This month: Handling the case of a sick employee

Published on : 19/01/2021 19 January Jan 01 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage on, causing dire human, social, and economic consequences. It’s also winter, which brings flu season, the common cold, and broken limbs from slips, trips, and falls. During this season, your staff is more likely to call in sick.

An employee on sick leave preserves their employment rights and is even offered a few protections that are important to bear in mind.

In order to avoid exposing your company’s liability unduly, here are some tips to use as a starter checklist when that phone rings on Monday morning, announcing an absence:

Do politely ask to receive the appropriate medical documentation that you are entitled to in virtue of law, the applicable CBA, and the employment contract.

Don’t ask what is specifically ailing the employee if they don’t offer up that information spontaneously: that information is for the doctor and insurance companies. Don’t play detective.

Do enquire as to approximately how long the employee should be unable to work, so that you may re-organize your workflows and teams accordingly.

Don’t ask the employee to come in to work nor to work remotely if they’ve been put on sick leave.

Do try to ensure a handover of duties but don’t involve the sick employee in this unduly.

Don’t take any “retaliatory” action against the employee based on their absence or sickness.

Do consider hiring a temporary replacement (under a Fixed-Term Contract) if the absence is likely to be long.

Don’t rush to fire the sick employee on the grounds of their sickness.

Do check how long their “guaranteed employment” benefit is under the applicable statutes (law, CBA, Company-wide agreement, or contract).

Don’t forget that the employee may be entitled to their maintained salary for a certain period of time, depending on statutory and/or contractual provisions.

Do ensure that the proper paperwork has been filed with your payroll provider (for the social security administration) including documentation if the sickness is related to an occupational illness or workplace accident.

Don’t let the sickness indirectly be a cause of discrimination (for example, depriving the employee from certain benefits down the line).

Do plan for them to have a visit with occupational health services upon the individual’s return from an extended sick leave, where applicable.

If the sickness is related to Covid-19, DO follow all the advice previously presented about handling the risk of contagion in the company. In particular, help identify all staff who may have been exposed through contact with the individual and alert them so that they may be tested and if necessary, isolated.

Flichy Grangé Avocats can assist you with the individual employment and administrative matters that are raised by your employee’s sick leaves.

 

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