Managing Sickness Absence

Date Added 18.05.16

Managing sickness absence can be one of toughest tasks for employers. We are here to help.

How are you going to handle it?

What’s the reason for the absence? Is it a genuine illness or conduct?

If it’s genuine illness a Capability Procedure should usually be followed.

  • It is important that you investigate the likely cause of absence. This could involve requesting a medical report from the employee’s GP;
  • ‘Appropriate’ contact with the employee should be maintained throughout their absence, for instance regular correspondence to see how they are feeling, but not so regularly that they feel harassed!
  • When you have obtained a medical report or an occupational health report for the employee you should discuss the results with them;
  • You should also consider whether making reasonable adjustments or alternatives to the employee’s working environment should be implemented;
  • Is the employee reasonably likely to be able to return?
  • Has this been considered?

If it’s conduct a Dismissal Process could be more appropriate.

  • Is a Conduct Procedure necessary? Are there reasonable grounds to believe that this is a malingering employee?
  • Is there some other substantial reason for the absence?
  • It is important to ensure that a fair process is carried out. This would involve writing to the employee and inviting them to attend a formal meeting, they should be informed of their right to be accompanied and provided with the chance to appeal any dismissal or disciplinary sanction made against them.

What should you consider?

It is imperative that you keep the Equality Act 2010 in mind when considering sickness absence:

  • If an employee is treated less favourably, for a reason related or connected to their disability they may bring a disability discrimination claim against you in the Employment Tribunal;
  • You have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees who do suffer from a disability;
  • Employees should not be victimised and or harassed as a consequence of their disability;
  • Sickness absence is a confidential topic and should only be discussed between management and with the employee.

Need some advice?

Talk to Tollers! We are HeRe for you.

Tollers’ Employment Law Team are here to help should you have any queries regarding this article, do not hesitate to contact us on 01604 258558.

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