Sickness Absence

Dealing appropriately with sickness absence, whether short or long term, is vital to minimise the risk of claims for unfair dismissal and/or disability discrimination. Failure to do so may result in a claim to an Employment Tribunal resulting in:

  • Financial penalty – the potential award for disability discrimination is unlimited
  • Adverse publicity
  • Unnecessary time wasted

Develop Absence Procedures for short and long term sickness

  • Provide to employees, update and re-circulate as required

Manage Absence Proactively

  • Keep records of absence
  • Use triggers for action
  • Always use return-to-work interviews
  • Consider implementing a sickness absence management policy

Understand The Cause

  • Provide in contracts for Medical Reports to be obtained where required
  • Comply with the provisions of the Access to Medical Reports Act if appropriate  
  • Always address whether there is a disability: consider reasonable adjustments, including alternative roles; and avoid less favourable treatment on the ground of disability

During Absence

  • Stay in touch as appropriate
  • Observe the terms of the contract and remember that holiday will continue to accrue during sickness absence


  • Once all other avenues have been explored, consider dismissal; either for capability (long-term sickness) or for conduct (persistent short-term absence).
  • Follow full procedures including obtaining medical reports

Always take legal advice!

These comments are provided for guidance only. Each situation has to be examined on its own merits and circumstances and you should not, therefore, rely upon the above without taking specific legal advice in relation to any particular matter.

Specialist advice can be obtained from 
Alan Matthew in our Dundee Office (tel: 01382 200 000) or
from Emma Allan in our Perth Office (tel: 01738 637 311)

February 2013

If you would like to speak to us about any services or have and questions please contact us by filling out the form. 

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Perth Office

Legal Office: 01738 637311
Estate Agency Office: 01738 630222

Dundee Office

Legal Office: 01382 200000
Estate Agency Office: 01382 200301

Crieff Office

Legal Office: 01764 655151
Estate Agency Office: 01764 670077