The Jersey Employment Tribunal has released a decision relating to how the employment of an employee ended after he suddenly fell ill.
It was unclear whether he had been dismissed or not and the employee also wanted to know if he had any legal entitlement owing.
The case highlights the need for employers to follow procedures in investigating absence from work due to ill health.
The employee was a store man for a carpet company for about 13 years when he suffered a heart attack that required him to have major surgery and to be absent from work for some time. After being discharged from hospital, he told his employer that he wanted to return to work as soon as he was fit enough to do so but as more time passed, he told others that he would not be returning due to illness. He continued to be signed off and never became fit enough to resume his duties as store man. These were too physically demanding.
After the heart attack, his employer paid him his holiday leave entitlement and what it said was two weeks' pay as a bonus/present. Initially the employee said that the latter was two week's notice pay but subsequently during the hearing, he claimed that it was not and that his notice pay was still owing to him.
The Tribunal concluded that there had been no dismissal; that the employment had ended due to his ongoing illness. After a certain passage of time, it considered that it became apparent to all that he was not going to become fit enough to return to his old job.
As there was no dismissal, he was not entitled to be given notice or payment in lieu of notice.
In this case, although the employer had not followed any procedure at all other than playing a waiting game to see if the employee had become well enough to return, it could have avoided the time cost associated with defending the claim before the Tribunal if it had followed a procedure relating to investigating absence for health reasons.
If you have an employee who has been absent for some time and are uncertain what steps, if any, should be taken, do not hesitate to provide some details to one of our employment team and they will be happy to advise in the matter.
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