How To Deal With Short Term Absences/Malingerers

Dispute Resolution - 1 minute read

This article helpfully sets out 4 steps employers can take in dealing with sickness absence.

It can be very frustrating for employers to deal persistent instances of absence, particularly when they suspect that their employee is not really sick. What then follows is an awkward decision as to whether to accuse the employee of being dishonest, or to turn a blind eye to it.

The rise of social media means that some employees can be caught out if they are not genuinely sick and proceed to update their Facebook or Twitter accounts with their social activities.

As this article rightly points out, the first step is for the employer to obtain as much evidence as possible about the reason for the absence. 

Once that evidence is obtained, it does not necessarily follow that the employee is being dishonest. The employee may have a perfectly reasonable explanation for the absence, and as step 3 in the article rightly addresses, just because an employee is too sick to work does not necessarily mean that they are too sick to go on holiday.

Ultimately, dealing with these kinds of issues needs to be done carefully, because the risks of disciplining or dismissing an employee for absence could result in an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, or even disability discrimination if the employee is disabled.

Managing sickness absence is rarely a straightforward task and dealing with someone that you suspect is not genuinely ill has always been at the trickier end of the scale.