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Can we dismiss an employee covered by a sick note?

by , 25 June 2014
Contents of the 5-part Special Course

Part 1: Avoid the Pitfalls of Fixed-Term Contracts
Part 2: What Counts as a Dependant's Emergency?
Part 3: How to Stop Grievances Escalating to Constructive Dismissal Claims
Part 4: Induction: Inspire Employees from Day 1
Part 5: Can We Dismiss an Employee Covered by a Sick Note?

 
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Staff off sick again? 
 
Got someone in the workplace who seems to take too many occasional days off sick? Need to make a decision about an employee on long-term sick leave? Whatever the situation, managing sick leave issues needs to be done with great care. However, fear of handling it wrong should not stop you from addressing the issues.

The report, The Ultimate Guide to Sick Leave, will tell you everything you need to know to correctly and sensitively deal with short-term sick leave abuse.
 

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Can we dismiss an employee covered by a sick note? 

QuestionWe have an employee who is absent due to a pulled muscle in his back. He sent in a sick note one week ago which covers an absence of two months. However, last evening a supervisor saw him playing tennis at the local park. His job is desk-based, and much less strenuous than playing tennis. Can we dismiss him when he is covered by a sick note?

Answer: If the employee has been dishonest about his medical condition then, yes, you could potentially dismiss him – this would be gross misconduct. However, it is important to investigate the situation thoroughly. Firstly, are you certain that it was him playing tennis? Secondly, sitting at a desk could aggravate some back conditions. You need to check the medical situation – he might have been advised to take some exercise.

It's recommended you write to him setting out the allegation, and inviting him to a disciplinary meeting. At the meeting, listen to his explanation, and it might be necessary to adjourn the meeting until you have sought medical advice.

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When and how to issue a disciplinary warning or dismiss on health grounds
 
When an employee is off on long-term illness, there will often come a time when it is no longer feasible to continue their employment. You may also wish to get rid of staff who you feel are abusing the system. The report,The Ultimate Guide to Sick leave tells you  the essential measures you can take to stop abuse or uncertainties occurring in the first place.

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