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Sickness management can pose a number of considerations and risks for employers. In this article, we provide some of our top tips to help employers and HR professionals manage staff sickness.
Have a well drafted Sickness Management Policy which you regularly review and update. A good policy will include a procedure for reporting sickness by employees; record keeping; rules around self-certification and when more evidence is required; entitlement to sick pay including whether the company offers enhanced sick pay; the level of contact from the employee required during sickness absences; provision for the employee attending medical examinations; and return to work interviews.
If you currently don’t have a policy we strongly recommend instructing a legal team to draft one for your business.
Carefully consider whether an Occupational Health Report should be obtained by the employer to give insight into the nature of the illness, likely duration of the absence, whether risk assessments should be done and potential adjustments for the employee. This will also help you establish if the employee falls under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended. If they do, you have additional duties as an employer, which includes providing reasonable adjustments for the employee in their work.
Consider whether the workplace has in any way caused the illness. This will include considering whether there has been any work related stress referred to by the employee, or referenced in any of the medical evidence (whether on GP notes provided by the employee or on in any Occupational Health Report you obtain). This will establish if there are any additional steps you need to take.
Whilst there may be scope to discipline, or in more serious cases, dismiss an employee for sickness absence, it is imperative you speak to your legal team before taking any action. This will ensure you are properly advised of any risks or procedures you should comply with. This advice can vary greatly on a case by case basis, given it will depend on the nature of the illness, duration, number of absences, previous record or warnings issued and cause of the sickness. It is therefore important to speak to your legal team for each new case of sickness absence management to protect your business from claims of unfair dismissal or disability discrimination.
If you require any assistance on managing sickness absence please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment team.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor.