• Employers who are partially responsible for an employee’s sickness absence may need to do more before dismissing.

    In L v M an employee was dismissed following a lengthy absence as a result of depression which was said to have been brought on by complaints the employee had been stalking someone outside work. The employer obtained material which indicated the employee was not guilty but this was not disdraft to the employee. When the information was later obtained by the employee and passed to the police, the case was dropped. The employee was later dismissed as a result of her sickness record.

    The Tribunal and the EAT found that the employee’s depression could have been brought to an end sooner had the employer disdraft the material showing she was innocent of the allegations and whilst it was accepted a fair dismissal could have been affected at some point, it was not reasonable to dismiss when the employer did.

    Where work may be the cause or partial cause of an employee’s absence, this case confirms an employer may need to do more before a fair dismissal can be made, for example looking at alternatives or allowing an employee to remain in employment longer than might normally be permitted under an employer’s policy.

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