Important – these changes affect YOU
Since 1st April there have been changes (some significant) to lots of company policies. Some of these changes are due to new legislation, but the company has used this opportunity to change some parts for the worse. In the past when we have been consulted we have published the drafts to members, to allow them to comment and have input to the consultation. The company have not consulted with UNITE (and in some cases not with the UKCF either) about these changes but have gone ahead and implemented them across the company.
There have been big changes in the policies dealing with sickness and attendance at work:
· Attendance at Work Guidelines
· Short Term & Intermittent Absence From Work Guidelines
· Long Term Sickness Absence From Work Guidelines
· Unauthorised Absence From Work Guidelines
· Guidelines For Dealing With Disabilities
· Sick Pay Guidelines
· Return to Work Interview Guidelines
· Alcohol, Drug & Substance Abuse Guidelines
· Dealing with HIV/AIDS in the Workplace Guidelines
There have also been changes to some of the other policies:
· Business Travel & Expenses Policy Guidelines
· Business Travel & Expenses Policy
· Bullying Harassment and Victimisation Guidelines
· Bullying Harassment and Victimisation Policy
Some examples of the changes which cause serious concern include:
- ‘Managers will interview all employees on their return from absence, where the duration of the absence is greater than or equal to one day. The purpose of the interview is to explore the causes of the absence, to facilitate the employee’s return to work, and identify any reasonable and practical steps to reduce the likelihood of future absence.’
- ‘Without prior management agreement, e-mails, text messages and faxes are unacceptable as the sole method of notifying absence, unless in extreme circumstances but may be used to record or draw attention to attempts to notify the Company. If the manager is unavailable, and there is no voice mail facility, the employee or their nominee must notify the manager’s nominated deputy.’
- Appointments – ‘Employees are expected to make every effort to minimise disruption to service delivery by arranging these appointments outside of their normal working hours wherever possible. Where this is not possible, they should attempt to arrange appointments at the beginning or end of the day. It will be at the manager’s discretion as to how time off for medical appointments is recorded, e.g. sickness, unpaid leave, holidays or “making up the time” depending on the individual circumstances. Employees may be required to produce evidence of their appointment.’ The 2nd statement leaves scope for some managers to treat employees inconsistently.
- Guidance Standards:
Trigger – level of sickness absence
Suggested action to be taken
4 absences of 1 day or more or 14 days sickness absence in a 12 month period
Attendance Review Meeting
A further 2 occasions of sickness absence or 10 days sickness absence in the next six month period
Stage 1 – First Written Warning
A further 2 occasions of sickness absence or 10 days sickness absence in the six month period following the first written warning
Stage 2 – Second Written Warning
A further 2 occasions of sickness absence or 10 days sickness absence in the 6 month period following the second written warning
Stage 3 – Final Written Warning
A further 2 occasions of sickness absence or 10 days sickness absence in any 6 month period following the final written warning
Stage 4. Dismissal may be considered. All cases will be dealt with on an individual basis
In summary these new policy and guidelines for attendance at work include significant changes and show that the company are looking to make the process for reporting absence and interviewing employees when they return from absences more time-consuming and rigid, while the trigger levels for Attendance Improvement Plans and disciplinary action are harsh, discriminatory and punitive. The tone of the policies is to treat employees as guilty until proven innocent.
UNITE is asking members to comment on the changes to the policies by emailing the Amicus the Union mailbox, and to consider what action UNITE should take regarding the non-consultation over these changes. Please take the time to comment. These changes WILL affect you.
Some of your reps have begun working through the attendance policies and making comments. To make it easier for you to comment and to avoid duplication, UNITE has published the set of the attendance related policies including the comments already made on CafeVIK. You will need the password forcommentonly to access them.
The company has now agreed to meet with UNITE reps to take another look at the policies, so your input will be valuable. UNITE has a track record of winning improvements, as we recently reported in relation to sickness absence reporting.