A long-term sickness issue dragged on for over 12 months…. but still needed action

The Client

Our client is a small manufacturing business with 7 employees.

The Problem

Our client encountered what has become an increasingly big problem for many small businesses.  How to deal with a long-term sickness issue.  Our client contacted JS HR Support to ask:

  • Does it really matter if an employee is still off sick after 12 months?
  • Is any action required as, surely, they aren’t coming back?

Background

The employee had first gone off sick as a reaction to the threat of formal disciplinary action being taken against them.  As many small businesses have encountered, ‘fit note’ followed ‘fit note’ and it soon became the clear that the employee was highly unlikely to return to work.

Our client wanted to know if they could dismiss the employee as they were no longer receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or should they simply wait and do nothing?

During the employee’s absence the client had to turn down work as the business didn’t have the manpower to fulfil orders.  They desperately needed to employ another machinist but didn’t know if they could replace the employee if they were off sick.

The Solution

Our advice to the client was:

  • the fact that the employee is no longer receiving SSP doesn’t mean they are no longer employed; therefore, they will continue to have contractual rights which may include statutory holiday pay
  • you can dismiss someone that is no longer capable of doing their job due to sickness incapacity but there is a process to follow.

JS HR Support assisted the client through a detailed sickness capability process, designed to comply with the law and offer the best protection against any subsequent claims that may arise. This involved compliant letters, communication with both the employee and their doctor/consultant and meetings with the employee to discuss the outcome of the medical advice before any decision to dismiss was reached.

The Outcome

The conclusion was mutually satisfactory to both the employer and the employee, limiting the costs to the employer and enabling both sides to have a clean break.  The business was able to employ another machinist and was able to take on additional work.

Our client subscribes to our monthly Premier HR support package which provides them with telephone and email support from a dedicated named adviser, HR and Employment Law updates and access to an employee pack via our online members only on-line portal.

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