School employee attendance management Policy & Procedure 2015


In 2015 St Helens Council amended this Policy on behalf of your school.  UNISON objected to the changes as they were seen as a backward step for employee welfare management.

The Council progressed the Policy and today UNISON is still objecting to the controls.

It is important therefore, that you are made fully aware of the changes and what the union stance is.


Policy Aims and Objectives

2.0  ‘The aim of this policy is to promote the attendance of employees at work acknowledging that employment has a positive and, on occasion, therapeutic effect on employees’ general health and well being. At the heart of the policy are three principal objectives: –

  1. Early, regular contact with those absent from work;
  2. collaborative working between management, employees, employees’ representatives, Human Resources and Occupational Health to promote an early and sustained return to work; and
  3. a strong focus on rehabilitation and resettlement into the workplace’

UNISON recognises that work can also have a negative effect on employment.

Many members have reported stress due to a variety of events at work, including managers not managing work loads, bullying, working outside their contracted hours for no pay – particularly relevant in many schools.

The lack of adequate school funding is stressing our members into working longer hours than they are paid for.

This may not be acceptable to the School Heads and Governors, but it is allowed to continue and needs addressing by the HR advisers.

Welfare Meetings

3.6 ‘Welfare meetings are management meetings which exist to facilitate discussion about the individual’s absence and steps to be taken towards the earliest possible date for a return to work.

The meeting provides an opportunity for the employee to discuss their situation with the manager with a view to the absence being managed and achieve a successful return to work…

A Human Resources representative will usually also be in attendance at the welfare meeting.

The employee is permitted to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or workplace colleague, however there is no statutory right to representation at these meetings. If a welfare meeting is postponed due to the unavailability of the employee’s union representative or work colleague, and cannot be rearranged within 10 working days of the postponed date, it would be expected that employees will attend welfare meetings unaccompanied…’

UNISON is a recognised trade union within St Helens Council and the Schools.  As such we should be expected to attend all welfare meetings to ensure our members are not subject to any undue pressure to return back to work before they are fit to do so.

It is UNISONs stance that when a HR representative is present, so should a trade union representative to accompany our member.

UNISON look to the same 10 days notice of meetings in the policy that seeks to potentially disadvantage our members.

Our advice to members is simple – ensure you have your trade union present in all meetings which affect your employment.

3.14 ‘Persistent Absence over significant periods of employment

Management reserve the right to consider individuals’ aggregate absence records over periods of more than 12 months and consider overall levels of attendance and previous action under this

Such instances could for example include individuals who receive repeated warnings including a final warning over significant periods of time during their employment, which are punctuated by periods of some improvement and the expiry of warnings, only for further absences to occur. Or, individuals have significant periods of long term sickness with intermittent periods of improvement.

A comprehensive examination of such persistent attendance issues may result in the consideration of continuing employment at an Attendance Management Hearing on the basis of the individual’s inability to give regular and reliable service to the school…’

UNISON have strongly objected to the addition of the ‘unlimited review of attendance over  the 12 month period’ to influence and determine current day actions. This has the effect, despite any potential improvement in attendance, of past performance continuing to influence and determine future decisions. We would refer our members to Section 9.4.5 which refers to a 2 year period, however, we know that this is not a stop point for reviews.

Even prisoners get parole!

6.0 ‘Employee Reporting Procedure

The points below provide the basic reporting requirements.The school reserves the right to apply additional reporting requirements for different staff groups within school.

6.1 Day 1  On the first day of absence, the employee (or next of kin in exceptional circumstances) must inform his/her Line Manager or nominated Deputy by the time specified by the school, that they will not be reporting for duty, the reason for absence and likely length of absence.

More specific arrangements may be applicable in relevant service areas.

6.2 Day 4  Should employees find that they are unable to commence duty on the fourth day, they should inform their respective Line Manager or nominated Deputy that they will not be reporting for duty.  Employees must obtain an Employee’s Statement of Sickness available from the Human Resources Section or GP’s Surgery. This must be completed and should be forwarded to their manager. Any Statutory Sick Pay entitlement will be paid directly to the employee in the normal way with salary or wage.

6.3 Day 8  On the eighth day of absence, it is necessary for the employee to visit his/her GP immediately in order to obtain a Fit Note (replaced the Sick Note). A Fit Note will only cover the period from the eighth day onwards, and the previous seven days must be accounted for by the completion of the Employee’s Statement of Sickness. Both documents should be forwarded to the manager.

6.4 Further certification must be provided when required and contact maintained between the employee and manager as appropriate to the length of the absence.’

UNISON objects to the additional wording  –

‘The school reserves the right to apply additional reporting requirements for different staff groups within school’; and ‘More specific arrangements may be applicable in relevant service areas’.

This lack of clarity is outside the set Policy and as such is unacceptable. The consistency of approach for all staff should ensure that no particular group or service area is treated unfairly by additional reporting requirements.


Please email us if you need a copy.

Now more than ever, you need the support of your union.  Although we have to maintain social distance, we do have the capacity to hold ‘virtual’ meetings.  If you want to discuss issues of concern as part of a group, please email the branch and we will make the arrangements.  Alternatively email the branch to arrange a one-to-one discussion.  Stay Safe!