Select Page

As an employer, sickness can be a touchy subject. It’s a difficult aspect of being an employer when you’re unsure if an employee is being honest when they are regularly taking days off sick.

Of course, people are going to be off sick from time to time, none of us are immune to illness. But issues with sickness arise from repeated short absences or serious illnesses, which result in employees being unable to work for a longer period of time.

Each case varies so situations must be individually assessed, but dismissals for sickness absence are legal if the correct procedures have been followed and are seen as fair and reasonable.

Long term absence

Long term absence is a difficult situation to handle. However, employers can dismiss employees because of their ill health if an employee is no longer capable of doing the job they have been contracted to do. There are steps to follow, though, to ensure that it isn’t seen as unfair dismissal.

There are three main areas a tribunal will look at, to see if a dismissal because of long term absence was unfair:

  • Whether the employer looked into your medical condition to find out when and if an employee will be returning to work, before the dismissal was made
  • Whether the employer carried out consultations with the employee, as part of the ACAS code
  • Whether the employer made efforts to get the employee back to work i.e. making adjustments to the workplace to make it easier to do the current job or finding a new role for the employee in the company

Unique scenarios

There are many variants that a tribunal would take into account, and areas that a business should consider before dismissing an employee for long term absence. These will all be unique to each employer and will influence the dismissal decision.

  • How long they have been employed
  • If cover can be arranged for the role
  • If it is vital to have a permanent employee
  • Whether the employer is large or small
  • If the reason for absence was work related
  • If a full recovery is likely

Specialist employment lawyers

If you are unsure about what measures you should take, as an employer, when dealing with an employee who is or will be absent for long periods, our specialist employment law team can provide details of the right actions to take.

For further advice on your unique situation, contact us using the telephone numbers below: