Managing Sickness Absence in NI

Managing Sickness Absence in NI

Join us at our upcoming event in association with Worthingtons Solicitors focused on managing sickness absence in Northern Ireland. This event offers a valuable opportunity to gain insights, practical strategies, and up-to-date guidance from industry experts who’ll provide you with actionable strategies that you can implement immediately within your organisation. 

After attending this event you will:  

  1. Ensure Compliance and Mitigate Risks: you’ll be informed about sick leave policies and legislation specific to Northern Ireland. Our event will provide you with the most up-to-date information on legal requirements and guidelines.  

  1. Gain a comprehensive understanding of your obligations as an employer, including reasonable adjustments, allowing you to minimise risks associated with sickness absence management. 

  1. Gain a Competitive Edge: Efficient sickness absence management directly impacts your organisation's bottom line. By attending our event, you'll gain the knowledge and tools necessary to optimise productivity, reduce absenteeism, and drive better performance. We’ll help you help you use occupational health effectively and implement your organisation’s capability procedures successfully.  

  1. Achieve better outcomes in balancing holiday rights during sick leave:Gain valuable insights into key areas such as holiday entitlement for employees on sick leave, pay entitlement when taking annual leave while on sick leave, and the right to carry over annual leave. We will also explore the impact of recent case law on sick leave and holiday entitlement. 

Who is this event for?

This event is designed for employers, HR professionals and those with line-management responsibilities.  

Why should you attend?

  1. Ensure compliance and mitigate risks with the most up-to-date, Northern Ireland specific information on legal requirements and guidelines. 

  1. Gain a comprehensive understanding of your obligations as an employer in NI. 

  1. Acquirethe knowledge and tools necessary to optimise productivity, reduce absenteeism, and drive better performance.  

  1. Achieve better outcomes in balancing holiday rights during sick leave.  


Standard Price £245




Welcome & Introduction  

Christine Quinn, Legal Island 


Sickness Absence Management in Practice 

Louise McAloon, Partner, Worthingtons Solicitors, sets out the legal principles  surrounding absence management and providesinsights into current absence trends including: 

  1. Overview of the laws impacting on/governing sickness absence in Northern Ireland. 

  1. Ensuring compliance with disability discrimination legislation. 

  1. Developing/supporting robust absence management practices from trigger points to return to work processes. 


Screen Break 


Case Law Round-Up 

Toni Fitzgerald-Gunn, Partner, Worthingtons Solicitorsunravels the complexities of key absence-related cases and highlights the invaluable lessons they hold including disability-related issues and reasonable adjustments. 

Toni will: 

  1. Advise on how the outcome of these cases should influence the way you handle absence, including long term sickness absence, issues in your organisation 

  1. Explain best practice and approaches for reducing absence rates, including the implementation of reasonable adjustments. 

  1. Examine what reasonable adjustment you need to consider in practice in relation to:

    • trigger points in your sickness absence policy. 
    • review stages within absence management processes. 
    • facilitating an employee’s return to work where practicable without delay. 


Screen Break  


The Tricky Questions 

This is your chance to put your questions to the Employment team at Worthingtons! 

Louise and Toni willdiscuss some of the more difficult questions that arise in practice when it comes to managing absence including:

  • What constitutes a disability under NI law?  
  • When does sickness absence become ‘long-term’? 
  • What is ‘reasonable’ when it comes to maintaining contact during absence? 
  • What about GDPR and the return-to-work interview? 
  • At what point should I make a referral to Occupational Health? 
  • What if an employee refuses to attend an Occupational health appointment or refuses to consent to the report being shared? 
  • How should we handle concerns about the appropriateness of an employee’s actions or activities whilst on sick leave? 
  • How do I handle an employee going on sick leave during a disciplinary investigation? 
  • How do I demonstrate ‘reasonableness’ in arguing that absence is too high for the organisation to sustain?   

Got a tricky question of your own? Drop us a line before the event and we will put it to the Worthingtons 


Final Questions with Louise McAloon & Toni Fitzgerald-Gunn 


Holidays and Sick Leave 

 Balancing holiday rights and pay during sick leave can be a conundrum in HR. Katie Buchanan, Associate Partner at Worthingtons answers your questions including: 

  1. What is the holiday entitlement foremployees on sick leave? 

  1. What about pay entitlement when taking annual leave while on sick leave and the right to carry over annual leave? 

  1. The impact of the cases of Harpur Trust v Brazeland, potentially, Agnew (if the decision is out)*. 

*Discussion of Agnew will be subject to whether the Supreme Court decision is published by the date of the event. 


Q&A with Katie Buchanan 


Event Close 



  • Katie Buchanan
    Katie Buchanan Associate Partner
    Worthingtons Solicitor

    Katie graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in Law with French in 2012, having spent a year studying in Bordeaux. Katie commenced employment with Worthingtons in June 2012 and gained pre-qualification experience working as a Legal Executive in the employment department. She qualified as a Solicitor in September 2016 and joined the employment department of our Belfast office. Upon graduation from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies she was awarded prizes for attaining the highest marks in her year group in the Practice Management and Administration of Estates exams. She was also awarded third place in the Belfast Solicitors Association prizes. These prizes are awarded annually to the three solicitor trainees who attain the highest average marks across all exams leading to the Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies. Katie was promoted to Associate Partner in July 2021.

  • Louise McAloon
    Louise McAloon Partner
    Worthingtons Solicitor

    Louise leads and manages the employment department, which is currently the largest employment law practice in Northern Ireland.

    With over 18 years’ experience in employment law, Louise’s knowledge and attention to detail provide an innovative approach that her clients appreciate in relation to complex areas of Public Interest Disclosure, Equal Pay, Discrimination and Unfair Dismissal.  She works closely with employers across the public, private and third sectors and regularly advises on restructuring issues including individual and collective redundancies and the application and implication of TUPE. Louise has a detailed understanding of her clients’ needs and is known for her constructive and pragmatic advice on internal employment issues and providing advice and representation in defence of all categories of employment claims before the tribunals and civil courts. 

  • Toni Fitzgerald-Gunn
    Toni Fitzgerald-Gunn Partner
    Worthingtons Solicitors

    Toni joined the Employment Department at Worthingtons Solicitors in July 2007, having graduated from University of Ulster at Jordanstown with a degree in Law and Government. Since obtaining her professional qualification from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queens University Belfast in 2010, Toni has worked in the Employment Department, and was promoted to Partner in June 2021

Event details


9.30am - 1pm


04 October 2023




Standard Price £245