Friday, 8 February 2013

Sick of working: advice for employers

Handling dismissal due to illness

Occasionally an employee may have to leave  employment because of long-term ill health. Sometimes the employee will simply choose to resign. However, if they do not and a return to full duties looks impossible, you might eventually have to consider dismissing them.

You must consider every reasonable measure you could take to help them get back to work; dismissal is a last resort and could be ruled unfair if not handled properly. It's vital that you determine whether or not they are disabled under the Equality Act 2010.

You can seek to obtain a medical report from their GP (you'll need their permission), or an occupational health assessment. Remember to ask questions that are relevant to their job- how else can you hope to get the information you need to make an informed decision? Employees have the right to see a GP's report before you, and may choose not to disclose some information. This is their right.

If it's just impossible for them to remain in employment because there are no reasonable adjustments that can be made, it may be fair for you to dismiss them, even if they are disabled.

During any dismissal procedure, you should treat all employees with sensitivity. Be human about it- it's going to change their life after all. You should also act fairly and reasonably. A dismissal procedure should follow the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

If you are seen to have unreasonably failed to follow the code, and the issue ends up at an employment tribunal, the employee's compensation could increase by up to 25%.

If the employee involved is disabled, you may also have to make further reasonable adjustments to allow for their needs.

Get good advice, don't write people off- and you'll protect yourself and your business.

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