When an employee is off work on long term sickness it can be challenging on business resources, but there is certain protocol that every employer needs to follow when decided if an employee should be dismissed because during time off with long term sickness.
Here at aspire cambridge we would recommend that best practice is to stay in contact with the employee throughout the time they are absent from work, you will also need to ask for consent from the employee to obtain recent medical evidence. It is recommended that you ask the employee of their prospects of returning to work and while they are absent on long-term sick you need to keep track of their progress.
What to Consider As an Employer
As a reasonable employer you should consider whether an reasonable adjustments will enable your employee to return to work before dismissing them. It is your duty as an employer to make reasonable adjustments only when an employee has a disability, but as a good employer we would recommend you consider adjustments that can be made even if no disability exists.
Ensure that you communicate with the employee and see if they have any requirements of reasonable adjustments that can be made to the workplace to help with their return. You may find that your employee feels that they are unable to return to work even if adjustments are made and then they will resign because of this reason.
However, if your employee does not resign they will remain an employee of your business until they are dismissed, regardless of whether they are working or absent due to ill health.
What If Adjustments Can’t Be Made?
In some cases it is not possible for reasonable adjustments to be made for the employee and at this time you need to consider if there are any alternative positions in the business that would be suitable for the employee.
If no other positions are available or suitable within the business or if the employee rejects options of other employment than as an employer you can fairly dismiss an employee who is on sick leave for a potentially fair reason such as medical capability.
This will also apply when an employee is on long-term sick leave and does not show any prospects of returning to work in a reasonable time. A ‘reasonable amount of time’ is set in relation to the type of position the employee holds within the business and the difficulty for the employer to cover the position during their absence.
While an employer is not expected to keep a position open for an employee indefinitely, an employer does have to ensure that all the necessary investigations have been carried out fairly before an employee is dismissed. It is essential that all the crucial information has been clarified and the employee has been involved and informed of the situation every step of the way.
It is very important that as an employer you follow the contractual procedures at all times; if an employee cannot attend a meeting at work then you offer a meeting at their home or a meeting over the phone. After the meeting you will need to compare the facts to previous scenarios and outcomes to ensure you make a fair, consistent and reasonable decision for the employee and your business.