Unsatisfactory Attendance Procedure (UAP)
The Force's Unsatisfactory Attendance and Performance Procedure is the means by which it implements the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012.
Very basically, 'unsatisfactory attendance' means an inability or failure of an officer to perform their duties to a satisfactory standard because their levels of attendance prevent them from doing so.
The primary aim of UAP is to improve attendance.
UAP is a multi-stage process which can, ultimately, result in dismissal. Details of these stages are found within both the regulations and the Force's Unsatisfactory Attendance Procedure.
UAP can be applied to all police officers up to and including the rank of chief superintendent. It can also be applied to special constables.
UAP cannot be applied to student police officers during their probationary period (Regulation 13 of the Police Regulations 2003 govern performance and attendance issues regarding student police officers).
Northumbria Police Federation have worked closely with the Force regarding an amended Unsatisfactory Attendance Procedure. This amended procedure became effective on 8/7/16 and there is now a greater emphasis upon the use of 'supportive measures' prior to the instigation of the procedure. The Force's procedure now reads:
'Line managers must consider and implement all appropriate and available supportive measures as soon as the officer's attendance or performance has been identified as requiring improvement, and prior to consideration of progression to a formal approach. The officer must be provided with a reasonable and appropriate opportunity to act upon the advice, support and guidance provided to them'.
It is believed that this approach, outside of the formal use of UAP, will successfully deal with most attendance issues.
What this new Force procedure is setting out is that managers will invest time, consideration and effort into supporting officers and will not proceed to the instigation of UAP until their efforts have had sufficient opportunity and time to achieve progress.
The Force procedure details a number of 'consideration points' (eg. 28 day absence with no realistic prospect of a return to work within a reasonable time frame etc). Reaching one of these 'consideration points' DOES NOT 'trigger' the instigation of UAP; they are 'points' at which a first line manager should consider the full circumstances of the officer's absence and then consider the best way to improve attendance. To be fair, a good manager will pre-empt these consideration points and offer / implement support in advance of them. Home Office guidance on UAP states, 'There is no single formula for determining the point at which concern about a police officer's attendance should lead to formal procedures under the Performance Regulations being invoked. Each case must be considered on its merits'.
An important point to note is that the decision to progress to a 'Stage 1 UAP meeting', as well as any decisions made at that meeting, solely lies with the officer's first line manager. Managers can seek advice from Human Resources, however, the responsibility for decision-making in such cases rests exclusively with the first line manager. First line managers who simply deliver a pre-determined decision by a more senior officer would be operating outside of the Regulations, as would the senior officer. Northumbria Police Federation are more than willing to provide a Federation Representative to support and advise any manager who is exploring issues of unsatisfactory attendance, regardless whether that be through supportive measures or UAP.
Officers have the right to be accompanied and supported during the entire process by a 'Police Friend'. Northumbria Police Federation offer the service of a Federation Representative to fulfil this function to all subscribing members.
If the matter results in a 'Stage 3 meeting', which is the stage at which dismissal may be considered, an officer can be legally represented. Subscribing members of Northumbria Police Federation will receive legal representation at this stage of the procedure.
Officers can seek legal advice at any stage during the UAP process.
During the consideration and application of supportive measures and / or the use of UAP, managers should always make appropriate reference to the provisions of the Equality Act, which places an obligation on them, whilst dealing with an officer with a disability, to consider making reasonable adjustments to the officer's work or their workplace, in order to allow them to continue to work. For example, in some cases, this may involve a review of the 'consideration points' with a view to a consideration of greater tolerance of absence, although most disabled officers do not have high levels of absence.
Absences related to terminal illness, pregnancy, and injury on duty will 'generally' be discounted in relation to UAP. Similarly, when an officer has been referred to a Selected Medical Practitioner for consideration as to whether they are deemed to be permanently disabled in accordance with Police Pension Regulations, UAP would not be progressed.
Our strong advice to officers and managers is to make early contact with a Federation Representative whenever they feel they need advice or support regarding the use of supportive measures or UAP.