5th August 2019

Our Ref: SH/5/9


Dear Colleagues





The union’s negotiating team were recently invited to a meeting with Stena Line to discuss sickness absence at the company. Stena started the meeting with a presentation in which the company advised the union’s negotiating team of ‘the unsustainable high levels of Lost Working Time’ which are ‘causing significant unsustainable financial burden’ to their organisation. The union’s negotiating team were given a ship by ship and department by department breakdown of the sickness absence levels at Stena. Overall, the company advised your union that Lost Working Time from January to May 2019 equated to 8% of the workforce.

In order to combat the ‘high levels’ of sickness absence, Stena are therefore proposing the following:-

That paragraph 9.10 pf the CBA will be given effect to withhold/withdraw company sick pay from employees who reach the company’s triggers. The existing triggers will remain as follows:

•2 absences in a 6-month period.

•3 absences in a 12-month period.

•28 days continuous absence. 

In addition, Stena will use the following additional triggers:

•Unauthorised leave (failure to submit self-certificates/Fit Notes on time or at all).

•Failure to contact the company when requested.

•Undertaking an activity which is incompatible with the genuineness of reason given for absence.

•Development for a pattern of sickness that could tend to suggest that the sickness is not spontaneous.

•Reaching a level of 4.5% of lost working time in a 12 month period.

•A return date which coincides with a move to half pay or no pay.

•Taking sick leave when a request for other leave has been declined.

•Historically poor attendance, over the preceding 2 to 3 years; specifically, when the year on year absence is more than 4.5%.

Stena has reiterated that anyone who is genuinely absent from work does not need to be concerned by these additional triggers within the absence management process; employees that work with management will have the full support from Stena in returning them to work. The company states that it has demonstrated on numerous occasions that it is prepared to provide support, financial and medical, over and above the terms of the CBA for cases of genuine absence where employees diligently and honestly work with the company following the absence management process.

In exceptional circumstances, where an employee has made all reasonable efforts to arrange hospital consultant appointments outside of their working time, the company will grant time off with pay. This will of course be dependent on it being operationally viable to release employees from duty at the time requested and on productions of the appointment letter from the hospital.

For clarification purposes:-

•No certificate is required for the first 4 days of absence other than communicating with HR.

•A self-certification by employees is required to cover the fifth to the seventh day of absence.

•After 7 days of absence a medical certificate (Fit Note) from a Doctor is required.

The above requirement is regardless of shift pattern, the shift pattern is immaterial as to the requirement of self-certificates/Fit Notes, as a core employee Stena reserves the right to appoint its employees to any vessel in accordance with the CBA at any time.                                 

The National Executive Committee has considered this matter and has asked for you and your colleagues to share your views and to provide feedback on the proposals. Please forward your views to the Industrial Relations Department at Unity House by e-mailing

You can find a copy of the company’s presentation here:-

The National Executive Committee will reconsider this matter on Thursday 22nd August 2019; therefore, I require your feedback by midday on Wednesday 21st August 2019.

I look forward to receiving your responses.

Yours sincerely


Mick Cash

General Secretary