How do You Deal with Long Term Absence of Your Staff?

A few weeks ago in this blog we looked at how to manage short term absence and the benefits of getting it right. Click here to read that post. In this one, we’re looking at long term absence.

Long term absence is generally more than four weeks. It needs active management of the absence and your employee’s return to work, so that you can plan ahead and organise work and temporary cover. When you’re dealing with long term absence you should regularly review progress in a way your employee is comfortable with. Ask them whether they prefer contact by phone, email, or home visits.

When making contact with them you can discuss:

  • How long they’ve been away
  • How they are feeling and whether they feel ready to return
  • If there is anything you can do to help.

Keeping in touch and remaining constructive, supportive and open to addressing their concerns about returning to work makes your employees feel cared for and valued.
Long term illness requires medical involvement to assess the effects of your employee’s condition, the likely duration of their time off and whether you can take steps to help their return to work.

Long Term Sick Leave leading to Dismissal

Hopefully, if you keep speaking to your member of staff about their illness and absence, it won’t come to this. You need to consider and discuss all the options with your employee before arriving at this conclusion. If you do reach this stage, you need to show that the absence was sufficient for the employee’s recovering and that fair procedure has been followed, in order to justify dismissing them. It should be a last resort.

Whatever happens, here are three things you should do:

  • Monitor – you don’t know if you don’t ask and you won’t remember unless you record it
  • Talk, talk, talk to your employee to offer support
  • Get medical advice – you’re not expected to be the expert.

How do you deal with long term absence? What issues have you had and how have you dealt with them?