Joint Unions Call for Suspension of harsher Sickness Procedure

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Tower Hamlets Joint Trade Unions have issued an open letter calling for the imposition of a new Attendance Management Procedure on 1 April 2021 to be suspended.

This Attendance Management Procedure would replace the existing “Sickness Management Procedure” and create a fast track process with potentially just three steps to dismissal.

Step1.  STAGE ONE MEETING

Step 2. FINAL REVIEW

Step 3. CONSIDERATION FOR DISMISSAL

View the full procedure here:

Attendance Management Policy and Procedure.FINAL

It removes the informal stage of the process once trigger levels are reached.  Trigger levels in Tower Hamlets are very low, just five days in a year or 3 absences in a six-month rolling period. Once the process has started staff would be subject to a 12 month monitoring period, so a further five days in a year or 3 absences in a six month rolling period could bring them to a “final review” and a further five days in a year or 3 absences in a six month rolling period after that to “consideration for dismissal”.

Nine periods of absence, even of just a day each, over anything from a year to 3 years could lead to dismissal.

The combination of low trigger levels and no informal stage would force many workers into the formal process. The informal process is valued by staff, including frontline managers who oversee and operate it. It gives greater scope for informal discussion on sickness in a supportive environment rather than the immediate move to a formal process that is then just two steps from potential dismissal.

Staff with disabilities will be particularly concerned that they will be disproportionately impacted.

As we hopefully emerge from the pandemic staff have been under enormous stress. We are yet to see what the long-term impact of the pandemic is on health. The evidence of long-term impact of Covid 19 on some people, what is being termed “Long Covid”, is still just emerging. The full effect on ongoing stress, anxiety and mental health is unknown. There is some concern that the suppression of other viral infections, one of the main causes of short-term absence, through measures to control the spread of Covid 19 may lead to their resurgence as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic and measures are relaxed.

This is not the time for changing sickness procedures in a manner that feels punitive, but rather a period to offer support to staff with their physical and mental well being.

That is why unions are calling for the implementation of the “Attendance Management Procedure” on 1 April 2021 to be suspended.