First Tuesday Q&A

The claimant was dismissed by reason of gross misconduct and in particular.

We have a long-standing manager who, when subjected to a disciplinary due to performance issues, put in a four week sick line for work-related stress. He also lodged a grievance against his relatively new manager. How would you go about resolving this? 

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 06/10/2015 It is important for employers in this kind of situation to treat the employee concerned as they would any other employee who is absent from work due to sickness. Any scheduled disciplinary meetings should also be cancelled in the interim and the employee should be advised of this. As a starting poi...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

Can an Employee on Long Term Sick Leave Still be Considered for Redundancy? What Precautions Should Employer Take?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/09/2015 Yes, they can still be considered, subject to a number of qualifications. In addition to establishing a legitimate reason for redundancy and adhering to the usual requirements of a fair redundancy procedure, you should ensure that, at every stage of the process, reasonable adjustments are made to t...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Redundancy and Reorganisation Sickness and Absence

An employee was suspended on full pay pending the outcome of an investigation process. They immediately send in a sick line. Investigation recommended disciplinary action. Employee is still claiming not fit to attend, GP has said not fit to attend, company doctor says he is. What do we need to be aware of if holding a hearing in absentia?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 07/07/2015 Where an employee (or their GP) has indicated they are not fit to attend a disciplinary hearing which conflicts with the advice of your company doctor, you might consider obtaining medical advice from an independent doctor such as an occupational health physician. Whilst disciplinary hearings can b...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

One of our employees has gone off work as his wife died suddenly a few weeks ago. What should we do in this instance and is it appropriate to ask him when he will be returning? We have no policies in place for bereavement?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/06/2015 There is no obligation on employers to grant compassionate leave in the event of a bereavement, except in the limited circumstances outlined in the statutory right to time off for dependents. However, many employers will provide for a period of paid leave in the event that a close relative of the e...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Policies and Procedures

We have an employee currently on sick leave with back problems. She has recently posted photos on Facebook showing her socialising and dancing on a night out. These photos have been shared with some of her work colleagues on Facebook and we have been notified. Can we dismiss her for gross misconduct?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/02/2015 Ideally, if you have a sickness absence policy or contractual right requiring the employee to submit to medical examinations when requested, you should take steps to verify the employee's sickness in this way in the first instance. If there is no such policy or requirement, then you may nonetheless...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

What happens if there is conflicting advice from a GP & Occupational health professional? OH advise fit to work and GP advises against the fitness; what should a company do?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 06/01/2015 Where an employer obtains more than one medical opinion and the two opinions conflict, a reasonable employer would usually take steps to resolve this conflict by obtaining a third report or by seeking further clarification. However, there may be cases where an employer is entitled to prefer the opi...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence

How long must we wait for an employee to participate in an Investigation where the he is providing medical certificates confirming too stressed to participate?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 07/10/2014 Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb on how long you must wait. This will depend on the facts of each individual case and there is very little that you can do to speed the process along. Given that medical advice agrees that he is too stressed to participate in the investigation, you may strugg...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Disciplinary and Grievance Issues

One of our employees took part on our grounds in the Ice Bucket Challenge. It seemed like a good idea and was to raise money for charity. However, one of the employees tipping a bucket slipped and damaged vertebrae in her back. She’s now off sick and threatening to sue us because we allowed the thing to take place without adequate warnings. We didn’t encourage it – we just let the employees get on with it. Where do we stand legally and is this another case of health and safety gone mad? 

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/09/2014 Legal liability in cases such as these will be determined on the facts of the matter. An action under common law in a situation like this is likely to be based on negligence. To succeed in an action for negligence the injured party would have to prove on the balance of probabilities that the employ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Health and Safety

Does dismissal for absences due to post-natal depression arising after maternity leave amount to sex and/or pregnancy and maternity discrimination?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/08/2014 Under Article 5A of the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, pregnancy discrimination occurs where an employer treats an employee unfavourably because of her pregnancy or because of an illness she has suffered as a result of her pregnancy during the “protected period” i.e. from the beg...

An employee was hired on a fixed term contract, however, soon after they were absent on grounds of sickness and the medical certificates submitted indicate a serious mental health issue with sick leave likely to extend for the foreseeable future. A three month probationary period applies to all new employees and no sick pay is given during the probationary period. Can the company dismiss on grounds of capability whilst the employee is absent on sick leave?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 06/05/2014 In issuing fixed term contracts, employer should be aware of the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002. These essentially give fixed-term employees the right not to be treated less favourably than their full-time comparators unless the tr...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Contracts of Employment Probation