Why it’s good to talk to staff on sick leave

In this latest instalment of our series, uncovering some of the common myths and misconceptions in employment law and HR, we’re looking at whether you can keep in touch with an employee who has a sick note.

We often speak to managers and supervisors who believe that, once an employee has been signed off, they must be left well alone – for fear of being accused of harassing them while they’re poorly.

But, you are allowed to stay in touch with staff who are off sick.

Keep talking

You can ask staff to stay in contact with you whilst they are off work. Depending on why they are off, and the length of their sick note, you can agree that they call you at regular intervals – perhaps once a week.

You can also ask them to get in touch with you a couple of days before their sick note expires to let you know whether they’re coming back to work, or whether they’re going to go back to the doctor.

You can call them to see how they are, or to ask about something they were working on. For example, if you’ve picked up their workload, and are struggling to find some information.

Tread carefully if the employee is off with stress, as they may find the contact more difficult.

Get together

If they’re off work for a long time, you can invite them in for a welfare meeting or arrange to go and see them.

This gives you some time to talk about how they are, whether they might be able to come back to work, and whether there is anything that you could be doing to help them.

Where it appears as though the employee may not be well enough to return to work in the near future, you may need to consider a dismissal.

The fact that the employee is under a sick note, or still receiving sick pay does not necessarily prevent you from dismissing them.

Fair procedure

However, you must follow a fair procedure, which will almost always include obtaining a medical report from the employee’s doctor, or an occupational health specialist. to help you decide whether the employee can come back to work.

Together, you must also consider whether there is anything that you could or should be doing to help them in their return.

If you’re dealing with a staff on long term sickness, and would like some guidance on maintaining contact with them, or would benefit from some support in obtaining a medical report or conducting a capability dismissal process, then please get in touch with us at New Dawn Resources.