Managing sickness absence
Sickness absence costs employers billions of pounds every year. It is important that as an employer, you tackle sickness absence head-on and that you do so properly.
Many forms of sickness absence are temporary and short term such as 'flu or sickness bugs. However, some employees' sickness is more signficant and maybe a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Failure to consider an employer's obligations under the Equality Act 2010 (such as an employer's obligation not to treat someone less favourably because of a disability, make adjustments to their work place or role and not to put in place policies that indirectly disciminate against disabled employees) can have serious financial implications for businesses. Disability discrimination (along with all other forms of discrimination) carries a potentially unlimited level of compensation.
Whether you need help in managing sickness absence to reduce sickness levels or you are faced with a complex, often long term sickness absence scenario, we can help you. We have significant experience of dealing with complex sickness absence including defending employers at Tribunal if Employment Tribunals claims are brought by employees.
A member of staff has complained
If a staff member has put a complaint in against your business or somebody in it, you should commence your grievance process as soon as possible. In order to avoid the complaint escalating, it is important that the grievance process is followed fully and is fair to both you and your staff.
If you don't follow a proper grievance process, an Employment Tribunal could increase compensation against your business if the staff member who brought the complaint was succcessful in an Employment Tribunal claim.
A member of staff is not performing
Managing poor performance is essential for the long term welfare of your business.
With this in mind, if a staff member is not performing, it is important to address the situation quickly, so the behaviour is not seen to be condoned by management.
It is imperative to find out what is causing the employee to underperform so you can confront the issue and redirect their behaviour to improve performance.
Our employment team can discuss your options with you and talk through the best ways to manage staff performance in your business
A member of staff has misbehaved
Misbehaviour in the workplace should not be tolerated. It is important for your business to take quick and appropriate action to stop that misbehaviour occurring again but also to make it clear to other staff that misbehaviour will not be tolerated.
The key to tackling misbehaviour is the implementation of a proper disciplinary process followed by the proper implementation of that process as soon as possible. If the misbehaviour amounts to gross misconduct, it is paramount that a proper procedure is followed. If a proper disciplinary procedure is not followed, there is a real risk that you are unable to defend unfair dismissal proceedings brought against your business.
A member of staff has health issues
Putting in place robust policies that explain what will happen if a member of staff is off work sick (both for short-term and long-term absence) can help you manage absence and reduce the impact on your business. We can help you put in place tailored absence policies.
Many absences will be a one-off, however, some absences will be more serious. They may be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. If so, you will need to consider your additional responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. This could include not treating your sick staff less favourably because of their disability or making adjustments to their role or workplace.
Dealing with disability discrimination is complicated. The penalties for falling foul of the Equality Act are significant, with potentially unlimited compensation. Early advice is essential to stop matters escalating.
A member of staff wants to change their working arrangements
All employees have a statutory right to ask their employer for a change to their contractual terms and conditions of employment provided they have worked for more than 26 weeks continuously at the date the application is made. An employee can only make one statutory request in any 12 month period. This is often known as a flexible working request.
We can support you in writing a policy which clearly explains the procedure staff should take when requesting flexible working. This policy would explain how they make the application, who it should be made to and what should be included. Importantly, this policy should set out clearly what you, as their employer, need to do once you have received that request.
If you don't handle the flexible working request properly, your employee can seek compensation at an Employment Tribunal. You may also be opening yourself up to a claim of sex discrimination if you don't have a good and justifiable business reason for rejecting any flexible working request, for example, from a working mother.
We can advise you on the full impact of these types of requests, how to handle them in everyone's best interests and how to minimise the risk to your business of claim against you.