Obligations For Employee Illness

Peninsula Team

July 13 2012

What illnesses are employees required to inform you about? How much do you need to know before it becomes personal? Can you force an employee to take a day off if they have the cold and could infect our workforce?

Although there is no legal requirement for employees to disclose illness information, it would be best practice and extremely beneficial for both parties if employees disclose such information at the earliest opportunity after a job offer has been made and that employers have a good policy dealing with sickness and sickness related issues. It may be that the employee has particular requirements in relation to medication that the employer should be aware of.

Employers are not permitted to ask any health related questions at the recruitment stage. There are, however, some exceptions. For example, employers can ask whether a job candidate requires any special measures to be put in place to complete the recruitment process or in occupations where a particular level of fitness is intrinsic to the job. Where this is not the case, health checks should usually take place after a job has been offered. Where a job offer has been made subject to a satisfactory health check, and health issues occur after the job has been offered, it may be possible to withdraw the offer.

However, if an illness is classed as a disability, the employer has an obligation to consider reasonable adjustments in order to overcome any barriers that the disability presents to being able to perform the role.

Some companies may actively encourage employees to take sick leave when ill. Ill workers at work, also known as presenteeism, can cause a lot more damage than a couple of lost working days. An employee at work with a contagious cold or bug brings many difficulties; it may prolong recovery for that employee, activity and performance levels may drop and the contagion can sweep through the office like wildfire causing mass absenteeism most businesses are not equipped to deal with.

Having a robust policy that every employee is aware of can prevent disruptive absenteeism and presenteeism. Employers may require that employees leave work if it is believed that their continued presence poses risks. Educating employees on when it is and is not appropriate to come to work when ill will strengthen one standard approach so that everyone follows the same procedure, ensuring that the sick stay home to recover and protection for the remaining workforce.

Employees should always be upfront and frank about illness because when it affects performance then the employer has a right to know the reasons for this discrepancy. Also most employers are active to help sick employees and a good fair sickness policy ensures this by assuring employees they are being looked after, bettering work conditions and relationships in sickness and in health.

For any further information please call our 24 hour advice service on 0844 892 2772.

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