Sick leave: The rules

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

AJ asked what she should do about a staff mem­ber who is off sick for an ex­tended time in a po­si­tion that needs fill­ing.

Deal­ing with the is­sue of staff off work with long-term sick­ness can be dif­fi­cult and stress­ful for ev­ery­one in­volved.

You do not have to hold a po­si­tion open in­def­i­nitely, but it pays to get the process right.

Here are the steps to fol­low af­ter a staff mem­ber has ex­hausted their sick leave en­ti­tle­ment and any an­nual leave ow­ing:

En­sure you fol­low any pro­cesses set out in em­ploy­ment agree­ments or your of­fice man­ual if they spec­ify more gen­er­ous pro­vi­sions. Get ad­vice if you are un­sure what to do.

Af­ter an em­ployee has been off sick for three con­sec­u­tive days (not nec­es­sar­ily work­ing days) you can re­quire them to pro­duce a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate at their cost.

You can re­quire this ear­lier if you agree to meet their rea­son­able costs of ob­tain­ing proof, and let them know they need to ob­tain it as soon as pos­si­ble.

The cer­tifi­cate should state when they are ex­pected to be able to re­turn to work (fully or par­tially). If the re­turn to work is par­tial, then the cer­tifi­cate should state what types of du­ties they should be fit to per­form.

You need to con­sider whether you can cover the pe­riod of ex­pected ill­ness with cur­rent staff or a temp, and the eco­nom­ics of do­ing so.

Per­haps you may be able to get by with a temp, but the costs may be pro­hib­i­tive or the temp may not be able to per­form all tasks.

Also con­sider the pres­sure that may be put on the other staff hav­ing to pick up ex­tra tasks.

Con­sider any steps you can take to aid the em­ployee’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, such as pro­vid­ing part-time work or light du­ties or even a dif­fer­ent role.

If you de­cide you need to put a time limit on a re­turn to work, you need to write to the em­ployee and spec­ify when they need to be able to re­turn to full-time work.

You will want to spec­ify that they must be mak­ing suf­fi­cient progress by a cer­tain date (per­haps so many hours per day, or cer­tain du­ties).

You will also need to spec­ify a re­quire­ment for their med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner to re­port on progress at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

At the re­view point, you need to fol­low up with a no­tice re­quir­ing them to be fully fit to re­sume work by a set date.

You also need to re­quire a cer­tifi­cate from their doc­tor that they con­sider that the em­ployee is (or will be by a cer­tain date) fully fit to re­sume their du­ties.

You also need to tell them that, if they are not able to re­sume full du­ties, you will have to make a de­ci­sion on their con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment.

Ask them to pro­vide you with any in­for­ma­tion they wish you to take into ac­count should it be­come nec­es­sary to make a de­ci­sion on their job.

If they ad­vise that they are un­fit to re­sume work or they fail to at­tend work by the due date, you need to con­sider whether you ter­mi­nate their em­ploy­ment.

Ask your­self whether there are any al­ter­na­tives to dis­missal that are rea­son­able in the cir­cum­stances.

If you de­cide to ter­mi­nate their em­ploy­ment you need to give them no­tice.

The length of no­tice will be that in their agree­ment. You also need to con­sider whether you will make any pay­ment on ter­mi­na­tion (as a good­will ges­ture).

Some agree­ments also pro­vide for pay­ments on med­i­cal ter­mi­na­tion.

The time frames you set re­ally de­pend on how much lee­way you are will­ing to give for the em­ployee to re­cover.

This will vary from em­ployee to em­ployee and be guided by how much they of­fer to the com­pany by way of skills, to­gether with any loy­alty they have gen­er­ated by long and val­ued ser­vice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.