This is a question that is often on the minds of both employers and employees. It speaks, in some fundamental ways, to the heart of the relationship between businesses and workers. For the record, the answer is “Yes, an employee can be made redundant while on sick leave.” However, employers who feel justified in terminating an employee on sick leave need to tread carefully, lest they open themselves up to claims of unfair dismissal.
Making an Employee on Sick Leave Redundant: Important Considerations
When it comes to making employees on sick leave redundant employers need to take a detail-orientated approach that is both fair and firm. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind:
- The employee in question must be made aware of the situation prior to actually being let go. If more than one staff member is slated for redundancy all affected parties should be notified at the same time in the same way.
- If you have scheduled a meeting or meetings with the affected employee to discuss the situation but they claim to be too ill to attend, consider conducting the meeting via Zoom, or visiting them in their home.
- In cases where an employee may be sidelined by mental health issues, you need to be sensitive to the situation and find ways to enable them to participate in the discussion about their situation. In some cases, you may need to consider delaying the process. Or if a delay is not feasible you will need to explain clearly why that is.
- If terminating an employee due to long-term or frequent sickness absence you will need to be certain your actions are in accordance with your company’s absence policy. Again, you will need to tread carefully and ensure your reasoning for letting them go is firmly anchored in established policy and processes.
The bottom line is that you cannot terminate someone on sick leave without giving them appropriate prior notice, consultation and following established company policy and procedures. If the termination is perceived to be unfair you could open yourself up to a lengthy and expensive litigation process that damages your company’s reputation.