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Attendance Management

Managing Attendance in Schools

Policy Statement

Castlewellan Primary School is committed to promoting high quality education by employing and supporting staff who will work with a high degree of commitment and professionalism in a healthy environment.

Castlewellan Primary School staff and Board of Governors are committed to providing a caring and supportive school environment which recognises that members of staff are individuals whose personal well-being is of value to the education of the children and the smooth running of the school. Staff health and welfare is an essential part of this and augments other aspects of school management.

The purpose of this policy and accompanying procedures is to establish a clear framework for managing absence within school.

The policy covers absence which is reported as sickness absence. It does not apply to authorised absences e.g. holidays, training courses, jury service, nor to ante natal care or absence on maternity leave.

Castlewellan Primary School recognises its responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Health and Safety at Work Order and is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and a healthy working environment for all its employees.

Aims of the Policy

  • To ensure that all staff are treated fairly, consistently and with sensitivity during times of illness.
  • To inform staff and Boards of Governors of the policy and procedures for managing attendance in schools, to maintain confidentiality of information and to facilitate a consistent approach to staff attendance across all schools.
  • To promote and encourage an attendance culture which recognises that good attendance enhances the learning experience of children.
  • To address the negative effect on staff morale where frequent or prolonged absences of colleagues creates additional workload, pressure and stress.
  • To raise awareness of the Staff Care Service (where applicable) and its supportive role.

Staff Care Services

The Staff Care Service provides, on a confidential basis, support to staff when problems become persistent, unmanageable or affect health and well-being.  It provides support for those suffering stress, anxiety or having difficulty coping with experiences such as bereavement, relationships, family or financial difficulties, addiction and work related problems.

The decision to request or accept assistance from the Staff Care Service is the personal choice of the individual, whose identity will remain confidential to the Service and will not be disclosed to the School or the Board.

THE ROLE OF:

  • The Principal

Within the context of the school’s pastoral care policy:

  • To ensure that all new staff are informed of sickness absence procedures and policy as part of the induction process;
  • To monitor the absence of staff in a fair, consistent and confidential manner and to ensure that appropriate documentation is submitted to the Human Resource Unit on a timely basis;
  • To maintain appropriate contact with staff, particularly those on long term absence;
  • To liaise with staff regarding arrangements for referral to the Occupational Health Physician or other agency;
  • To carry out return to work interviews and keep appropriate records;
  • To ensure staff are aware of the Staff Care Service (where appropriate);
  • To support, as far as practicable, any rehabilitation programme which may be recommended by the Occupational Health Physician.

(i) Monitoring Attendance

It is the responsibility of the principal to monitor the attendance of staff.

Monitoring ensures that issues of public accountability for expenditure on salaries and sick pay are satisfied; it enables principals to make decisions about temporary arrangements such as deputising; it also ensures that principals are fully aware of the absenteeism rates of staff and can address any problems promptly.

Human Resources will provide principals with regular reports, detailing the number of self/medically certified absences.

Action by the principal should normally be initiated by any of the following:

  • More than 8 casual days absence in a 12 month rolling period.
  • More than 3 periods of absence in a 12 month rolling period, each in excess of 3 days duration.
  • Continuous absence of 4 weeks or more.
  • An individual member of staff with an absence rate of 5% or more.

Circumstances will vary from case to case and principals may have additional information which would make action under this procedure inappropriate.

In such cases advice should be sought from Human Resources.

  • The Employee
  • To report all sickness absence in accordance with procedures and provide appropriate documentation promptly;
  • To maintain appropriate regular contact with the principal during any period of absence;
  • To follow any professional advice, including medical, aimed at ensuring a timely return to work;
  • To advise the principal of matters relevant to the absence particularly where there may be other problems either at home or at work contributing to the absence.

(i) Reporting Absence

On those occasions where illness prevents a member of staff from attending work, he/she must personally, or make arrangements to:

  • Notify the principal by telephone, if possible, one hour before school starts and no later than 9.30 am (or within one hour of start time). If the principal is unavailable, the designated member of staff should be informed. In exceptional circumstances, if a member of staff is incapable of notifying the principal, a relative or friend may do so. In the case of a principal, he/she should notify the designated member of staff who in turn should inform the chairman of the Board of Governors;
  • At the time of the initial notification give an explanation of the absence and, if possible, an estimate of its likely duration;
  • Ensure that the principal is kept informed of the illness regularly in order that alternative arrangements can be put in place;
  • Provide documentation promptly to the school in support of any absence from work due to sickness as follows:
    • Up to 7 Calendar days – self certification form must be submitted after the 3rd day of absence.
    • More than 7 days – Doctor’s statement must be submitted before expiry of the 2nd week of absence.
  • Notify the principal in advance of the date of return to work. If the absence has been of 4 weeks or more duration the principal, or in the case of a principal, the Chairman of the Board of Governors, should be given, where possible, one week’s notice of intention to return to work.

