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Sick Leave Policy

The purpose of this document is to establish policy and guidelines to staff in relation to the taking of Sick Leave.
Subject  Sick Leave Policy  
Date of effect  1 September 1999
Date of last revision  26 March 2009
Date due for review  26 March 2012
Previous policy 
Policy number  
File number 97/0575
Contact Human Resources Manager

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to establish policy and guidelines to staff in relation to the taking of Sick Leave.

Policy statement

This policy does not replace sick leave entitlements under the Crown Employee (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award. All information provided in this policy is based on the details provided in the Personnel Handbook (Section 6 - 18).

Practices and procedures

General

Sick leave, as one form of absenteeism, should be managed in a consistent way with other forms of unscheduled absence. State Records has a responsibility to manage sick leave in a fair and equitable way, which takes account of the circumstances and results of individual absences.

The control of excessive sick leave is the responsibility of the department as a whole and line managers as individuals. This responsibility is based on:

  • ensuring the health and well-being of staff; and
  • the efficient and effective operation of the department.

As with any form of absenteeism, the responsibility for reducing sick leave at the organisational level requires the development of a variety of human resource management strategies. This in turn involves a detailed assessment of the underlying causes of sick leave which may be related to work (for example, occupational hazards, uninteresting or unchallenging work activities). Monitoring work attendance on a regular basis is vital to the identification of causes and the evaluation of strategies developed to reduce sick leave.

Public service procedures

To ensure consistency throughout the public service, the following procedures have been adopted by State Records.

  1. Employees with five absences of sick leave during the 12 months previous to the last incidence of unsupported leave, will be interviewed by their supervisor to discuss reasons for sick leave. Following interview and examination of sick leave absences within the context of the employee’s overall attendance patterns and work performance, it may be decided to take no further action.
  2. If there is reason to continue to monitor sick leave absences, then a period of three months will be specified for improvement, and the employee advised of the consequences  of continued unsupported
  3. If no improvement occurs within this three month period then medical certificates will be required for each future sick leave absence for a minimum period of three months.

Counselling

At all stages in the management process the responsibility for counselling the employee or referral to a counselling service rests with the supervisor/manager. Such counselling must always precede application of any sanctions (for example, imposition of the medical certificate requirement), and must include clear indications of the next steps to be taken. Confidentiality is guaranteed.

Notification

An employee unable to attend work through illness shall contact their supervisor or another appropriate employee as soon as possible, preferably before 10.00am on the day leave is being taken. On return to work a formal application for sick leave shall be submitted as soon as possible and except as provided in Section 6 – 18.10 of the Personnel Handbook, shall include details of the nature of the illness.

Entitlements

  1. At the commencement of employment with the Public Service, a full time staff member is granted an accrual of 5 days sick leave.
  2. After the first four months of employment, the staff member shall accrue sick leave at the rate of 10 working days per year for the balance of the first year of service.
  3. After the first year of service, the staff member shall accrue sick leave day to day at the rate of 15 working days per year of service.

The unused component of the annual entitlement is fully cumulative.

For an employee working part-time, the annual sick leave entitlement will accrue on a pro-rata basis and any unused leave shall be fully cumulative

The maximum amount of paid sick leave that may be granted during the first three months of employment is five days, this of course does not apply to people transferring from another government agency

Medical certificates

  • A certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner shall be accepted for sick leave purposes.
  • A certificate from a registered practitioner who is not also a registered medical practitioner, such as, dentist, optometrist, chiropractor, osteopath, physiotherapist, and oral/maxillo facial surgeon, shall be accepted for maximum period of absence of one week. Periods in excess of one week must be supported by a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner. 
  • An employee shall provide a medical certificate for any absence in excess of two days or for a lesser period if required by the Director.

Attendance for treatment

General

Sick leave shall be granted to cover attendance at treatments only when the Director is satisfied that an appointment could not be obtained outside normal working hours and that the treatment was urgently needed. Sick leave shall be granted in non-urgent cases only where it was not possible to obtain an appointment outside normal working hours.

Special cases

Speech therapy clinics

Employees admitted into speech therapy clinics shall be granted available sick leave to attend, subject to the production of satisfactory evidence of attendance.

Alcoholism counselling

Employees receiving counselling for alcoholism shall be granted sick leave to attend, subject to the production of satisfactory evidence of attendance.

Periodic treatment

Where an employee has a medical condition that requires periodic treatment of short duration (for example, physiotherapy) all consequential absences shall be aggregated for the purpose of debiting against leave credits.

Confidentiality

An employee wishing the nature of illness to remain confidential, need not record the nature of illness on the sick leave application form as long as one of the following options is taken.

  1. The employee must give a personal explanation to the supervisor or some other person at a similar supervisory level (of the same sex as the employee if they so wish), who will certify on the application form that the granting of sick leave is appropriate in the circumstances.
  2. The employee shall submit to the department an application for sick leave with:     
    1. the medical certificate in a sealed envelope, and
    2. a completed authorisation form Request for Nature of Illness to Remain Confidential for referral to the Government Medical Officer (HealthQuest) for determination as to whether a grant of sick leave is warranted.

These documents will then be referred to HealthQuest.

Frequency of absence

Where an employee is ill so frequently as to raise the question of fitness to carry out the duties of the position or is absent frequently on sick leave, arrangements shall be made to have the employee examined by the Government Medical Officer (HealthQuest) as to fitness to continue duty.

Exhaustion of paid sick leave

Where all paid sick leave entitlements for which an employee is eligible have been exhausted the employee may elect to use part or all of any recreation and/or extended leave credits or to proceed onto sick leave without pay.

Recredit of leave

An employee who becomes ill while on recreation or extended leave, and who has sick leave to credit, may have the period of leave during which the illness occurred, recredited subject to the employee:

  • contacting the Director at the earliest opportunity, notifying details of the situation, and
  • providing a medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner which clearly states the nature and duration of the illness.

In the case of extended leave the illness and supporting medical certificates must be for a period of at least 5 working days before the leave will be recredited.

Please contact your supervisor or the Human Resources Manager on telephone: (02) 9673 1788 if you require any further information.

Definitions

Sick leave is paid leave of absence which may be granted to protect the health of the employee concerned, other employees, and/or the public, and is designed to cover those absences where the Director is satisfied that an employee was unable to perform duty on account of illness.

For the purposes of this policy illness shall mean:

  • a virus, disease or infection
  • an injury
  • a recognised psychological illness which may not be manifested as a physical illness, or
  • incapacity to attend work as a result of treatment administered under an In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Program.

References

Personnel Handbook, (Section 6-18);

Public Sector Management (General) Regulation 1996, Part 6, Division 9;

Public Employment Office Determination (Sick Leave).

 

Alan Ventress
Director

26 March 2009