You should take a practical approach when judging if it would be unreasonable to meet an employee under the procedure, despite hitting an absence trigger e.g. where an employee’s absence is directly attributable to a specific illness or recovery from a recent operation and they have previously had a good attendance record.
Moving through the Supporting Attendance Procedure takes approximately 12 months in total, with approximately 4 months between each stage for Short Term Absence and approximately 3 months between each stage for Long Term Absence. Employees whose attendance is subject to review will be assessed at regular intervals and all areas of support, including any reasonable adjustments, should be considered and put into place to support a return to work.
In some circumstances it may be appropriate to accelerate some stages of the procedure, particularly where the level of absence cannot be sustained by the council and there is every indication that levels of attendance are unlikely to improve. Equally, there may be occasions where it is appropriate to extend the timescales for stages in the process for more information see Section 12. Manager’s Discretion within the Supporting Attendance at Work Procedure.
If the employee’s attendance continues to be a concern they should be advised that they will continue to be supported through the appropriate stages of the Supporting Attendance at Work Procedures, but should be made aware that the final stage of the procedures could result in medical redeployment or dismissal on the grounds of incapability due to ill-health.
The absence trigger levels should be used as the standard to establish if the employee is maintaining an acceptable level of attendance. When a trigger is met, a supporting attendance meeting should be held to consider what support may be required to help the employee improve their attendance.
Normally the supporting attendance monitoring period would not extend beyond 12 months, at which point the employee’ attendance would have improved to an acceptable level or potential redeployment or dismissal has been considered. However, there may be occasions where an employee’s absence has improved to an acceptable level for a short time, only to lapse again a few months later.
At this point the manager should use their discretion in deciding which stage of the procedures is most appropriate to initiate. It may be appropriate to move to the next stage of the procedure from the last stage reached, or for the employee to repeat the last stage and proceed from there. After one repeat stage, further periods of absence will normally result in moving onto the next stage. Advice and support is available from the HR team where required.