Staff sickness and absence policy: model and examples

Download and adapt our model sickness and absence policy for your school's or trust's context. See example policies from other schools to get inspiration for your own.

Last reviewed on 18 April 2024See updates
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 41531
  1. Download our model policy 
  2. Take steps to keep your school or trust healthy
  3. Examples

Download our model policy 

This model document is designed for you to adapt to suit your school/trust's context. Our policy:

  • Has been approved by Forbes Solicitors and the NAHT union for school leaders
  • Is based on relevant requirements and good practice

Our policy includes a:

  • Return-to-work interview form and action plan
  • Timetable for a phased return to work

We recommend you consult with the unions represented at your school before implementing any new policy that refers to expectations of staff.

Model policy: sickness and absence

If you're a maintained school or single academy:

If you're a multi academy trust (MAT):

Take steps to keep your school or trust healthy

Reduce the impact of sickness among your staff members by implementing healthy practices to avoid the spread of illnesses, such as:

  • Promoting good hygiene and ventilation practices 
  • Offering schemes and benefits to boost staff members' health, for example:
    • Cycle to work
    • Vouchers for flu jabs

Keep staff wellbeing in mind

Take steps to reduce stress and look after your staff's mental health, to help reduce absence rates. For example:

  • Have a communications policy that limits opening emails in the evening and weekends, or when cc-ing is used and keep it under review to meet staff needs
  • Cut down on internal meetings
  • Use 'keep, tweak or ditch' to identify what’s overloading staff
  • Conduct a welfare check to find out how staff are doing, and what support they need
  • Provide practical support, such as referrals to occupational health services for staff with persistent absence issues
  • Set up a working group or appoint a wellbeing lead

For more support, take a look at our wellbeing toolkit for line managers, and browse Education Support's resources on wellbeing.


Primary schools

Newall Green Primary School in Manchester has an attendance management policy for staff. 

It covers both short and long-term absences, and sets out the procedures for how to notify the school in case of absence. 

Greenslade Primary School in London has a sickness and absence procedures document, which sets out the circumstances where staff absence may be considered, and the school's formal attendance management procedures.

Secondary school

The Priory Academy LSST in Lincolnshire has a staff sickness and absence policy. The policy covers, among other things:

  • Trigger points (i.e. how many days' absence will trigger certain actions)
  • Mental health in the workplace
  • Reporting procedures
  • Sick pay
  • Return-to-work interviews
  • Time off for medical appointments

The policy also explains that the pay, performance and HR committee has overall responsibility for the policy, but may delegate day-to-day responsibility to the human resources director (page 1).