Dealing with sickness absence is a perennial problem for employers and employees alike, with unfair dismissal and discrimination rearing its head at every turn. Our checklist will put employers and employees on the right track for a successful outcome.


Putting policies and procedures in place will help employers by setting standards of attendance and consistent treatment. They should be the starting point for sick employees in terms of what they can expect from their employer.


Businesses should train managers on their policies and potential legal issues.

Paper trail

It is essential for employers and employees alike to keep an accurate record of all meetings and correspondence. For employers, file notes should be kept to make a record of all considerations, including those recommended here.


Companies need an accurate procure of patterns of absence, reasons, and hot spots.


Pregnancy and disability related absences should usually be discounted, subject in the case of disability to all reasonable adjustments being made and responses being proportionate and legitimate.

Stay in touch

Employers should take reasonable steps to stay in touch with employees absent on sick leave.


Up to date medical evidence should be obtained and freely given before any significant steps are taken. The key factors for investigation will be the nature, extent, likely duration of illnesses, and presence of any disabilities.

Short term/intermittent absences

Explore the possibility of any underlying causes. If appropriate follow a capability or disciplinary procedure, providing warnings and clear yardsticks for improvement.


This is an essential ingredient of any fair dismissal, and should be an expectation in relation to all items on this checklist affecting the employee. This means employers keeping an open mind.


Essential considerations:

  • adjustments to workplace and duties to enable a return to work. Make sure suggestions are reasonable. Possible adjustments include: staged return, adjusted hours, relocation of work station, and reallocation of duties.
  • impact of the absence on the business.
  • alternative employment.
  • surrounding circumstances, for instance age, length of service, previous absence record
  • insurance policies in place.

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Updates: For employers: Sickness problems | For employees: Sickness |
Tagged with: Sickness |

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