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Employment Law Myths Debunked #3. You can’t require an employee who is signed off work sick to attend a disciplinary meeting

Myth 3 - You can’t require an employee who is signed off work sick to attend a disciplinary meeting

Yes you can.

Having an employee who is signed off sick refuse to attend a disciplinary hearing is a common occurrence in both the commercial and education sectors. However, being signed off as “unfit to work” doesn't necessarily mean that the employee is unfit to attend a disciplinary hearing.

In the event that an “unfit” employee objects to attending a disciplinary hearing, I would normally advise the employer to ask the employee to attend an occupational health assessment. Occupational health can then assess whether the employee is unfit to attend a disciplinary hearing and what, if any, steps can be taken to enable them to attend without exacerbating their symptoms. Such steps could include conducting the hearing by telephone conference or allowing the employee to send written representations rather than attend in person.

Of course, an employer can’t force an employee to undergo an occupational health assessment. In the event that this happens, the employer is then in the tricky position of deciding whether to go ahead and hold the meeting regardless of the fact that the employee has been signed off as “unfit”. Whether or not it will be reasonable to do this will depend on a number of factors, including the nature and likely length of the employee’s illness and what steps have been made by the employer to facilitate an employee’s attendance. In these circumstances, I would suggest that you seek some advice from our employment team.

If you would like more information regarding disciplinary meetings speak to one of our solicitors on 0113 220 6270. Find out more about our employment services here.

About the Author

Annie Gray

Associate

Primarily acting for employers and senior executives, Annie advise PLC's, private limited companies,…

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