In a recent case, an employee suffered a long term sickness, which made her medically unfit to carry out her work duties.

The employer, and to an extent the employee, tried to find suitable alternative work with the same company.  However, this was to no avail.  It appeared that any other position would have had significantly lower pay, which she did not want to accept.  It also seemed that the employee had particular requirements about where she wanted to be based.  So, there were no alternative positions that both the employer and employee could agree upon.

Eventually, the employer dismissed the employee with one month’s notice.

The employee bought her situation to the Employment Relations Authority, that held that the employer had acted appropriately and was entitled to dismiss the employee.

Of note, the Authority said that the employer was not required to re-train the employee for a position other than the one defined in the Employment Agreement.  The employer was obliged to address the possibility of an alternative position. However, the employee should also be proactive.  The Authority upheld the dismissal.

Long term illness can be problematic for both employees and employers.  It means the employee is not able to work, and the employer, regardless of how sympathetic he or she may be, needs someone to do the job and cannot afford to have someone not able to work for an extended period of time.

Like all employment matters, it is important to know your obligations and rights in relation to long term sickness.  Further, if, as an employer, you need to dismiss an employee because you are not able to carry a long term sickness, it is crucial to carry out the correct procedures.

For our free step-by-step guide on how to follow proper process see the downloads section of our website, or, if you would like further advice, call Alan Knowsley.