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Long term sickness absence- what should an employer consider before dismissal

31st October 2015
The subject of problems caused by long term sickness absences is perhaps the most common subject raised by our business clients. Planning for work to be covered and the extra complications in delivering a reliable and quality service to customers and clients can be major problems when an employee spends time on long term sickness absence.$0For many years the Employment Tribunals have given guidance on the issues that employers must consider before dismissing an employee that has been on long term sickness absence fairly.$0$0Obviously the matter of medical evidence should be considered, and the employer must keep up to date with the medical diagnosis and prognosis. In addition the employer should keep in touch with the employee and keep them involved in dialogue about their condition.$0$0However, employers usually need to know when it comes to the time that "enough is enough" and they should not be expected to wait any longer for the employee to be able to return.$0$0In the case of Monmouthshire County Council v Harris the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT). The case involved an employee that was disabled. The employee had been allowed to work some time from home, but a new manager did not allow that the continue, and following a further period of absence the employee was dismissed. The Employment Tribunal concluded that the dismissal was unfair and the employer had committed disability discrimination. The EAT upheld the appeal against that decision. On the matter of unfair dismissal the EAT criticised the Employment Tribunal for not considering the question of whether or not the employer could be expected to wait any longer. On the disability discrimination point the EAT said that the issue of proportionality should have been considered. $0$0The case illustrates that employers do not have to wait forever, and a time will come when "enough is enough". They should still obtain medical evidence and keep the employee consulted, but eventually they will reach a time when they are not obliged to wait any longer before dismissing. At Hallett Employment Law Services Ltd we can provide advice on the right procedures to adopt in dealing with long term absence.           $0
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