Sickness absence

Information for staff on sickness absence.

People and Money implementation

This information and guidance is still correct and continues to apply until further notice. 

Reporting Sickness Absence

Employees must email to report their absence from work as soon as possible. This should be before the employee was due to start work, or as soon after, on the first day of absence. The email should state the reason for absence, a telephone number at which the staff member may be contacted, if necessary, and, if possible, the expected date of return to work. The employee should, if possible, detail any urgent work/matters that would be required to be covered in their absence.

This email account is monitored by InfHR, who will advise the line manager of staff absences notified to the email account. If a line manager receives notification of sickness absence from a staff member directly, they must, in turn, notify InfHR will contact the staff member for more information, if necessary. should be notified:

  • If there are any changed to the expected duration of the sickness
  • If no duration originally notified then absence should be notified daily
  • Once the employee has returned to work, either by the staff member or the line manager

Employees and their managers are responsible for making arrangements to keep in touch during an absence.

Further information on the University's Absence Management Policy is available under the link below.

A-Z Policies

Covid-19 related absences

If you have tested positive for Covid-19 and/or need to self-isolate you need to inform the University by using the below reporting link as well as notifying InfHR as per the above reporting absence School policy.

Covid-19 reporting (Staff)

Covid-19 Reporting and Recording Process and Guidance

Self-Certification/Return to work Form

An employee can self-certify a sickness absence up to seven consecutive days. A return to work form should be completed and submitted to InfHR.

Return to work form

Managers should arrange for ‘Return to Work Discussions’ following an absence, where either:

  • The employee has been absent for more than 3 days
  • The employee’s level of absence is unsatisfactory
  • A more structured approach to absence management is required

Should the line manager deem that all details required for completion of the return to work form have been covered within the notification of absence and subsequent conversations the line manager may decide the form is not required. In these cases, the line manager should notify InfHR and the email trail containing the required information will be uploaded to the employee's staff file for documentation.

Medical Certification

Should an absence last longer than seven consecutive days then a ‘Fit-Note’ must be provided by the employee’s doctor/GP. In the unfortunate circumstance that an employee has been in hospital, the hospital will provide you with documentation to confirm and this should be submitted in place of the Fit-Note. An employee may be required to submit both hospital documentation and a Fit-Note to cover a period of absence depending on the circumstances.  

For absences lasting for longer than seven consecutive days, a return to work interview with the employee’s line manager is required and a completed return to work form must be submitted to InfHR along with the Fit-Note/hospital documentation. 

Return to work form

Should an employee be given a longer-term Fit Note, they may wish to send these to InfHR for recording during their period of absence. In these cases, a return to work meeting and form must still be completed upon return and a copy of these Fit Notes may be requested by the line manager for this purpose.


Occupational Health Service

Occupational Health is a service provided by the University of Edinburgh to advise managers and employees on health-related matters which affect employees work.

The Occupational Health service can advise on workplace adjustments, phased returns to work, further support needed at work, likely duration of absences or specific issues about named illnesses.

Should you be concerned about a member of staff or feel you would benefit from this service, further information can be found here:

Occupational Health

Alternately, please feel free to get in touch with InfHR who would be happy to have a confidential conversation at your convenience.