Managing sickness absence: fatal mistakes small businesses make

Posted by Heather Bailey

HR and employment law consultant at Colemans-ctts

  • T: 0161 876 2521
Wed 29th, Apr

 Many small businesses are often hit particularly hard by staff absence, with some larger SME’s having to shell out tens of thousands per year as a result. Managing sickness can be tricky, particularly where an employee has a medical condition or disability. In this blog, Heather Bailey describes fatal mistakes employers make when it comes to managing sickness in the workplace and what they can do to prevent these mistakes from happening. 

I recently advised on a case which saw Miss K, the employee in this case, who won her case at an employment tribunal.  Ms K has fibromyalgia, a painful condition which causes fatigue and loss of concentration.  She was employed as part-time receptionist by a medium sized GP practice who were aware of her condition. Following a change of medication she experienced a flare up of symptoms which affected her performance at work.

This situation is common with employees who develop or have a long term medical condition. Unfortunately the employer made several fatal mistakes in managing her case that could have been easily avoided.

 

Fatal Mistake #1 They told her to get a sick note 

The employee had asked to reduce her hours on one day to help manage her symptoms of fatigue, this was ignored and she was told to be signed off sick. The employee duly did what she was told only to be later unfairly dismissed for long term sickness. Employers often labour under the misunderstanding that if an employee is experiencing symptoms they need to be off sick, when in fact this is a grey area. If an employee does have a fitnote which recommends adjustments an employer should consider whether these can be put in place, it is only if they are impractical the employee can be sent home sick otherwise the employer can find themselves paying for lost earnings.

 

Fatal Mistake #2 They did not listen to medical advice

The employer in this case did seek an occupational health report, which recommended the small reduction in hours as suggested by the client. The report also suggested that a change in medication would improve her symptoms and suggested a follow up report be obtained. The employer could not show that it had considered any of the recommendations and did not seek a follow up report. Whilst sickness can be a burden on a small employer, obtaining a follow up report a few weeks later would have provided them with the green light to either dismiss the employee fairly or help her return to work.

 

Fatal Mistake #3 They could not show that the required adjustment was unreasonable

 An employer should consider making reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. What is reasonable does depend on the size and resources available to the employer and may take a little creative thinking. Ms K was requesting an earlier finish one of the three days she worked. Being able to leave 2 hours earlier would have given her the rest she needed. Ms K was not the only receptionist and there were other members of staff who could provide cover so therefore the employer came unstuck when it refused to even trial these adjustments.

 

Fatal Mistake #4 They failed to manage the performance and medical issues separately

When Ms K appealed her case, the employer mentioned that the adjustments would not improve her performance which was substandard. If an employee is not performing to the required standard, even with reasonable adjustments, they can be fairly dismissed provided that the correct process is followed. In this case, the employer would have been expected to implement and monitor the adjustments and then issue a series of warnings and a performance improvement plan. However, in Miss K’s case her employer tried to sidestep that process and it cost them dearly.

 

The Final Word

Having an employee off sick can cause a significant dent in the profits of a small business and any savvy business owner will always keep their eye on the big picture. In this case, carefully monitoring the adjustments and an investment of a further medical report would have saved the employer over £30,000 in compensation, lost resources and recruitment.

 

Heather Bailey will be joining us this Friday to host 60 Really Useful Minutes where she will show you how to help safeguard your business from persistent absenteeism.

Read More
Leave a comment

Comments...

Posted by great

Good post jasa buat website. I learn something new harga and challenging on jasa website blogs I stumbleupon every day of jasa.It will always be exciting to read website content from other pembuatan writers and use a jasa pembuatan web and harga jasa pembuatan website little something from their jasa pembuatan website
Thank you for providing jasawebb.com information from your jasa pembuatan website profesional website. On of the good jasa website perusahaan website in search results https://jasawebb.com . You’ve written nice jual post , I am gonna bookmark this obat page , thanks for info. I actually appreciate your own aborsi position and I will be sure to come back here.his is a really good post. Must admit that you are among the best bloggers I have read. Thanks for posting this informative article of obat aborsi . You may havce a lot of jual obat aborsi and obat aborsi, as well jual obat aborsi surabaya.
. I would once again praise menggugurkan to god about this amazing post kandungan. Thank you so much for the detailed information cara. I love to read tips from cara menggugurkan kandungan who are really successful with what they do. It inspires me of obat an I learn a lot penggugur witch helps me to grow my business obat penggugur kandungan faster. I was reading the provided article with a great interest! This post is useful and informative cara menggugurkan kandungan.Thanks for sharing obat telat datang bulan and also obat telat bulan. You’ve written nice post, I am gonna bookmark this page, thanks for obat telat datang bulan info. I actually appreciate your own position and I will be sure to come back here.his is a really good post. Well, Thanks a lot of jual for such a wonderful post of obat aborsi, the stuff posted were really obat interesting and useful jual obat aborsi. The quality of aborsi the content was good and clear. I would once again praise to god about this amazing post mesin coding. Thank you so much for the detailed information. I love to read tips from people who are really successful with what they do inkjet printer industri. It inspires me an I learn a lot witch helps me to grow my business faster. I want to thank you for https://www.gooddoctorcompany.com interesting and helpful i
12>>>

Post a comment

 
   
 

How Can You Best Deal With Customer Disputes?

Thu 23rd, Feb

The Federation of Small Businesses published a report (Tied Up 2016) recently exploring the cost of disputes to UK small businesses.

Street Wisdom is Coming to Liverpool!

Mon 20th, Feb

TimScottHR is bringing Street Wisdom to Liverpool City Centre.

How Trump's triumph could inspire businesses across the UK

Tue 24th, Jan

Why you can learn from Trump’s election campaign victory

Removing overwhelm from Marketing – Planning and Structure

Mon 24th, Oct

Transform your marketing for 2017

How To Maximise Your Marketing From Entering Business Awards

Tue 18th, Oct

With our Annual Dinner Awards 2016 approaching, we look at some of the key reasons you should nominate your business for awards