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Disability leave principles

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) will ensure that all reasonable adjustments are taken to support staff with a disability and understands that staff with disabilities may require, at particular times, time off specifically for treatment, assessment or rehabilitation relating to their disability.

These principles are complemented by UHB’s existing provisions, procedures and resources:

  • Sickness absence and attendance procedure
  • Redeployment procedure
  • Special leave procedure
  • Flexible working procedure
  • Occupational Health resources and services
  • Health and wellbeing resources
  • Inclusion networks and resources

A reasonable period of paid disability leave will be provided to individuals where the appointment, activity or training is unable to be taken outside of work time or using flexible working arrangements. The disability leave period should be agreed between the staff member and their line manager in advance, taking into account the need to balance each individual’s circumstances with the needs of the department.


To receive disability leave, staff must share that they have been assessed as having a disability, or if a disability is self-identified by the member of staff, they should be referred to Occupational Health for assessment in order to support the staff member and ensure all reasonable adjustments are in place.

Managers should actively encourage staff to share their disability and for this to be recorded on their ESR profile.

Definition of a disability

The Equality Act 2010 states a person will be classed as disabled in law if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

  • Substantial means neither minor or trivial
  • Long-term means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months
  • Normal day-to-day activities include everyday things like eating, washing, walking, and going shopping

Disability leave and disability-related sickness absence

The difference between disability leave and disability-related sickness absence is as follows:

Disability leave

Disability leave is a form of absence for a short, planned appointment. For example, hospital, physiotherapy or counselling/psychotherapy. Disability leave is a form of paid leave under an employer’s special leave pay provisions

Disability-related sickness

Disability-related sickness is a form of sickness absence that is directly or indirectly attributed to a person’s disability or long-term condition. Such absences should be flagged by the staff member as being related to disability when notifying their manager of the period of sickness absence.

This type of leave can be full pay, half pay or unpaid leave in accordance with their NHS occupational sick pay benefits

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