Some of our best employees have been with us for many years. They worked closely with us whilst we built our businesses. What happens when one of those valuable employees develops chronic ill health due to age or circumstances? If chronic ill health begins to interfere with the work that they are able to do, then correct procedures must be followed in order to protect the employee and the employer.
Firstly, make sure the employee is seen by a reliable doctor and gets a full and proper diagnosis. Only then can the employer ascertain whether or not there are reasonable prospects for improvement in the employee’s health and ability to do their job again.
If the doctor’s report reveals that the employee is unable to continue doing the tasks associated with their work, then counsel the employee (keeping proper minutes of the counselling session). Let them know that although you sympathise with their position, you require reliable employees, i.e. that are physically capable of performing the tasks associated with the position in which they are employed. At this stage, several things need to be considered in order to discuss any available alternatives with the employee. In considering alternatives, an employer should think about the following issues:
- The nature of the job;
- The period of absence from employment by the employee;
- The seriousness of the illness;
- The possibility of securing a temporary replacement for the ill employee;
- Whether or not there is alternative employment for the ill employee in the workplace.
During the counselling process, the employee should be given an opportunity to present his/her case and put forward suggestions. The employer is not obligated to accept the employee’s suggestions.
Finally, if the situation cannot be resolved, in other words, there is no prospect for improvement in the employee’s health, the employee’s employment must be terminated due to incapacity. In these circumstances, no notice pay or severance is due to the employee.