Employee fails to return after sick note expires

"We have an employee off sick whose sick note expired last week. We haven't heard from him since, can we write to him inviting him for a disciplinary due to failure to contact the office?"

The straightforward answer to this is yes, but the sensible answer for you as the employer is before you do that pick the phone up and contact the employee off sick.

It’s an urban myth that you can’t contact employees who are off sick, in this situation a phone call could prevent a lot of unnecessary work for you and distress for the employee.

Any formal disciplinary process is time consuming and potentially damaging to the relationship between you and your employee, anything that you can do to avoid unnecessarily going down this route makes good business sense.

This situation could be something as simple as the employee off sick has put his sick note in the post and it hasn’t arrived, something as complex as the employee off sick is abusing the company sickness policy or something as dreadful as the employee has died.

If the employee off sick has previously been told about the sickness reporting system and no sick note materialises you need to do something. To not do anything condones the employee’s conduct and can cause you problems by setting a precedent for how you will have to deal with similar situations going forward with this and other employees.

What can you do? Check what your policies and their contract of employment say about this to be certain about what you’ve said to employees.

Check that you’ve issued these documents to this employee off sick, if you’ve not told him what to do how can you reasonably expect him to know?

You may wish to write to him giving him a deadline for submitting his sick note and reminding him that statutory sick pay is only able to be paid to employees who are off sick. Someone not covered by a sick note potentially may not be sick and, therefore, may not be eligible to receive sick pay. You may wish to take the matter to a formal disciplinary hearing if this is not the first time that the employee off sick has failed to follow the correct reporting procedure. If you go down this route make sure that you read your disciplinary policy and comply with it when inviting the employee to attend.