Long Term Sickness Absence


If a dismissal is inevitable then it is important to follow the correct procedure when dealing with the actual dismissal and use the minimum 3-stage process.

Author: Dennis Chapman
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 12 years old.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

Sickness absence, whether too frequent short or long term can present a lot of difficulties for employers, particularly small businesses. 

The absence of an employee places a higher proportion of strain on other employees when there are not so many to distribute the extra work around. 

With long term sickness there is potential for the problems to amount to a disability as defined by the Disability Discrimination act.  Any action taken against such a person could be challenged as discriminatory giving the employee a potential case at an Employment Tribunal.  It is important for fairness that with a long term sickness situation evidence is sought from a medical professional, whether the person treating the employee or otherwise, as to the likely outcome in terms of recovery time and whether they consider the person is considered disabled, by definition.  It is necessary to gain written permission from the employee to do this and give them the opportunity to see the report before the employer.  We have standard template letters for clients for this purpose.   If the person is disabled then consideration has to be given to making reasonable adjustments to get back to work.  It is sensible to consult with the employee.  Likewise it is not unreasonable to request visits to the employee to assess the prospect for return to work and discuss any assistance that can be given.  Such assistance may include a change of job structure or role.

In the case of Lynock v Cereal Packaging Ltd 1988 a number of aspects which an employer should take account of

  • consultation
  • appropriate warnings of risk to job is there is not a return to work
  • personal assessment of the situation
  • nature of the illness
  • likelihood of recurrence or other illness
  • length of absence(s)
  • impact on the rest of the workforce
  • the need to have the work done

Finally, if a dismissal is inevitable then it is important to follow the correct procedure when dealing with the actual dismissal and use the minimum 3-stage process.  See the separate article in this bulletin.

Dennis Chapman

In remembrance of Dennis Chapman 1951 -2015

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

You can contact us via the form or you can call us on 01480 455500.