Guide

Dismissing employees

Dismissal due to illness

Dismissal due to capability may also include instances where the employer dismisses because the employee is no longer capable of doing the job they were employed to do because of illness.

Occasionally an employee may have to leave your employment because of long-term ill health. Sometimes the employee will simply choose to resign. However, you might eventually have to consider dismissing them.

In order for a dismissal to be potentially fair, you must ensure that you regularly communicate and consult with the employee, take appropriate medical advice, consider the effects of the absence on the business, consider alternatives to dismissal and, if appropriate, take account of any reasonable adjustments as required under disability discrimination legislation.

Finally, before dismissing you must also ensure you comply with the statutory dismissal procedures.

Prior to dismissal

Before dismissing an employee, you should consider as many ways as possible to help them back to work - dismissal is a last resort and could be unfair if not handled properly. It is also very important that you determine whether or not they are disabled under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

You can consider getting a medical report from their GP (with their written permission), or an occupational health assessment. Remember to ask the questions that are relevant to the job, as this will enable you to get the information you need to make an informed decision. The employee has the right to see the GP report before you and may choose not to disclose some information.

If their continued employment is no longer feasible because there are no reasonable adjustments that can be made, it may be fair for you to dismiss them.

During any dismissal procedure, you should treat all employees with sensitivity. You should also act fairly and reasonably. Your dismissal procedure must follow the statutory dismissal requirements.

If you unreasonably fail to follow the statutory dismissal procedures when dismissing and the employee is successful in unfair dismissal proceedings, any compensation awarded by the tribunal or arbitrator could be increased by between 10 and 50 per cent. 

If the employee who is subject to the procedure is disabled, you will also have to consider making any possible reasonable adjustments to allow for their needs; you have to address disability discrimination laws, so this is important.