Sickness Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) For Staff

Question Categories:

Notifications Process


During Sickness Absence Period

Sickness/Annual Leave Arrangements

Returning to Work



Ill Health Retirement





Notification Process

What should I do if I am too unwell to attend work?

On the first day of your absence you should, wherever possible, contact your manager personally in line with the notification requirements defined within the Sickness Absence Management procedure, which states that you should make every effort to notify your manager as early as possible, and no later than the normal start time or in line with local arrangements, if you are unable to attend work.

Should your absence continue beyond one day, you should continue to liaise with your manager at regular intervals as agreed.

In cases of ill health lasting more than seven days, you are required to obtain a Medical Certificate, (commonly known as a ‘fit note’) from your General Practitioner (G.P.), and to send this to your manager.

If I am too unwell to contact my manager personally, what should I do?

You are required to notify your manager of any sickness absence personally. However, in exceptional cases where you are too unwell to do this yourself, it is important to ensure that a family member notifies your manager accordingly.

What should I do if I believe that my sickness absence is due to or aggravated by a work or disability related issue?

Where you perceive that your absence is due to or aggravated by either a work or disability related issue you are encouraged to raise this with your manager as soon as possible, e.g. when initially reporting your absence. If your notification process within your department does not involve your manager, you may wish to request that either the disability or work related flag is ‘ticked’ on the staff system. This will ensure that an automatic email is sent directly to your Manager requesting that they review the sickness records and take any appropriate support/intervention. This is important as the University has a duty of care in relation to ensuring your health and safety, as do you.

What will happen if I request that a work or disability related flag is used?

Such information will enable managers in discussion with yourself to seek to explore and address the issue promptly, including seeking advice as appropriate from relevant professional services such as Human Resources, Health & Safety, Occupational Health Services etc. The type of intervention a manager may consider, in discussion with yourself, will be dependent upon the unique circumstances of the case. Potential examples (not an exhaustive list) of this include:

  • Risk assessments
  • Consideration of mediation
  • Reasonable adjustments
  • Referral to Workplace Health & Wellbeing (in all such cases staff must provide prior consent before an appointment can be made)
  • Counselling
  • Discussing with yourself about a potential approach to Access to Work for support
  • DSE training
  • Manual Handling training
  • Eye test contributions
  • Identification of additional support such as Staff Helpline, Harassment Network etc.

What should I do if I believe that my absence is fully or in part due to interpersonal relationship difficulties at work?

If you believe that your absence is due to interpersonal relationship difficulties at work you can also seek advice from a variety of sources including: your HR Team Contact; your Manager etc. All of whom will be able to advise you of a number of options available in seeking to address these concerns or signpost you to other support, including mediation.

If I am absent due to ill health, should I expect to be referred to Workplace Health & Wellbeing?

Any member of staff who is absent for a period of four weeks or more might expect to be referred to Occupational Health Services. However, this will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. Consequently, not all staff will be referred at this point.

A referral may also be arranged by your manager at any time during your employment, and especially where a potential cause for concern has been identified or a referral is felt to be beneficial.


When is a ‘fit note’ required?

A 'fit note' is required when your ill health absence has lasted more than 7 calendar days (same as the previous sick note).

Who would provide me with a ‘fit note’?

Your General Practitioner (GP) will be able to provide you with a 'fit note'.

Should I provide my manager with the original 'fit note' or a photocopy?

You should send a copy, retaining the original for your own records, as you may need this for benefits or other purposes.

I have been signed as ‘may be fit’, what should I do?

Your doctor will advise you that you ‘may be fit for work’ if they consider that you may be able to return to work with some help from your employer. Forward the note to your department and discuss its advice with your manager. Through these discussions your manager will identify if a return to work can be supported and if so, on what basis. If it is not possible to support a return to work at that time your fit note will be treated as ‘not fit for work’.

Does any agreed adjustment/support have to be in place for the full duration of the 'fit note'?

