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Sick pay: Don’t be ill-advised

 How you deal with this depends on whether or not you operate a Permanent Health Insurance (income replacement during incapacity) scheme.

If you do, the employee might lose benefits under the scheme if she is dismissed.

So, it might make sense to keep her on and leave it to the insurers to take the necessary steps to facilitate her return to work. If your employee is able to come back into the office but refuses to do so, stop paying her.

You don’t have to wait too long before starting the procedure. It’s really up to you how long you wait and depends, of course, on how urgently you need to have someone doing the job on a reliable basis. In your case, I really see no reason why you should wait any longer.

To resolve the situation, it may help if you follow this three-step procedure. First, write to your employee. You need to explain why you want to obtain a medical report and that you need their consent to do so. When you have her consent, write to her GP and/or her consultant. Once you have the medical report, you’ll need to write to your employee with a copy and invite her to attend a meeting. At this meeting, discuss the medical report, her prognosis and her likely return to work.

If, however, she’s unable to return to her old job or any new job that might be available within a reasonable time frame, you can dismiss (on notice) but you must give her the right to an appeal.

These situations are not pleasant but, as an employer, you have to deal with them and you have to deal with them appropriately. Don’t ignore them. Act promptly and consistently in each case. Most importantly, you must persevere. If you follow a proper procedure, such as the three steps documented above, and take account of any disability issues, it’ll be hard for an employee to bring or succeed in a claim against you.

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