It should be noted that failure to comply with the above may result in the absence being regarded as unauthorised, in pay being withheld and/or disciplinary action being taken.

Where the original doctor’s statement covers a period exceeding 14 days, or where more than one statement is required, the member of staff must, before returning to work, obtain a final statement certifying fitness to resume duties.

NOTE

The Teachers’ salaries Regulations (N.I.) 1993, Regulation 19(8) (b) states:

“A teacher who has been absent because illness for a total pf 20 working days in any year ending 31 March and who has not submitted a doctor’s statement in respect of any of those days shall not be entitled to salary for any subsequent days of absence through illness in that year unless he/she furnishes a doctor’s statement…”

(ii) Conduct During Absence

In all cases of sickness or injury which necessitate taking time off work, it is expected that staff will do their utmost to facilitate a speedy return to fitness and to work. The following are examples of activities which would be considered inconsistent with genuine sickness or injury and may result in disciplinary action being taken.

  • Participating in any sport, hobby, social or other activity which is inconsistent with the illness or injury or which could aggravate the illness or injury or which could delay recovery;
  • Undertaking any other employment, whether paid or unpaid;
  •  Altering or causing to have altered any details on a medical statement, eg dates or signature;
  • Failing to respond to requests to attend absence meetings or medical examination without good reason;
  • Taking holidays during sickness absence will be a cause of concern unless there is acceptable evidence to support the contention that the holiday is deemed to be required as part of treatment or necessary recuperation. Staff contemplating taking holidays should discuss this with the principal in advance.

The above list is illustrative only. The type of behaviour expected of staff will depend upon the individual nature of the case and the nature and severity of the illness.

Management of Different Types of Absence

Short Term Absence

This is defined as frequent, minor and usually unconnected illnesses which cause regular absence from work.

Persistent Intermittent Absence

This is defined as regular short and/or long term absences which may or may not result from an underlying medical condition. In this type of absence the medical prognosis may be such that the member of staff could not be deemed to be permanently unfit for work but the absences may be of such a significant level that the member of staff can be deemed to be incapable of giving regular attendance at work.

Dependent upon the particular circumstances of the case a referral to the Occupational Health Physician may be considered appropriate. Where a referral is considered appropriate, the principal will, where possible, contact the member of staff and advise them of the referral.

Long Term Absence

This is defined as illness or injury which is likely to result in an absence from work of at least 4 weeks or longer or which could result in staff being unable to return to work.

When a member of staff has been absent for 4 weeks continuously and there is no indication of an imminent return to duty, the principal will assess the situation in consultation with Human Resources.

Contact During Absence

There is a responsibility on the management of the school and the teacher to maintain contact with each other whilst the teacher is on sickness absence. The maintenance of such contact should enable effective communication between the parties and facilities the teacher’s return to work.

Return to Work Interviews

In order to effectively assess and manage attendance, a return to work interview between Principal and staff member will be conducted.

Staff who wish to be interviewed by a person of the same gender should be accommodated where possible.

In particularly sensitive or difficult cases an officer from Human Resources may be in attendance by way of assistance to local management.

Medical Examinations

A member of staff shall, if required, submit to a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner or a medical consultant appointed by the Board or recommended by the Board’s Occupational Health Physician. This medical examination will be at no cost to the member of staff unless he/she fails to attend without reasonable notice and/or good reason.

Information may also be sought from the member of staff’s general practitioner or specialist with the permission of the member of staff. The seeking of such information is governed by the provisions of The Access to Personal Files and Medical Reports (Nl) Order 1991.

The process of medical examination will be governed by separate procedures.

Staff may be referred for assessment or examination to the Board’s Occupational Health Physician in any of the following circumstances:

  • When absences in a rolling 12 month period give cause for concern and the Board wishes to establish whether or not there is an underlying medical condition which may be causing the absence;
  • When a member of staff has been on a prolonged continuous absence (in excess of 4 weeks) and there is no prospect of a return to work;
  • When a member of staff has been on prolonged sickness absence and wishes to return on a temporary or alternative working pattern for medical reasons;
  • When the duration of the absence seems excessive for the nature of the illness;
  • When, at any time, a member of staff’s behaviour gives cause for concern;
  • When a non-teaching probationer’s sickness absence record is such that it raises doubt with regard to the advisability of continuing his/her employment;
  • When a request is received from a member of staff for premature retirement on the grounds of ill-health;
  • When the Board is of the opinion that dismissal on the grounds of ill health may be considered in light of previous and current sickness absences;
  • When the rate of sickness absence in a particular work area is significantly higher than average and there is no obvious explanation.

