Dealing with employees, or unfortunately dismissing employees, who are on long-term sick leave can be a challenge for a lot of employers.
Although the underlying reasons for being off sick can be completely genuine, having an employee on long-term sick leave can mean and emotional as well as a financial challenge to the employer.
It is good for employers to bear in mind the steps they should be taking when an employee is off on long-term sick leave. In any case, keep in contact with any employee on sick leave. Be that short-term or long-term sick leave.
If an employee had been off sick for more than 7 consecutive days, they should provide a doctor’s note to the employer that indicates when they are likely to return to work.
If an employee has been off sick for more than 4 weeks, the employer may want to consider referring the employee to the Government’s ‘Fit for Work’ scheme or requesting a report from the employee’s doctor. Both would require the employee’s approval.
The GP or doctor may at this point advise of some adjustments that may facilitate the employee’s return to work. The employer should consider these and discuss options with the employee.
If the employee is still not able to return to work the employer should ensure they get regular updates on the employees medical status.
It can be fair for an employer to dismiss someone on long-term sick leave when:
There are no guarantees, but if the employee has been of sick for over 12 months and there is no certainty regarding when they will be able to return to work, it can be fair for the employer to consider dismissal.
Sorry about the above – employers need to consider each case with its own set of unique circumstances.
If you need further help with an employee who has been off work or is likely to be off work for sometime, give Breathing Space HR (Home of up&up) a call for some advice on what needs to be done.