Stage three hearing preparation
If the sickness absence procedure has been exhausted and there is no evidence that the member of staff will return to work in the foreseeable future, or further absence measures are required following initiation of stage two, the matter will progress to a stage three hearing.
Stage three hearings can result in the termination of employment or extension of the review period at stage two. Line managers will be supported at stage three by a HR representative.
Managers are required to present a management report to an independent panel at stage three hearings. The report should detail:
- how a member of staff's sickness absence has been managed
- how the procedure has been followed
- management support provided to help the member of staff sustain their attendance at work and/or return to work
- all reasonable adjustments that have been made and explored (for cases relating to members of staff with a disability)
Managers will need all the relevant documentation to complete an effective report. This includes sickness review outcome letters and occupational health reports as a minimum.
Comprehensive management reports are also useful as an information reference point for managers when they are asked questions during the hearing.
Member of staff
It is important to ensure staff members are appropriately supported prior to the hearing. Managers should check that the member of staff is clear on what a stage three hearing entails and be given a copy of the management report.
If the staff member requires support to attend the stage three hearing, please ensure the independent panel and HR representative are made aware of this.
If the staff member was off sick and has returned to work before the stage three hearing, ensure that the normal return to work process is followed and the member of staff is supported appropriately.
Line managers should arrange to meet with their HR representative prior to a stage three hearing.
The preliminary meeting provides an opportunity to seek clarification regarding the process. It also allows the management report to be discussed and any issues identified that may be a point of contention at the hearing.
Questions which may be asked by the panel and what the planned response could be, should also be discussed.
Stage three hearing process
A stage three hearing follows a set process. In brief, both the line manager and member of staff will have an opportunity to present their case, ask questions to each other and sum up their cases. The panel will have an opportunity to ask questions before adjourning and making a decision.
Line managers should make themselves familiar with the process ahead of the hearing. Full details can be found in appendices sickness absence and attendance at work procedure.