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Use these tips to deal with incapacity and long-term illness leave the fair way

by , 29 April 2014
Incapacity can be a very sensitive issue in your business. When an employee can't work because of serious illness or injury, you may feel sorry for them. But sadly, feeling sorry for them doesn't enable you to continue paying them. Here are some things to remember when dealing with an incapacitated employee.

Here's how to say 'you're fired!' the legal way!
There are only three reasons you can fire an employee that the CCMA will consider 'fair' but there are hundreds of reasons you can fire an employee that's automatically 'unfair'!
Click here and I'll show you how you can dismiss fairly and legally! 

How to deal with incapacity and long term illnesses

Incapacity is a very sensitive issue and you may need to take action. But before you do so, you need to know the difference between permanent incapacity and temporary incapacity.
Temporary incapacity is when an employee has an operation and is on bed rest for two months. This counts as sick leave and the employee will get their normal sick leave entitlements. 
You can't take dismissal action against an employee who's temporarily incapacitated. However, you can make the extra sick leave outside of their normal entitlement unpaid leave.
Permanent incapacity, on the other hand, is when an employee is seriously injured or ill and they can't work anymore.
Now if your business can support the employee, you're entitled to do so. But most companies can't afford this. And that's when it becomes important to take steps towards dismissal.
There are some steps you need to follow to do this with tact and sensitivity...
Bulletproof your dismissals!
80% of disputes referred to the CCMA relate to unfair dismissals

How to being the fair dismissal process for incapacity

There's no set time period you must wait before you start this process. There are steps you need to take though. The Practical Guide to Human Resources for Managers outlines them: 
1. Tell the employee about the discussion 
2. Have the actual discussion 
3. Investigate and 
4. Provide an outcome based on what the discussion covered. 
If the outcome of this discussion is that a dismissal is necessary, follow this guideline from the Code of Good Practice. You need to consider:
Can the employee do the work; and
If the employee can't do the work.
           1. What work is the employee able to do?
           2. How can you adapt the working conditions or duties to accommodate the employee
           3. Is there any other work they could do?
If you follow these steps the incapcity dismissal will be fair.

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