Often employees think that by getting themselves signed off sick they can avoid disciplinary proceedings. As HR professionals, we know that this is not necessarily the case.
It’s important to remember that even though someone is signed off work, it doesn’t automatically mean that they also won’t be able to attend a meeting or hearing.
It’s a tricky state of affairs, so here’s our top tips on how to approach a situation like this to achieve the best outcome for the employee and the organisation:
Ask the Employee
Start by asking them to attend the hearing and emphasising that the matter isn’t going to go away.
This is a great opportunity to explain the value and importance of them attending in order to give their version of events.
Take a View on How Long the Absence Will Be
If the absence is going to be short term, it may be helpful to postpone the meeting until the employee is back at work.
If you don’t know how long its going to be, or you know that the absence is likely to be long term, contact your Occupational Health (OH) team. They will assist you in evaluating whether the employee is fit enough to attend the hearing.
If the OH report does deem the employee unfit to attend, don’t worry -there are a few more avenues we can try. Offer the employee the opportunity to send someone to speak on their behalf or submit written representations for the hearing.
Be Wary of Continuing Without Them
Whilst employers aren’t expected to delay hearings indefinitely, we need to be wary of proceeding in the employee’s absence without a good reason for doing so.
Giving the employee the chance to come and explain their side of the case is a fundamental right and one which you should make every effort to observe. So, before you go for it, ensure that you have exhausted all possible ways in which they can attend.
If you are left with no choice but to go ahead without them, warn the employee that the hearing can proceed in their absence.
This blog is part of a series focussed on managing ill health. Check out the other frequently asked questions and the answers from our lawyers here.
The content provided in this blog is for illustration purposes only and does not of itself constitute legal advice. It is your responsibility to ensure that these blogs are used in the correct context. Where tailored legal advice or further guidance is required it should be sought from a member of the Vista team.