How to Deal With Long Term Sickness Absence

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A long term absence is usually associated with a period of sickness from four months onwards and can take many different forms. Absences of this length can have a major impact on the employer’s ability to continue delivering an effective service to their clients. Therefore, managing the employee and their injury or illness is crucial in ensuring there is minimum disruption to this service. This can be achieved by meeting the employee to discuss their absence and what steps are being taken to manage their symptoms. By understanding these steps an employer can then assist the employee in formulating a plan that has two main purposes. Firstly, this plan can provide appropriate support to the employee, ensuring their injury or illness is not negatively affected by their work. This can be done by making alterations to the job role, ie a temporary reduction in working hours or perhaps a temporary removal of certain duties to ensure the condition is not aggravated. Secondly, this plan ensures the business is still able to continue operating with minimum disruption. With the possibility of other staff being able to help, it may be possible to reallocate other duties to absorb the impact of the absence too. Unfortunately it may not always be possible to create adequate action plans to support certain absences and so it relies very much on the business to justify its decision to implement a plan. The obligation on the part of the employer is to be reasonable in its attempt to provide appropriate support to an employee. As an absolute last resort, if the employer is unable to provide appropriate support to the employee then it can also be justified in terminating the employment of the employee. This is why an employer must make every effort to create an appropriate action plan, designed to support the employee’s absence and the needs of the business.

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