Handling Sickness Absence

Here is some guidance as to how to employee sickness absence:


  1. Check (and comply with) any relevant sickness or absence procedures and employment contract provisions.
  2. Keep confidential records or medical certificates, correspondence, telephone calls and meetings.


  1. Investigate nature, extent and likely duration of illness. Ask the employee for information and obtain medical report if appropriate. (If absence is stress-related, refer the employee to any stress policy or counselling services on offer).
  2. Keep in contact with the employee, especially in relation to medical evidence received, prior to making adjustments, identifying an alternative position or taking decision to dismiss.

Disability/reasonable adjustments

  1. Is the employee disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010? NB medical evidence required.
  2. Can adjustments be made, eg to duties/hours, that would facilitate a return to work?
  3. Are such adjustments reasonable in the circumstances?

Reviewing the alternatives to dismissal

  1. Consider surrounding circumstances, length of service and other similar situations.
  2. Consider the importance of the employee and/or the post s/he holds; what is the impact of her/his continued absence on the firm? What is the difficulty and cost of dealing with her/his continued absence?
  3. Is there alternative employment for the employee?
  4. Can the firm make a claim under its PHI policy?
  5. Review medical evidence; ensure it is up-to-date.
  6. Identify the potentially fair reason for dismissal: capability/conduct/some other substantial reason?

Contemplating Dismissal

  1. Invite the employee to a meeting. Set out reasons.
  2. Hold a meeting at which the employee has right to be accompanied.
  3. Give a decision in writing with the right of appeal.

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