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Dealing with long term sickness, part 1

A domestic staff member – housekeeper, carer, nanny, etc. – can very quickly become someone who is heavily relied upon (nobody really being indispensable, although we often use that term).

When they are off sick, we generally manage or muddle through in the anticipation that they will not be away from work for too long a period.

But what happens when that sickness absence becomes extended?  What can you do and what are your options?

It depends upon a whole variety of circumstances and the relationship you and perhaps your family have with the person in question.  In many instances, you will cut them as much slack as possible and hope that the issue will be resolved.

But there are occasions when the sickness absence becomes a long term sick issue.  But do we know when that is?  What our rights are?  And do we resolve the unsatisfactory situation?

Let’s look at some of the rules and some of the guidance.

Employees who are off work sick for more than four weeks may be considered long-term sick.

As a last resort, employers can dismiss an employee who is long-term sick, but, before they can do this, there are procedures which have to be worked through.

Firstly, you, as the employer must consider if an employee can return to work – e.g. working flexibly or part-time, doing different or less stressful work (with training if necessary).

Secondly, you must consult with the employee about when they could return to work and if their health will improve.

Remember, however, that the employee can take their case to an employment tribunal if they think they’ve been unfairly dismissed.

This article continues in Dealing with long term sickness, part 2.

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