Intermittent short-term absences

Topic Index
Preliminary issues
The process


  • Tom Walker, Partner at lawyers Pennington Manches, sets out below the key issues and key aspects of procedure when dealing with intermittent short-term absences during a disciplinary process.
  • It is a common misconception that if an employee is genuinely off sick they cannot be dismissed by the employer. Indeed, if an employee is absent from work, but not genuinely off sick then this is misconduct, probably gross misconduct, see Checklist on Misconduct at Work.
  • An employer is entitled to regulate its workforce. Tribunals acknowledge the disruption caused to a business by excessive absence. Ill health is a potentially fair reason for dismissal under s. 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996: it comes under the category of capability. It is possible to dismiss someone who has been of with genuine sickness, even if it is stress-related, so long you tread carefully.

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