Not necessarily, regular reviews should be undertaken to ensure that the action(s) put in place do/continue to support your return to work. Where it is identified that these are no longer required and you are able to return fully to your normal duties, the actions/support will no longer need to be provided.

During Sickness Absence Period

How will I receive my payslip when I am absent due to ill health?

If you have access to a computer you will continue to receive a monthly payslip via myJob. Where it is anticipated that you will be absent from work due to ill health for some time, consideration will be given to issuing paper payslips until you return to work.

Please speak to your manager if you would like to request paper payslips during a prolonged period of ill health.

Can I undertake any form of alternative work, in addition to my  University post, when signed ‘unfit’ for work?

During a period of sickness absence the normal expectation is that you should not undertake any form of paid or unpaid alternative work. However, it is recognised that in some instances, depending upon the circumstances of a case, undertaking some form of activity/work may be beneficial in supporting your rehabilitation/recover e.g. voluntary work.

Such activity should only be undertaken with the agreement of your Head of Department, who will, where appropriate, seek advice from Human Resources and/or Occupational Health, to ensure that such activity does not impede your recovery.

I have been signed ‘unfit’ for my part time University post, but ‘fit’ for my other part time post with a different employer, what should I do?

It is recognised that some part time staff may have more than one post and that the nature of both roles may vary in such a way that this situation may occur. In such cases your manager may request that you agree to a management referral to Occupational Health to regularly monitor/review your situation. This would be in order to both ensure that all reasonable support to facilitate your return to your University post is considered, and that any alternative work outside the University does not adversely impact on your recovery/rehabilitation.

Sickness/Annual Leave Arrangements

Can I request to take annual leave whilst off sick?

Yes, however, it will remain at the Head of Department’s discretion as to whether such a request can be accommodated.

What if I am absent due to ill health during a bank holiday or closure day, how is this recorded?

Such absences are treated the same as a weekend, in that they are not counted as sickness absence in relation to any automatic management information reports provided by uBASE to managers. These reports are used to advise managers of cases where absence levels may need to be explored with a member of staff. However, as relevant sick pay provision is paid for such days, they are deducted from your overall sick pay entitlement (as defined by their terms & conditions).

If I am sick during a bank holiday that I was contracted to work but had booked as annual leave, would I be able to reclaim it?

You would be able to seek to reclaim your day’s annual leave, subject to you following the normal notification/reclaim requirements.

Can I carry over annual leave, which I have been unable to take due to ill health absence, from one annual leave year to the next?

Where prevented from taking the minimum statutory annual leave entitlement (inclusive of bank holidays/closure days), due to sickness absence, in any leave year, you will be able to request the carryover of any unused entitlement. Such a request should be made prior to the end of the leave year in which it was accrued and is limited to the minimum statutory carryover provisions defined by the Working Time Regulations 1998, as amended. Any annual leave carried over must be taken by 31 December of the new leave year or it will be deemed lost.

I have been unable to use all of the additional leave I purchased for this leave year due to long term sickness absence. What should I do?

As the additional leave part of your leave entitlement is taken first, when booking annual leave, such cases will be relatively rare. As the circumstances associated with such cases are likely to be unique, you should raise the issue with your HR Team Contact, who will identify your potential option(s), one of which could be to carry over this leave into the following leave year, subject to the individuals Head of Department’s agreement. In all cases staff members will be able to benefit from all leave purchased.

Returning to Work

When can I return to work?

You should return to work as soon as you feel well enough to do so and with the agreement of your manager. This might be before the fit note runs out, as you have recovered faster than the doctor expected, or they did not know of the ways in which your department could support your return.

Do I need to see my GP again before I go back to work?

Your GP will say on the form if they need to see you again. So, unless requested, you do not need to see your doctor again before you return to work.

What do I need to do when I return to work following a period of ill health?