 

 

 

 

Managing Attendance in Schools

Policy Statement

Castlewellan Primary School is committed to promoting high quality education by employing and supporting staff who will work with a high degree of commitment and professionalism in a healthy environment.

Castlewellan Primary School staff and Board of Governors are committed to providing a caring and supportive school environment which recognises that members of staff are individuals whose personal well-being is of value to the education of the children and the smooth running of the school. Staff health and welfare is an essential part of this and augments other aspects of school management.

The purpose of this policy and accompanying procedures is to establish a clear framework for managing absence within school.

The policy covers absence which is reported as sickness absence. It does not apply to authorised absences e.g. holidays, training courses, jury service, nor to ante natal care or absence on maternity leave.

Castlewellan Primary School recognises its responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Health and Safety at Work Order and is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and a healthy working environment for all its employees.

Aims of the Policy

1.         To ensure that all staff are treated fairly, consistently and with sensitivity during times of illness.

2.         To inform staff and Boards of Governors of the policy and procedures for managing attendance in schools, to maintain confidentiality of information and to facilitate a consistent approach to staff attendance across all schools.

3.         To promote and encourage an attendance culture which recognises that good attendance enhances the learning experience of children.

4.         To address the negative effect on staff morale where frequent or prolonged absences of colleagues creates additional workload, pressure and stress.

5.         To raise awareness of the Staff Care Service (where applicable) and its supportive role.

Staff Care Services

The Staff Care Service provides, on a confidential basis, support to staff when problems become persistent, unmanageable or affect health and well-being.  It provides support for those suffering stress, anxiety or having difficulty coping with experiences such as bereavement, relationships, family or financial difficulties, addiction and work related problems.

The decision to request or accept assistance from the Staff Care Service is the personal choice of the individual, whose identity will remain confidential to the Service and will not be disclosed to the School or the Board.

THE ROLE OF:

(a)        The Principal

Within the context of the school’s pastoral care policy:

           to ensure that all new staff are informed of sickness absence procedures and policy as part of the induction process;

           to monitor the absence of staff in a fair, consistent and confidential manner and to ensure that appropriate documentation is submitted to the Human Resource Unit on a timely basis;

           to maintain appropriate contact with staff, particularly those on long term absence;

           to liaise with staff regarding arrangements for referral to the Occupational Health Physician or other agency;

           to carry out return to work interviews and keep appropriate records;

           to ensure staff are aware of the Staff Care Service (where appropriate);

           to support, as far as practicable, any rehabilitation programme which may be recommended by the Occupational Health Physician.

(i) Monitoring Attendance

It is the responsibility of the principal to monitor the attendance of staff.

Monitoring ensures that issues of public accountability for expenditure on salaries and sick pay are satisfied; it enables principals to make decisions about temporary arrangements such as deputising; it also ensures that principals are fully aware of the absenteeism rates of staff and can address any problems promptly.

Human Resources will provide principals with regular reports, detailing the number of self/medically certified absences.

Action by the principal should normally be initiated by any of the following:

           More than 8 casual days absence in a 12 month rolling period.

           More than 3 periods of absence in a 12 month rolling period, each in excess of 3 days duration.

           Continuous absence of 4 weeks or more.

           An individual member of staff with an absence rate of 5% or more.

Circumstances will vary from case to case and principals may have additional information which would make action under this procedure inappropriate.

In such cases advice should be sought from Human Resources.

(b)        The Employee

           to report all sickness absence in accordance with procedures and provide appropriate documentation promptly;

           to maintain appropriate regular contact with the principal during any period of absence;

           to follow any professional advice, including medical, aimed at ensuring a timely return to work;

           to advise the principal of matters relevant to the absence particularly where there may be other problems either at home or at work contributing to the absence.

(i) Reporting Absence

On those occasions where illness prevents a member of staff from attending work, he/she must personally, or make arrangements to:

a)         notify the principal by telephone, if possible, one hour before school starts and no later than 9.30 am (or within one hour of start time). If the principal is unavailable, the designated member of staff should be informed. In exceptional circumstances, if a member of staff is incapable of notifying the principal, a relative or friend may do so. In the case of a principal, he/she should notify the designated member of staff who in turn should inform the chairman of the Board of Governors;

b)         at the time of the initial notification give an explanation of the absence and, if possible, an estimate of its likely duration;

c)         ensure that the principal is kept informed of the illness regularly in order that alternative arrangements can be put in place;

d)         provide documentation promptly to the school in support of any absence from work due to sickness as follows:

           Up to 7 Calendar days – self certification form must be submitted after the 3rd day of absence.

