Long Term Sickness - Where do you stand?
I have been signed off on long term sickness absence, but I am worried my employer is planning to dismiss me. Can they do this?
It is possible for your employer to eventually dismiss you for long term sickness absence. This should however be a last resort, and legally they are obliged to follow a series of steps prior to any dismissal.
For example, your employer would be obliged to consult with you about your current illness and investigate the situation as far as possible. Your employer should ask for a medical report from your doctor or occupational health about your prognosis and to find out the effect your condition may have on your ability to carry out your role in the future.
If your condition will impact your ability to do your job and is legally considered a ‘disability’, your employer will be obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable your return to work. This could include, for example, changing your working hours, providing alternative work equipment or offering suitable alternative employment.
However, if no reasonable adjustments can be made and you are unable to continue in your current role as a result of your condition, your employer could ultimately dismiss you for ‘incapability’ reasons. If however, your employer fails to make reasonable adjustments or acts unreasonably by dismissing you without prior consultation, for example, you could bring disability discrimination claims against your employer in the Employment Tribunal.