arranged via the HR department for the employee to meet with HR and their line manager to discuss the arrangements recommended in their fit note and how best the Company can facilitate a return to work. 

In the event that adjustments and amendments cannot be made, the employee will not be able to return to work and will need to remain on sickness absence. However, where adjustments and amendments can be facilitated, regular reviews will be undertaken with the employee to confirm that the changes made continue to be adequate. The changes should be temporary and should not be considered permanent changes to the terms and conditions. 

Medical examination

If the Company believes that a medical opinion is necessary, the Company reserves the right to require an employee to be referred to a medical practitioner for an assessment to be undertaken. 

Access to medical reports

The Company may need to request a copy of an employee’s medical reports or medical records to assist in the assessment of the employee's medical condition. The employee’s consent, in line with requirements under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988, will be obtained prior to the Company making contact with their GP and the employee is entitled to see a copy of the documentation provided. In line with data protection legislation, employees will also be given details on the reason for the examination, what the Company intends to do with the data obtained and the lawful basis for processing the data.

Frequent and short term absences 

Trigger points 

Absence triggers enable the Company and line managers to address all absences and ensure absences are managed fairly and consistently. 

The absence triggers are as follows: 

Triggers for employees within their probationary period. 



Number of absence events

[insert number]

Continuous calendar days of absence

[insert number]

Triggers for employees who have completed their probationary period. 



Number of absence events

[insert number] in a rolling [insert period] period

Absence events totalling more than 10 working days (pro-rated) 

[insert number] in a rolling [insert period] period

Continuous calendar days of absence

[insert number]

Only one of the triggers needs to be reached for the line manager to be required to review the employee’s sickness records. 

The line manager should meet informally with the employee to discuss the fact that an absence trigger has been reached and to discuss necessary actions, such as considering a referral to Occupational Health, implementing any possible reasonable adjustments that may be necessary in relation to disability, or any possible formal disciplinary action. The line manager may establish that there is an underlying medical condition and it may be that advice is required from HR as to the best course of action to take. Disciplinary procedures may not be necessary or appropriate in those circumstances. 

A summary of the meeting should be kept for the employee’s personnel file and a copy given to the employee.

Long term sickness 

Employees should be aware that although the Company is sympathetic towards genuine illnesses, it is not realistic for sickness-related absence to continue forever. The Company will be eager to get any employees on long-term sickness absence back into the workplace as appropriately and effectively as possible, but the employment may need to be reviewed if this cannot be achieved. There will be a full consultation with the employee, together with a medical investigation and consideration of redeployment or alternative employment. 

If there is regular or persistent absence due to long term sickness, injuries etc, the situation is unlikely to be able to continue forever. Ultimately, employment may be terminated after full compliance with the Company’s termination procedures in these circumstances. See the section below in relation to dismissal for more information on this aspect. 

The Company will usually require employees who have been absent for one month or more, or are expected to be absent for one month or more, to return some or all of their Company equipment. This may be requested so that the equipment can be redeployed to other employees. 

Should a return to work be possible, the Company may require the employee’s current fitness to be determined and confirmed by a medical practitioner, of the Company’s choosing. 

Updates during sickness 

Employees are expected to keep their line manager updated with details of their health and expected date of returning to work. 

Line managers will arrange periodic meetings with the employee to discuss the current situation so that each side is kept up to date with developments. 

The location of these meetings will usually be at the employee’s usual place of work but, if a home visit is necessary due to serious ill health or being physically unable to attend work, this can be accommodated. 


The Company has a duty to make reasonable adjustments where an employee has a disability covered by the Equality Act 2010. 

The duty to make reasonable adjustments covers elements, such as making changes and adjustments to working hours, adjusting existing equipment, provision of different equipment and amending workplace practices, if the employee is placed at a substantial disadvantage. It may also involve physical changes, such as to the building entrance points, or alterations to the floor plan, furniture etc. 

The employee will be consulted fully on these. 

The duty to make the adjustments is ‘reasonable’ so if the suggested adjustment is not viable it will not be made. It may also be the case that no reasonable adjustments are possible to facilitate a return. There may be no alternative roles or employment available and if there is no prospect of the employee being able to return to work in the near future, it may be inevitable that a decision to dismiss is the last and only option. 

Dismissal and the right to appeal

If long term sickness absence leads to dismissal, the employee will be provided with the reasons for the dismissal in writing. 

The reasons for dismissal should set out the circumstances that led to the decision to dismiss. Employees have the right to appeal the decision and they should do so within five working days, to [insert job title] setting out the reasons for their appeal. 

The appeal itself will be dealt with in accordance with the rules on appeals set out in the Company’s disciplinary process. 

Payment arrangements and insurance

Statutory sick pay (SSP)

Employees qualify for SSP on Mondays to Fridays for full time employees and their normal working days for part time employees. 

SSP payments are made subject to tax and national insurance deductions. 

Company sick pay scheme 

The Company sick pay scheme provides up to [insert period] of [insert details eg full basic salary], including SSP. Once that allowance is exhausted, a further up to [insert period] of [insert details eg 75% of full basic salary] is available. A rolling [insert time period] is utilised in determining the number of weeks available for Company sick pay purposes. Payments such as commission, bonuses and other variable payments will not be made. 

Company sick pay payments are entirely at the discretion of a Company Director. Employees in a probationary period are not entitled to Company sick pay payments. 

The sick pay scheme terms and conditions can be varied or revoked upon the giving by the Company of [insert period] written notice, to be provided on any significant change to the entitlements and amounts due under the sick pay scheme. 

Unpaid sickness

Employees who are not eligible for SSP or for payments under the Company sick pay scheme will take that period of sickness as unpaid. No variable payments such as commission or bonuses may be paid and no basic pay shall be made. 

Employee’s annual leave entitlement will only accrue at their statutory entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998, ie pro rata up to a total of 28 days per annum. This includes public holidays. 

Absences for reasons other than sickness

Long term absences for reasons other than sickness, such as career breaks or time off for long distance travel, will be considered by line managers at the request of an employee. The request will be considered in line with business needs and operational requirements prior to being authorised. 

Unauthorised absences will be dealt with via the Company disciplinary procedure.

[Optional] Group income protection plan

Employees who successfully complete their probationary periods become eligible to be enrolled in the group income protection plan. 

The scheme provides that, after six months of sickness or injury, the policyholder may receive 50% of their insured earnings. The insurance company will determine whether to accept the claim and currently the amount is paid for [insert number -2/3/5] years or until the insurance company’s medical practitioner determines that the employee is fit to return to work, whichever occurs first. Please see the group income protection plan policy for more details on this scheme. 

Inclusion in the scheme is at the direction of a Company director. The scheme may be withdrawn on 30 days’ notice by the Company. The terms and conditions of the policy may be varied or revoked on 30 days’ notice by the Company. 

[Optional] Private healthcare scheme

Employees who successfully complete their probationary periods become eligible to be enrolled in the Company’s private healthcare scheme. 

The scheme may also be extended to cover an employee’s partner or even their family. The cost of this will be at the employee’s expense. 

Inclusion in the scheme is at the direction of a Company director. The scheme may be withdrawn on 30 days’ notice by the Company. The terms and conditions of the policy may be varied or revoked on 30 days’ notice by the Company. 

Protecting your data

All personal data obtained during sickness absence procedures will be handled with the utmost integrity and confidentiality and in line with our data protection policy. Employees may be reminded of the types of data the Company holds, including data on health, and our practices in relation to that data by reviewing the Company’s privacy notice which is available [insert details].

Policy last updated:         [insert date]

Scheduled for review on:         [insert date]

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