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Employment Law for Businesses

Dealing with Employee Absence

Susie Al-Qassab
Susie Al‑Qassab
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Natalie Wellock
Ellen Clabburn
Ellen Clabburn

Sickness absence can be very disruptive to employers both in terms of lost time and money. But, you’ll need to tread carefully when managing employee absence to avoid the risk of any costly legal claims.

When an employee goes on sick leave, generally their employment contract continues as normal. Employees are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) and may also be entitled to enhanced contractual sick pay depending on their contractual terms.

It is important that any such terms are carefully drafted, to avoid any confusion regarding pay. 

At HJA we understand that you’ll need to deal with sickness absence carefully and treat each case on a case by case basis. Contact our expert solicitors to see how we can help and support your business today.

Advice from leading employment solicitors

Contact our team

If you are unsure on what your policy should be regarding sickness absence, contact us now and we can prepare policies and procedures tailored to your business.

Expert representation

You will be allocated the most appropriate lawyer who will take the time to understand the needs of your business and assist you and minimise the risk of complaints arising.


We will keep you updated and informed throughout and at conclusion, ensure that you are satisfied with the service and outcome. We can take care of your legal concerns to allow you to focus on the success of your business.


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What outcomes can I expect?

We can provide you with a fully coherent sickness policy so that your employees are clear on what your policy is. We can also help you provide training to your managers and senior employees so that they understand your policy on sickness absence and the implementation of it.

If you have employees on sick leave we can help you to manage this and obtain any necessary medical evidence. We can guide you through following a fair process ahead of making any decisions to protect your business and minimise the risk of any unfair dismissal or discrimination claims being brought against you.

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Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors?

At Hodge Jones & Allen, we believe that pre-emptive action is often the best approach. We can draft sickness policies which deter malingering, whilst helping staff who may need support at a difficult time. We can also draft clauses into employment contracts to ensure medical assessments can be carried out if required. Should a medical report be needed, there are specific legal requirements to be followed in order to obtain such a report.

If you are considering dismissing an employee who is absent from work on sickness grounds, we can advise you how to carry out the process fairly and to minimise the potential for any complaints and legal claims. When an employee is suffering from a condition which is considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010, you should be mindful of your obligation to make reasonable adjustments, this can include making adjustments which will assist the employee in returning to work.

Dealing with sickness absence of whatever kind can be a sensitive matter, with many potential pitfalls. Our skilled solicitors use their in-depth knowledge of employment legislation and best practice to advise employers on how to deal with absences effectively, without falling foul of the law.


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Featured case

Successfully negotiated mutual termination for client

Following the long-term absence of an employee, the business sought to remove the employee on the grounds that he was no longer capable of doing his role. The client sought advice after it had received a lengthy grievance from the employee alleging disability discrimination and potential unfair dismissal. We assisted our client in investigating the grievance, ensuring the business would be able to justify its position. Obtained medical evidence, which was helpful to our client and negotiated a mutual termination which was cost effective and favourable to our client.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I legally dismiss an employee who is on sickness leave?

It is possible to legally dismiss an employee if they cannot fulfil the duties of their job because they are not well enough to do so. A fair dismissal process will need to be followed however to protect your business from a potential unfair dismissal claim.

What are the potential consequences if sickness absence isn’t managed properly?

If your business does not manage sickness absence properly then you could be at risk of your employees bringing claims against your business, including for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, and disability discrimination. All of which can have significant financial consequences for your business.

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