Stress can arguably be seen as theft: it costs employers time and money to resolve the situation. If you have an employee who is off work, their absence is effectively costing you money, however, employment law dictates that you must treat the issue sensitively. It can be just as stressful for the employer to try and integrate the individual back in the workplace. But often, the quandary an employer faces is where to draw the line between being a caring employer: easing the individual’s return to work; or dismissing the employee? At which point does your patience run out?
What is frustrating is that employment law seems to be on the side of the employee rather than the employer. We know that there are many employees absent with good reason and the majority of us go out of our way to look after the mental welfare of our employees – after all, we have a duty to do so.
We can, however, get frustrated when the law does not appear to be on our side and something as simple as dismissing an employee who appears to genuinely be unable to return to work can turn into a potential claim at employment tribunal. I have seen cases where employees take time off work due to stress and they have then been observed playing golf or being seen going on a stag party abroad. Is this genuine therapy or an example of an employee taking advantage of the law? You are then paying for an employee who should be attending work, potentially draining your financial resources which will have a significant impact on smaller firms in particular.
So my question to you is where do you feel the line should be drawn? How can we better determine whether an employee absent from work because of stress is a genuine case or not?
As always I would be interested to hear your thoughts - firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information or advice please contact Peninsula’s Advice Service on 0844 892 2772