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Managing Sickness Absence 3: How to manage long-term absences

How do you manage staff who are absent long-term?

This episode of the podcast is the third part of a mini series on managing sickness absence at work and in this episode I cover what you can do to manage staff who are absent long-term due to sickness or injury, including the stages you need to go through if their absence becomes untenable. 

In this episode I will cover:

  • Recognising the difficulties in having conversations with employees who are sick.
  • The importance of maintaining appropriate regular contact with absent employees.
  • Why you need to obtain medical reports and up to date information on the employees condition and prognosis.
  • What to do when you have to start the formal process.
  • The importance of considering disability and reasonable adjustments.
  • When to consider adjustments for the employee.
  • What to do when you reach the point of dismissal.
  • What to consider if the employee is going to be absent indefinitely and/or may not return.
  • How to minimise your risk of a discrimination and/or unfair dismissal claim.

Action Points

  1. Have a clear absence management / sickness procedure in your handbook with relevant ‘trigger’ points for the informal and formal procedures;
  2. Set out from the outset the method and frequency of contact with an employee;
  3. Obtain medical advice;
  4. Seek advice and assistance if you are unsure how to deal with a situation.

We can help with the forms you need, the relevant procedure and training for your managers. Please do not hesitate to get in touch for some real life help for your organisation.

Useful Links

Disability related podcasts:

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You can find an index of all of the podcast topics covered so far here: Podcast Index


In the 4th episode of this mini series I will be covering some listener questions and/or frequently asked questions so if you do have a question please get in touch: or leave a comment below.


If you would like to know more about the HR Harbour Service and how you can get unlimited support from as little as £180 per month please contact me for a no obligation discussion – or you can find full details here: HR Harbour

Don’t forget you can contact us by email or or by telephone 01983 897003, 01722 653001 or 023 8098 2006




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The information contained in this Podcast and post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.


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