Short-term sickness absence is a hugely frustrating and expensive matter for employers. However, if ...
Short-term sickness absence is a hugely frustrating and expensive matter for employers. However, if not dealt with properly, the issue can be exacerbated and potentially land companies with an Employment Tribunal claim.
The main reason employees give for unauthorised absence is sickness. When someone is off work frequently, it is easy for an employer to assume the reasons given are false and consequently discipline or even dismiss them.
However, trouble may lie ahead if poor procedure is followed and the employee is genuinely ill or, worse still, has a problem that can be classed as a disability within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Practical steps to manage short-term sickness absence
A useful tool for managing short-term absence (separate to long-term and disability-related absences) is through the use of a policy, which can include the following:
Details for notification of absence, including:
- The method and timing of notification;
- Who is to notify you;
- When self-certification or a medical certificate is req-uired; and
- A warning that failure to comply may lead to disciplinary action.
Details of how you will monitor absence, including:
- Keeping records of sickness (express consent from employees is required) and attendance records; and
- Use of return to work interviews and keeping notes on the personnel file.
What you consider to be persistent short-term absence. For example, this could include how many initial periods of absence or a cumulative total over a rolling 12-month period.
Make sure the procedure in place to deal with short-term sickness absence is compliant with the statutory minimum disciplinary procedures and any internal disciplinary policy.
An entitlement to obtain a medical report in the event of persistent absence, as well as long-term absence. An emp-loyer must ensure they comply with legislative requirements for access to medical reports.
Other issues for employers to consider
If you suspect an employee may have a disability, you must ensure they are not treated less favourably as a result of their conduct and identify any reasonable adjustments you can make. If you are in doubt, you should seek a medical report before action.
You will still need to investigate the reasons why an employee is absent and great care should be taken to manage absence, because claims can still be made for unfair dismissal (where, for example, an employee argues conduct was not the real reason for dismissal) or disability discrimination.
There is no limit to the amount an employee can be awarded for a successful claim for disability discrimination and, therefore, mistakes can be very costly.
Employers should have procedures in place to monitor sickness absences
Employers should exercise caution if they suspect an employee has a disability
Profile of the month
deputy managing director retail sales and marketing, New Star Asset Management
What does your role entail?
My role is a varied one, but in the main I am responsible for managing the international business and helping to drive it forward. Although I spend a lot of my time at New Star's head office in London, I do travel overseas on a regular basis on sales and business development trips.
How long have you been in your position?
I have been at New Star since its launch in 2001 and have been in my current role for seven months.
What are your specific responsibilities?
My main responsibility is to manage the international sales team. Other aspects of my role include helping to plan and execute sales and also in the development of the international business.
What skills do you need to fulfil your role?
I need to have both sales and managerial skills. An ability to prioritise, particularly in respect of resources and budget allocation, is also essential.
What do you feel you have contributed to the company during your time there?
I have helped to build New Star's retail business from launch. I have also sold the company's unique investment philosophy to major intermediary and institutional clients.
Why did you get into financial services and is this where you anticipated you would be in terms of career?
Financial services has always been a vibrant, competitive and fun area in which to work. It has also always been a long-term growth business because people obviously need to save and provide for their retirement. I am lucky to be working for John Duffield as opposed to working for a slow-moving, bureaucratic institution.
What is your greatest ambition?
I would like to fly on one of the forthcoming sub-orbital space planes. I really hope this will be possible in my lifetime.
What is your greatest fear?
A rising golf handicap.
Who would you invite to a dinner party?
In addition to Mrs Hilliam, I would invite Condoleezza Rice, Tiger Woods, Brian Green (science writer and astrophysicist), Madonna, Bill Gates and Neil Armstrong.
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