Sickness leave

The University aims to have a clear process to manage sickness and support our employees back to work.

Process for recording sickness

Notification of being away from work due to illness and the subsequent actions are covered in the University sickness absence flow chart (.pdf). This chart details what actions should be taken, by whom, when and how. University sickness is recorded by the line manager or delegated individual via People Manger, our secure management portal. Employees use the HR Organiser to close their sickness and complete the detail relating to the period of sickness.

Sick pay arrangements

University of Essex staff are entitled to paid sick leave based on length of service. The entitlement to occupational sick pay is as follows:

Length of service   Entitlement to paid sick pay 
 Up to 3 months service  1 month full pay
 Between 3 months and 1 year of service  2 months full pay, 2 months half pay
 During the 2nd year of service  3 months full pay, 3 months half pay
 During the 3rd year of service  4 months full pay, 4 months half pay
 During the 4th and 5th year of service  5 months full pay, 5 months half pay
 After 5 years’ service  6 months full pay, 6 months half pay

Part-time, term-time or fixed-term contracts

Employees engaged on a part-time basis or term-time only basis are entitled to the above entitlements on a pro-rata basis. Those on fixed-term contracts will be entitled to the same occupational sick pay arrangements as detailed above. The full detail of the entitlement and conditions can be found in sick leave and pay arrangements (.pdf).

Sickness Absence Management policy

It is recognised during a period of employment that employees may be absent from work because of ill-health or injury. The Sickness Absence Management policy (.pdf) (which includes the Self-Certification form) supports a structure to ensure that sickness absence is managed in a consistent, sympathetic manner in accordance with agreed standards and with the intention of supporting staff back into work at the earliest opportunity.

What is a fit note?

A fit note (.pdf) is a doctor’s certificate to advise whether the employee is:

  1. Not fit for work
  2. May be fit for work dependant on the advice specified on the fit note

The fit note may provide advice on phased return time periods or reasonable adjustments. Please contact us to discuss these recommendations if you would like further support or guidance on the feasibility of implementing the recommendations.

After the initial seven calendar days that are covered by self-certification, employees are required to support their on-going absence by providing a fit note.

Return to work conversations

The purpose of the return to work discussion is to confirm with the employee that they are well enough to return to work, agree workload priorities and ensure they are up to date on any changes that occurred in their absence. The discussion is usually straightforward and provides an opportunity to highlight / resolve issues and shows your colleagues that you care. 

Managing long-term sickness

A period of sickness will likely be considered long term if the period is likely to last more than four weeks. In cases of long-term sickness, it is essential that regular dialogue is maintained and an appropriate method and frequency of contact agreed.  A referral to Occupational Health should be made, in agreement with your employee relations adviser, when it is known that there is the prospect of long-term sickness, to determine whether any additional support can be provided to the manager or member of staff.

Work-related stress

Work-related stress is the reaction people have to demands which exceed their capacity and capability to cope. As part of a commitment to staff wellbeing, the University wants to identify and address the causes of work-related stress. If you have an individual who reports work related stress; whether they are currently at work or absent, please speak to your employee relations adviser.

Stress and stress-related absence has a significant impact on individuals, teams, departments and the University. Occupational Health provides guidance and support for managers and individuals as part of the University’s Stress Management Policy.

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