14 September, 2017

Attendance Policy and Ill-health: Reducing your Contractual Rights

The college is attempting to impose changes to the attendance (sickness) policy. The policy changes are worse than the ones outlined in the last briefing note. The policy has not been agreed by the unions.

Dear QMUCU Member

Last week (Tuesday, 5 September) we contacted you about about changes to the attendance policy and the ballot that would soon arrive in your inbox.

Management announced their attempt to impose the policy in the 13 September e-bulletin.

The policy management wishes to impose is worse than the one outlined in my email because parts agreed with QMUCU about short-term illness and parts agreed earlier with Unison about long-term illness have not been implemented.

The policy management is seeking to impose reduces the value of your sick leave entitlement without compensating improvements to process or support. We delayed the ballot because management held out the chance of further negotiations. These have not happened.

Policy changes alter your employment contract and therefore must be agreed with the unions (section 1c). We have not agreed these changes on your behalf.

We recommend that you do not accept these changes to your contract of employment.

Treatment of Long-term Illness

In the case of long term illness (section 14), management is trying to impose a single stage process. A manager can move to a formal hearing and possible dismissal less than two months after you first fell ill. This is a considerable change from the three stage process.

Triggers to Formal and Informal Action

The policy management is trying to impose further reduces the trigger for formal action and fails to have different triggers for formal and informal action.

Until now, 20 days of sick leave was the trigger for action. Management wants to halve this to 10 days.

It was our understanding, following meetings between management and QMUCU on 23 August and 24 August, that a compromise of 15 days was on offer for formal action.

The policy management is trying to impose would trigger action after 10 days total illness or three absences — reduced from 20 days or six absences.

Moreover, informal and formal action both appear to be triggered at 10 days (see sections 8, 9, 10).

Contractually, you are entitled to at least three months leave on full pay, and as much as a full year between full and half pay (see Appendix 2 or your terms and conditions).

This policy would mean that you can be called to account when only ~5% through your full pay sick leave entitlement (of six months on full pay and six months on half pay).

Feedback from Members

Your fellow members have written to highlight problems that directly affect them or colleagues:

  • The policy ignores the NHS’s lengthening waiting lists,
  • The policy disproportionately and adversely affects women,
  • The policy exacerbates stress related illness, and slows recovery through increased stress, and
  • The policy is particularly retrograde for those with long-term illness.

Next Steps

Please review our communication from last week and consider the above. You should have received a ballot directly from UCU on 15th September.

The policy management is seeking to impose is on connect.

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