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City of Edinburgh Council Sickness Absence Policy

City of Edinburgh Council DRAFT Sickness Absence Policy

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 old agreement.

“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 Agnes Petkevicius.

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 colleagues.

“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 President.

“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 level.


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Website designed and maintained by John Stevenson (Communications Officer)
UNISON City of Edinburgh Local Government & Related Sectors Branch 1998-2008.
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See also...

Due to the fact that the Council is set to impose the new policy from January 2012, we have taken the unusual step of making the DRAFT policy available to members online. Click here for a copy in PDF form NOTE This is a slightly more updated version tha nthe hard copy that has been sent out.