Good morning. When an employee is off work on sick leave, their employer would have a duty to try and help them and facilitate a return to work as soon as possible, taking into account their condition and any recommendations made by doctors in terms of what they can and can’t do or what adjustments need to be made.
A common way to bring someone back to work is to offer them light duties so that they are ‘rehabilitated’ back into work and allowed a time to slowly adjust back to full duties. However, that is not set in stone and not every job or workplace would allow that, so it is only an option if it is suitable in the circumstances.
In your case, it may have been suitable if you were not prevented from driving and to expect you to undertake 5h travelling a day just to do light duties would be completely unreasonable and counter-productive. So you may certainly highlight the situation you are in and argue that it is clearly unreasonable to expect you to undertake such a long commute just to do some basic light duties in the office. If you are still unable to travel because you cannot drive and the office is not an easy commute away, you would either have to remain off sick until you are able to come in, or you should be given duties that you can do from home.
Yes it is entirely reasonable that you do not go on light duties considering the commute you have and the fact it is unlikely to help you with your recovery as you will not be resting in the process. There is no right or wrong way to argue this, you could provide as many reasons and defences as you wish but if you have a clueless/stubborn person on the other end they may continue insisting regardless of that. It is simply about being clear with your position and specifically listing the reasons why it is going to be unreasonable in this case for you to do what you have been asked to, reminding them that light duties are supposed to help you back into work and this is certainly not going to do that with all the commute you have to do
Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks
you may ask for a second opinion or more specialist opinion if you strongly believe that the initial opinion given is wrong or based on incorrect assumptions, so yes you could use that as a delay
Has this clarified your query?
You can refuse the light duties if you have a good reason to believe that the initial opinion i incorrect or flawed or that you have serious concerns about it and believe that a second opinion is needed. In terms of terminating your contract, eventually that is a possibility because capability (or lack of) is a potentially fair reason for dismissal but it is not as simple s giving you a specified time limit after which they can dismiss. When looking at the reasonableness of such a dismissal, the tribunal will usually look at the following elements:
Dismissal must always be viewed as a last resort by the employer. Only when it is obvious that the employee cannot continue in their job and that there was nothing else available for them to do would dismissal become a fair option. So just giving you a time period of 6 weeks and dismissing if not back on full duties by then is unlikely to be fair
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