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Back in May we sent out a survey asking our disabled members about their experiences of the Sickness Absence Procedure at SHU. We were pleased to receive a very strong response.

The survey showed that over half of the respondents were told at some point by their line manager that their sickness absence levels were too high. It also showed that over 70% of respondents had been put on an informal sickness absence monitoring plan by their manager for disability related absence. Over 40% of respondents felt that their managers hadn’t taken into account their impairment before putting informal sickness absence monitoring in place. 

The Formal ‘Sickness Absence Procedure’

Over half of the respondents who had been entered into informal sickness absences procedure were progressed onto the formal Sickness Absence Procedure. Over half of these members felt that their disabilities were not taken into account by the decision to escalate to formal proceedings, and half also received a formal warning or ‘improvement notice’.

Most of these members requested reasonable adjustments via the process, with mixed success. Only half agreed that reasonable adjustments were put in place effectively for them, and only 35% agreed that the Sickness Absence Procedure was supportive and helped them to improve their sickness absence.

A majority also felt that the absence targets given to them were not achievable. This supports our view that where appropriate, adjusted sickness absence targets should be used to support disabled staff members.

Overall, while some members felt that SHU had treated them fairly, others described their experience of the SHU sickness absence policies as inflexible, and overly concerned with presenteeism. Some members also felt that the policies did not account clearly enough for the different needs of disabled and non-disabled staff members.

Disability Passports

We also took the opportunity to ask all members who responded to the survey about their experience of the ‘Disability Passport’. Only 15% of respondents had been approached by their manager to create a passport and to record the reasonable adjustments they require. 

We would like to see managers utilising the disability passport more for employees. You can find more information about the disability passport here.

Thank you to everybody who took the time to fill in the survey, and we will continue to work towards better support for disabled members.

Ana Yousaf & Rich Nind