Questions and answers

What should I do if I am unwell and unable to work?

First notify your immediate manager by telephone as early as possible on the first day of your absence. You should provide your manager with the following information:

  • The nature of your illness or injury;
  • The expected approximate length of absence from work;
  • Your contact details;
  • Whether the absence may be due to an injury at work or is otherwise perceived to be related to work; and
  • Details about any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention in your absence.

If the absence is up to and including seven calendar days, you will need to complete a self-certification form (form CHRIS/62) on your return to work. If it is more than seven days, you will need to obtain a Statement of Fitness for Work (or 'Fit Note') from your doctor and send it to your manager.

If you cannot reach your manager you should try to contact another manager in your department. If you fail to notify your manager and do not have a valid reason for not doing so, it may be treated as unauthorised absence and may be dealt with under the relevant disciplinary procedure.

Am I allowed time off work to attend a medical appointment?

Wherever possible, your manager will agree to a reasonable request to attend a medical appointment e.g. a dental appointment and you will not normally have to make up the time taken. However, you should make every effort to schedule appointments outside of your working hours where possible. If this is not possible, you should try to schedule the appointments for the beginning or end of the working day.

If you have a health condition that requires ongoing treatment, you should discuss this with your manager as early as possible. Wherever possible, time off to attend the appointments will be accommodated. However, you may need to provide appointment cards or equivalent.

How will my absence from work affect my pay?

That depends on how long you are absent and the number of years you have been employed by the University. Entitlement to sick pay is calculated on the first half-day of each absence, taking into account any earlier absences in the 365 days immediately prior to that date. The Sickness Absence Policy provides detailed information about contractual rates of pay during absence due to sickness.

Your Department will be in touch with you if it necessary to reduce your pay during your absence.

Am I entitled to accrue paid holiday whilst on sick leave?

Yes. For the first 13 weeks of any absence your contractual holiday entitlement accrues as normal. Thereafter, no more contractual annual leave accrues until you return to work. For any remaining period of absence you will continue to accrue statutory leave only. In any leave year you have a statutory right to 28 working days holiday with pay. This includes Public Holidays and other periods of University closure.

What if I fall ill while I am on holiday?

For a medically certificated sickness, which prevents you from carrying out your holiday plans, you would normally be able to arrange to take the annual leave at another time. However, if the sickness absence occurs when the department would be closed (e.g. at Christmas or public holiday) the leave will be deducted from your annual leave entitlement.

If you do fall ill whilst on annual leave the usual requirements for self-certification and medical certificates will still apply so you should report the sickness to your manager as soon as possible, even if abroad.

Can I take annual leave whilst I am signed off sick?

Yes. If your manager agrees, you can take annual leave during a period of sickness absence. For example, employees on long-term sick leave may request to take annual leave as a way to avoid or delay the impact of moving onto half-pay or nil-pay. However, there is no requirement for you to use your annual leave whilst you are signed off sick.

Can I go on holiday while I am on sick leave?

Yes, provided that where you plan to go on holiday and what you will be doing on holiday is not inconsistent with the reasons you have stated for your absence. However, your sick pay may be withheld if we discover that you are undertaking activities that should not be possible given the stated reasons for your sickness absence. For example, if you went on a rock climbing holiday while off work with back pain. You are expected to make yourself available for scheduled meetings to discuss your sickness absence so if you do plan to go on holiday whilst off sick then you should inform your manager.

Should I keep in touch with my manager during my sickness absence?

Yes, do keep in touch with your manager on a regular basis so that s/he knows when to expect you back and so that you can discuss any measures that could facilitate your return to work e.g. amended duties or workplace adaptations. You should therefore make sure s/he has an up-to-date contact address and telephone number for you. Contact will usually be by telephone, though for longer periods of absence it may be helpful to arrange a meeting with your manager at a mutually agreed location.

What do I need to do when I am ready to return to work?

Let your department know when to expect you back. Where your absence has been medically certified your doctor will either state the period of time that you will be absent from work, or indicate that you may be fit for work and suggest measures that could assist your return. Suggested measures may include a phased return, a temporary reduction in hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations.

Your department will discuss your return to work with you either on or prior to your return, including any measures suggested by your doctor. If your doctor has suggested measures then your manager will likely refer you to the University's Occupational Health Service for specialist advice in relation to the impact of your health condition on your ability to do your job. This may take place before your return to work.

Why am I being referred to the Occupational Health Service?

If you have been absent from work for a long time or are regularly absent from work due to ill-health then your manager may consider referring you to the Occupational Health Service, often referred to as OH. The Occupational Health Service can provide specific advice regarding your fitness for work and the impact of any health problem you might have on your ability to do your job, as well as any support or measures that may help you return to work or improve your levels of attendance.

If your manager is considering referring you to the Occupational Health Service, s/he will discuss this with you before making a referral.

What happens if my absence is due to an injury sustained at work?

First of all make sure that an accident report form has been completed and sent to the Safety Office. Your department may do this on your behalf. You should also be referred to the University's Occupational Health Service at an early stage to assess the impact of your injury on your ability to carry out your duties.

If I become ill during pregnancy will that affect my maternity leave?

If you are absent from work due to illness unrelated to your pregnancy you can remain on sick leave until you start maternity leave on the date previously requested.

However, if you are on sick leave due to pregnancy-related illness at the beginning of the 4th week before the expected week of childbirth you will commence maternity leave at that date and will transfer from sick pay to maternity pay. If you become sick with a pregnancy-related illness after the beginning of the 4th week before the expected week of childbirth your maternity leave will commence on the first day of illness. For further information, please read the University's Maternity Policy or contact HR for advice.