Short term sickness absence

Infrequent short term sickness absence is not usually a problem that leads to disciplinary consequences.

 

However employers may record sickness absence and have indicators for the number of short term absences within a period of time that trigger further investigation or action by the employer e.g. 8 days of intermitent absence over a period of a year.

 

Alternatively employers may not operate a formal policy but instigate some sort of investigation of disciplinary proceedings when they think the absence is too high.

 

Where this approach is taken the employer should operate a fair process.  This would require that the employee is given written notification of any disciplinary hearing that is arranged including the matters the employer wishes to discuss and any evidence that the employer will rely on during the meeting.

 

At the meeting the employee should have the opportunity to put any points they wish in order to challenge the employer or pesuade them on the outcome of the process.

 

Where the employer thinks that action is necessary the likely first step will be a warning which should include clear limits for future absence.

 

A right of appeal should be given against the decision that is reached.

 

Disability and short term absence

It is possible that the short term absences are caused by an underlying medical condition perhaps diabetes or depression.  Where this is the case the employee should make the employer aware of the underlying health issue as it may explain why short term absences are necessary.

 

Additionally the underlying condition may be a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 and give the employee more protection and rights, particularly for reasonable adjustments to be made to work practices and procedures, including disciplinary action.  these protections will only exist if the employer knows about the disability.

 

Disability has a technical definition under the Equaity Act 2010 and you must check that you meet it before relying on it.  See

ACAS Managing Attendance
This booklet is written by ACAS and describes best practice for employers in managing employee absence.
ACAS managing attendance.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.0 MB

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