Employees who are absent on sick leave for long periods of time can cause disruption to your business. It is important to manage their absence properly and to help them return to working for you as soon as is reasonably practicable. As part of this, you may need to consider making reasonable adjustments to the workplace or the employee’s job to help them return. This will almost always include the need to obtain medical advice. Where the employee as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to consider reasonable adjustments, otherwise they leave themselves open to a potential claim of disability discrimination.
Pay during sickness absence
Whilst an employee is off work sick or injured, they are entitled to be paid statutory sick pay, providing that they are eligible. Employers may choose, however, to pay their employees further benefits for a period of their sick leave, as part of an enhanced benefits package. We can help advise you on employee’s statutory entitlement and the types of things you may wish to consider when deciding on what benefits you offer your employees.
Absence Management Policies
It is important to make sure that your policies and procedures for dealing with absences are up to date. Having an effective policy in place will help you to deal with absence consistently and effectively, as well as putting employees on notice as to the standards of attendance and reporting that you expect from them.
In addition to outlining the standards expected, you should also have a policy setting out when more formal action will be taken in relation to an employee’s absence. Your policy should only apply where the employee is unable to work as a result of sickness or injury; you should have a different policy to handle situations where the employee is unable to perform properly in their required job role, or where you believe that they are failing to attend work for no good reason. This would usually be under a performance management or disciplinary policy.
When carrying out any absence management procedure, it is important to act fairly and reasonably at all stages. If you do need to carry out a formal process, we can help you through this in a straightforward way, as failing to manage sickness absence appropriately can give rise to claims for disability discrimination.
Talk to Tollers
As employment law solicitors, we know how important managing absence can be and we can guide you through the processes, step-by-step, to help significantly reduce the risk of claims against your business. Get in touch with our employment specialists for expert advise and guidance.