of Edinburgh Council DRAFT Sickness Absence
Edinburgh Council is to impose
new sickness absence rules from January 2012
which could see people sacked for being off
ill three times in three years. And because
the new rules allow the process to be shortened,
you could be out of a job even sooner.
After months of negotiation,
the unions have refused to sign up to the deal
and the Council has served notice to end the
“We managed to negotiate
some improvements but at the end of the day
the policy was so bad we could not recommend
it to members”, said Branch Secretary
The talks managed to remove plans
to do away with self certification (ie you would
have had to get a doctor’s line for every
absence) and they also managed to get a clause
where managers can assess some sickness (like
a planned operation) as a ‘one-off’
which would not kick in the procedures but lead
to a ‘review’ instead.
But the core processes stay the
same with the thresholds for entering the procedure
set ridiculously low:
Currently the policy kicks in
if you have three or more self certificated
absences in six months. The new scheme reduces
this to three instances of sickness absence
within a 12 month rolling period.
The other current threshold is
10 days off in any six months. The new scheme
kicks in after 6 days of sickness absence within
a 12-month rolling period.
So, if you are off three times
(or just once for six days) in a year, you can
get put on ‘monitoring’ and the
next time you are off it can go to Stage 2.
Catch the flu after that and you could be at
Stage 3 where you can be sacked!
The unions are worried that, far
from improving absence, these measures could
create more sickness as worried staff struggle
into work with colds and flu and infect their
“As a union we have no time
for people who abuse sickness absence because
we know the effect it has on our members who
have to cover”, said John Stevenson, Branch
“However, this is not the
way to resolve that. Excellent workers could
be sacked for minimal sickness. Instead of punishing
people for being sick, the Council would be
better looking at how their actions are creating
more stress. They should be looking at the causes
of sickness, not punishing the symptoms”.
The Branch is considering running
a consultative ballot on the decision to reject
the scheme. Look out for details.
FirstCare Pilot boycott?
UNISON is taking advice on boycotting
a pilot scheme where staff have to call a private
company, FirstCare, rather than their manager,
when they go off sick. The unions have not agreed
to this pilot and have major concerns about
confidentiality, conflict of interest in medical
advice and operational problems at workplace