Sickness Absence

Every employee will invariably be sick and unable to work from time to time.  But it is important to keep in contact to establish any support they need and when you can expect them to return to work. In extreme circumstances, or where you suspect the sickness my not be genuine, it may be necessary to terminate a contract of employment but you must follow a fair procedure first – do you have the correct processes in place?

Short Term Absence:

  • Discuss the problem with your employee as soon as possible and keep lines of communication open at all times
  • Monitor the absence and document the ‘calling in sick’ process.  Can the employee complete a self-certification notification or do you require a Dr’s letter?
  • Once your employee is fit to return to work, make sure you have all your ducks in a row and have conducted a thorough return to work interview
  • If necessary instigate a formal action process including warnings and dismissal, as a last resort
  • Learn from employee absence, conduct reviews and look for patterns that can help you to avoid absence in the future

Long Term Absence:

  • This is when a period of absence exceeds four weeks in duration.  In these instances an employee is required to provide medical support
  • Keep in regular contact and help to obtain medical advice that will assist in return to work
  • Avoid the risk of disability discrimination by taking your duty of care seriously and making all necessary adjustments
  • Manage return to work effectively, consider a phased return where necessary or take all the right steps to instigate dismissal on the grounds of ill health

Dismissal is always a last resort, factors that must be taken in to consideration before heading down this path include:

  • The nature and length of the illness
  • Length of service and previous record
  • Any improvement in attendance
  • The effect of absence on colleagues and the business as a whole
  • Whether there are other employment options available