           More than 7 days – Doctor’s statement must be submitted before expiry of the 2nd week of absence.

e)         notify the principal in advance of the date of return to work. If the absence has been of 4 weeks or more duration the principal, or in the case of a principal, the Chairman of the Board of Governors, should be given, where possible, one week’s notice of intention to return to work.

It should be noted that failure to comply with the above may result in the absence being regarded as unauthorised, in pay being withheld and/or disciplinary action being taken.

Where the original doctor’s statement covers a period exceeding 14 days, or where more than one statement is required, the member of staff must, before returning to work, obtain a final statement certifying fitness to resume duties.

NOTE

The Teachers’ salaries Regulations (N.I.) 1993, Regulation 19(8) (b) states:

“A teacher who has been absent because illness for a total pf 20 working days in any year ending 31 March and who has not submitted a doctor’s statement in respect of any of those days shall not be entitled to salary for any subsequent days of absence through illness in that year unless he/she furnishes a doctor’s statement…”

(ii) Conduct During Absence

In all cases of sickness or injury which necessitate taking time off work, it is expected that staff will do their utmost to facilitate a speedy return to fitness and to work. The following are examples of activities which would be considered inconsistent with genuine sickness or injury and may result in disciplinary action being taken.

           participating in any sport, hobby, social or other activity which is inconsistent with the illness or injury or which could aggravate the illness or injury or which could delay recovery;

           undertaking any other employment, whether paid or unpaid;

           altering or causing to have altered any details on a medical statement, eg dates or signature;

           failing to respond to requests to attend absence meetings or medical examination without good reason;

           taking holidays during sickness absence will be a cause of concern unless there is acceptable evidence to support the contention that the holiday is deemed to be required as part of treatment or necessary recuperation. Staff contemplating taking holidays should discuss this with the principal in advance.

The above list is illustrative only. The type of behaviour expected of staff will depend upon the individual nature of the case and the nature and severity of the illness.

Management of Different Types of Absence

i.          Short Term Absence

This is defined as frequent, minor and usually unconnected illnesses which cause regular absence from work.

ii.         Persistent Intermittent Absence

This is defined as regular short and/or long term absences which may or may not result from an underlying medical condition. In this type of absence the medical prognosis may be such that the member of staff could not be deemed to be permanently unfit for work but the absences may be of such a significant level that the member of staff can be deemed to be incapable of giving regular attendance at work.

Dependent upon the particular circumstances of the case a referral to the Occupational Health Physician may be considered appropriate. Where a referral is considered appropriate, the principal will, where possible, contact the member of staff and advise them of the referral.

ii.         Long Term Absence

This is defined as illness or injury which is likely to result in an absence from work of at least 4 weeks or longer or which could result in staff being unable to return to work.

When a member of staff has been absent for 4 weeks continuously and there is no indication of an imminent return to duty, the principal will assess the situation in consultation with Human Resources.

iii.        Contact During Absence

There is a responsibility on the management of the school and the teacher to maintain contact with each other whilst the teacher is on sickness absence. The maintenance of such contact should enable effective communication between the parties and facilities the teacher’s return to work.

Return to Work Interviews

In order to effectively assess and manage attendance, a return to work interview between Principal and staff member will be conducted.

Staff who wish to be interviewed by a person of the same gender should be accommodated where possible.

In particularly sensitive or difficult cases an officer from Human Resources may be in attendance by way of assistance to local management.

Medical Examinations

A member of staff shall, if required, submit to a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner or a medical consultant appointed by the Board or recommended by the Board’s Occupational Health Physician. This medical examination will be at no cost to the member of staff unless he/she fails to attend without reasonable notice and/or good reason.

Information may also be sought from the member of staff’s general practitioner or specialist with the permission of the member of staff. The seeking of such information is governed by the provisions of The Access to Personal Files and Medical Reports (Nl) Order 1991.

The process of medical examination will be governed by separate procedures.

Staff may be referred for assessment or examination to the Board’s Occupational Health Physician in any of the following circumstances:

           when absences in a rolling 12 month period give cause for concern and the Board wishes to establish whether or not there is an underlying medical condition which may be causing the absence;

           when a member of staff has been on a prolonged continuous absence (in excess of 4 weeks) and there is no prospect of a return to work;

           when a member of staff has been on prolonged sickness absence and wishes to return on a temporary or alternative working pattern for medical reasons;

           when the duration of the absence seems excessive for the nature of the illness;

           when, at any time, a member of staff’s behaviour gives cause for concern;

           when a non-teaching probationer’s sickness absence record is such that it raises doubt with regard to the advisability of continuing his/her employment;

           when a request is received from a member of staff for premature retirement on the grounds of ill-health;

           when the Board is of the opinion that dismissal on the grounds of ill health may be considered in light of previous and current sickness absences;

           when the rate of sickness absence in a particular work area is significantly higher than average and there is no obvious explanation.