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Dismissal Due to Absenteeism

Sickness Absence

An employee may be incapable of performing their job adequately through injury or ill-health, which may lead to repeated short term absences or long-term absence.

Frequent Short-term Sickness

Frequent short-term sickness absences are difficult to manage. If an employee has a high level of short-term sickness absence, the employer will have to understand possible causes of absence, hold return to work interviews and monitor absence levels. If sickness absence levels are high, employees should be warned informally that attendance needs to improve before formal action is taken.

Long-Term Sickness

Long-term sickness absence is usually defined as an absence of more than four weeks’ duration. It is possible for an employer to dismiss an employee who is long term sick but it is important to determine whether or not the employee is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 and the employer must proceed with great care. Before seeking to dismiss an employee who is long term sick, an employer must consider if the employee can return to work, e.g. by working flexibly. The employer should also consult extensively with the employee about when they could return to work and when/if their health will improve.

Sick Pay

Employers can offer their own contractual or occupational sick pay scheme and this must be detailed in the statement of terms and conditions of employment. Statutory sick pay (SSP) is the minimum amount that an employer can pay employees during their sickness.

Suspension on Health and Safety Grounds

If an employee is suspended on health and safety grounds, he or she will usually be entitled to be paid during that time. Before suspending an employee, the employer should consider the potential impact on the employee if they continue working in their role and whether adjustments would help them continue. If suspension is on maternity grounds, the woman has the right to be offered alternative work if it is available, failing which she must be paid her normal wage during her absence.

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