You should:
  • ensure that those responsible for recording your sickness absence are aware of when you return to work, so the staff system can be updated if necessary.
  • for absences lasting more than 7 days, if you have not previously sent a Medical Certificate (more commonly referred to as a ‘Fit Note’) from your General Practitioner (GP) to your manager you should do so upon your return to work.
  • participate in a return to work discussion/interview, as appropriate.

What is covered within a return to work interview/discussion?

Managers are required to acknowledge and discuss each period of sickness absence with an individual following their return to work. In many cases this is likely to need only a ‘light touch’ discussion, and a brief note to record that this has been undertaken.
However, where the absence is becoming a cause for concern e.g. if an absence ‘pattern’ is evident or there is a potential underlying health issue or where there is persistent short term absence or work related issues, in some cases it may be necessary to have a structured return to work (RTW) interview.

This will be dependent upon the situation, however, some of the areas that may be covered include:

  • any issues which may be affecting your ability to attend work;
  • a review of your attendance record over the last twelve months;
  • the identification of any support mechanisms that may be beneficial to you following a return to work;
  • the potential involvement of Workplace Health & Wellbeing;
  • an assessment of whether any further action may be necessary, and what this might be.

Why am I being requested to attend a RTW interview?

Managers can request that a member of staff attend a RTW interview, at any point should they consider it appropriate, in order to explore any potential concerns in relation to your health/attendance. Such interviews are often prompted by the automatic provision of management information via the uBASE system, when absences reach 10 working days (pro-rated for part time staff) or 4 periods of absence. The purpose of such an interview is to enable your Manager through discussion with yourself, to promptly explore if there is any support/intervention that can be implemented to support your ability to attend work. This is important as research suggests that early intervention can be very effective. This can also potentially be supported by the wide variety of provisions/initiatives offered via Juice, Occupational Health, Health & Safety, Staff Helpline, Counselling, Human Resources etc.


Should I advise my manager that my sickness absence is related to pregnancy?

This is usually a personal decision. However, the University is fully committed to equality of opportunity, and can offer a variety of support and confidential advice from a number of sources e.g. HR Team Contact, and Staff Helpline.


Should I advise my manager that my sickness absence is related to a disability?

Without an awareness of your situation the University is unlikely to be able to offer you the support that you may need, for example: Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans’ (PEEPs) for those with some types of disability; reasonable adjustments etc.

As such, we would encourage all staff, particularly in relation to a disability to disclose their situation. This can be done at any point in the employment relationship, and will be treated sympathetically and in confidence. If you would rather discuss your circumstances with someone other than your manager you can always speak to your HR Team Contact.

If your disability has any implications for the health and safety of yourself or your colleagues, you are obliged to inform the University as your employer.

For further details may be found at Disclosing a Disability.

How will the University manage my sickness absence if I am, or become disabled?

The University is committed to the development of a diverse workforce and to supporting staff that are, or become, disabled. In order to retain the skills, experience and expertise of such staff the University endeavours to provide the necessary support and assistance to enable them to continue in their post. Consequently, the University is committed to fully considering and exploring the possibilities of making reasonable adjustments to enable staff to continue in their employment with the University.

However, in some cases it may not be possible to make reasonable adjustments to a member of staff´s current job role, and the University will, wherever possible, make every reasonable effort to redeploy those staff that are unable to carry out their original duties/job role. Staff will therefore be able to access the University´s redeployment procedure.

In cases where it is not possible to redeploy a member of staff on a permanent basis because of their disability, their situation will be reviewed in line with the sickness absence management policy.

Ill Health Retirement

I wish to apply for ill health retirement, what is the process?

Depending upon which pension scheme you are in, the process will vary, and as such you should contact your HR Team Contact, in confidence to discuss. Each process will, however, require you to undergo a medical assessment via our Staff Occupational Health Physician and the approval of the relevant pension trustees.  Please see the Juice Ill Health Retirement web page for guidance.