Liam is a long standing employee who has had a variety of roles, his most recent working in Customer services. Unfortunately Liam feels anxious when dealing with difficult customers and has been absent from work since January. His initial sick note stated work related stress however his more recent note states depression.

During his absence his employer has tried to keep in touch however they have only managed one long-term sickness absence meeting. This meeting was a success and Liam agreed to return to work with a phased return to work program and a support plan, in addition to a stress risk assessment.

Liam returned on May 13th however he was unable to sustain his return and has been absent since 29th June, with a sick note for three months due to depression and anxiety.

So what can you do in this situation?

It is best practice to obtain medical advice to ascertain any reasonable adjustments which the employer can consider in way of helping support Liam back to work. Please be mindful that any adjustments need to be reasonable and if any suggestions made are not viable for the employer they need to ensure that they advise the employee of this and the reasons why this is not achievable.

If the employer is unable to implement the suggested reasonable adjustments or the Occupational Health report states that Liam is unfit to return to work within a reasonable period of time, then you can consider moving in to the medical capability process.

The purpose of Medical capability is to consider the employees sickness absence and make a decision about their employment situation. The employees levels of sickness absence, which may be intermittent absence or a continuous period of long term sickness absence, will be considered; the impact this has had on the service and work colleagues, the support, actions or adjustments which have been taken so far; whether redeployment or early retirement has been discussed where appropriate; and a decision will then be made about your employment situation.

A potential outcome of this meeting is that the employee’s employment will be ended with notice. If the decision is taken to end the employee’s employment, they do have a right of appeal

We appreciate that this can be a difficult process for both and employer however you need to ensure that you are treating all staff fairly and consistently and in line within medical advice, in addition taking in to consideration the needs of the organization.

If you need any help with managing absences or moving in to medical capability please get in touch. SAM can help manage absences and identify trends including punctuality issues, helping to try and resolve issues quickly.

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