Sickness-Related Dismissals Checklist

This checklist sets out the steps a business should take when it is considering dismissing an employee for a sickness absence-related reason. Although this can be a fair reason to dismiss an employee, it is important to follow the correct procedure.

Review and retain the correct documentation

  • If the business has a sickness or absence policy, make sure it is complied with.
  • Review the relevant provisions in the employee’s contract of employment.
  • Keep confidential records of medical certificates, correspondence, telephone calls and meetings.

Conduct an investigation

  • Investigate the nature, extent and likely duration of the medical condition causing the absence. Ensure the business has the up-to-date medical evidence that gives a clear prognosis (obtained with the employee’s written consent).
  • If the absence is stress-related, refer the employee to the business’s stress policy (if one exists) or any counselling services that are on offer. Consider whether dismissal could be avoided by changing the employee’s role or duties.
  • If the absences are short-term and intermittent, the business should investigate whether there is an underlying cause (medical or otherwise). If necessary the business should follow a capability or disciplinary procedure, setting timescales for improvement and giving warnings where appropriate.
  • Maintain contact with the employee throughout the investigation, especially when the business:
  • receives medical evidence;
  • is considering what adjustments to make or whether an alternative position would be suitable;
  • is contemplating dismissing the employee.

Disability and reasonable adjustments

Consider whether:

  • The employee is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 (relying on medical evidence as required).
  • Any adjustments to the employee’s duties or workplace would assist their return to work (or their taking less time off work if their absences are intermittent) and, if so, whether making those adjustments would be reasonable in the circumstances.
  • There is another job within the business that might be more suitable for the employee.

Review the alternatives to dismissal

Before taking the decision to dismiss, the business should consider:

  • The importance of the employee and the position they occupy in the business.
  • The impact their continuing absence is having on the business.
  • The difficulty and cost of continuing to deal with their absence.
  • Whether the business can avoid dismissing the employee (for example, by offering them an alternative position).
  • Their age, length of service and the circumstances surrounding the employee’s absence.
  • Any action that has previously been taken in relation to other employees in similar circumstances.
  • Claiming under the terms of any permanent health insurance (PHI) policy or ill-health retirement if the employee has been absent long-term and is unlikely to return in the foreseeable future.
  • Whether dismissal would have an adverse affect on any PHI entitlement the employee currently receives.
  • Reviewing the medical evidence to make sure it is up-to-date.

Make sure the correct procedure is followed

  • Once the business has decided to dismiss, write to the employee inviting them to a meeting, making it clear that the business is contemplating dismissing them.
  • Provide enough information about the circumstances the business is taking into account and the possible outcomes to enable the employee to respond meaningfully.
  • Hold a meeting with the employee and give them the opportunity to present their case against the dismissal.
  • Confirm the decision in writing to the employee. The letter should:
  • provide the reason for dismissal.
  • confirm their last day of employment.
  • give them the right to appeal the dismissal decision.
  • Ensure the employee’s contractual and statutory entitlements are met and that they receive the correct pay entitlement, including notice and holiday pay.
  • Hold an appeal meeting (if requested by the employee) and confirm the decision to the employee in writing.

If you would like further information, please contact Stacey Edgley on 01252 367517 or se@wheelerslaw.co.uk at our Farnborough office or Mel McCrum on 01252 367523 or mm@wheelerslaw.co.uk at our Ash Vale office.

 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.