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Informal meetings for attendance management (From PCS DWP Group) 10/05/2011

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060 Informal meetings for attendance management changes and PCS support for Members

DWP briefing 
Department for Work & Pensions Group

 
To: Branch Secretaries, Additional Branch Contact, Regional Secretaries, GEC
06 May 2011
DWP/BB/060/11

Informal meetings for attendance management
changes and PCS support for Members 

Managing change informally
DWP expects managers to have informal meetings with employees who are not disabled but have an underlying health condition.

Any separate or raised consideration point which has been awarded to take account of absences related to the underlying health condition will not apply from 11th April 2011.

Line managers are expected to discuss with employees what this change means for them, bearing in mind that employees cannot retrospectively change their attendance records, and how employees can be supported to help them meet the new attendance standard. The Complex Cases Advisory Service (CCAS) will give instruction on managing the transition.

PCS support for members
There is a long established approach for informal meetings related to sickness absence and attendance management which is that, as such meetings are supposed to be supportive, where a member wants a trade union representative or colleague present such requests should not be refused.

The DWP Desk Aide for informal Welcome Back Discussions, for example, states that:

The employee may be accompanied by a colleague or Trade Union Representative if they wish.

The Employee Policy Liaison Team has recently contacted the Head of CCAS “to emphasise that while such meetings are informal, they should be handled much the same way as the Welcome Back Discussion. If the employee wants to bring a TU rep, this should not be prevented.”

Informal and supportive
DWP expects managers to come to a view about disability, based on readily available information and a simple “balance of probability” consideration which takes into account:

• Whether the employee thinks they are disabled;
• The criteria summarized in Attendance Management Advice Q&A 7 and what the employee says about these;
• Any readily available information, including medical evidence, the employee is able easily to provide.

DWP advises that it is permissible to err on the side of leniency and, having tested the grounds of the employee’s self-declaration of disability in conversation, to accept that they probably are disabled.  Where a relatively small amount of additional sickness is involved, this might be preferable to instigating a formal occupational health investigation and provoking conflict.

David Burke
Group Assistant Secretary

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