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Jenny
Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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I own a small business with 2 employees. I asked one of my

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I own a small business with 2 employees. I asked one of my employees to gain a fit note for his eyesight (he has cataracts which he refuses to address) to operate heavy machinery. I gave him a day holiday to go and do that. He has been absent from work for 2 weeks without contacting me. What should I do next
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hello my name is***** am an employment lawyer and I am happy to help you today. Have you attempted to contact him yet and how long has he worked for you for?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Jenny
I have called his phone with no reply and I am drafting a letter to him today, to send out special delivery. He has worked for me for 8 years. I rather suspect that this may be linked to the fact that I have stopped unauthorised cigarette breaks as my staff were spending over 1 hour per day smoking without being actually allowed to do so.
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Ok thanks, ***** ***** classed as an unauthorised absence. You should write to him to say that he is currently absent without leave and ask him to contact you immediately as it can amount to Gross Misconduct. If you do not hear from him then I would invite him to a disciplinary hearing at the end of next week, he should be told that it is for an allegation of being absent without leave and a possible outcome could be dismissal. You should inform him that he has the right to be accompanied at the hearing by a work colleague or a trade union representative. Is there anything further you would like to know about this?
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My employee has contacts me today saying that he has been advised that his eyesight is not fit for work. I stated to him that he should have been in touch and he says he agrees he should. I am not happy about the fact that he hasn't contacted me for 3 weeks. To be honest I am not happy about reinstating him into the workplace. What are my options.
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
How long has he been signed off for and has he been subject to disciplinary action in the past?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He has not been signed off, he is just absent without authorisation. I have no sight of a fit note. He has not been subject to disciplinary action before but I find it hard to accept that he is absent from work without contact or explanation.
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
You can invite him to a disciplinary hearing on the grounds of gross misconduct. Whether it is reasonable to dismiss him might depend on the reason for his failure to contact you and his previous disciplinary record. You need to be careful that the absence is not for a disability related reason as well.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, Jenny you are very helpful. But I haven't finished yet. Please bear with me. So, if I invite him to a disciplinary hearing on the grounds of gross misconduct, and he cannot offer a reasonable excuse for being absent without contacting me, then dismissal is an option, correct? If he can offer a reasonable explanation and offers me a fit note for his eyesight then does he go on long term SSP? At present, he has contacted me once and the reason for not contacting me was (please forgive my recourse to the vernacular but I am quoting verbatim) "I know I should have contacted you but my head is up my arse", I don't class that as reasonable, I am trying to run a business and need reliable and trustworthy staff. What are your thoughts on this please?
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
That's an absolutely ridiculous thing for him to have said to you. If he does come up with good reason at the hearing then you do not have to keep him on long term SSP. You need to get a medical report from his GP to ask whether any adjustments could be made to support a return to work and how long he is likely to be off. If there seems that there is no way he is employable for a long time then he can be dismissed on the grounds of capability.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Jenny, thank you. You mention that 'there is no way he is employable for a long time'. How long is a long time in your opinion? A month? Two months? A year?
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
It depends on the way your business would cope with the absence to a certain degree. It is hard to put a precise time on it. A month would not be long enough but 3 months plus might be.

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