Terminating an employee who is on medical leave can be a sensitive and complex issue. Employers must follow procedural obligations and ensure they provide accommodation up to the point of undue hardship. In this blog post, we will discuss the necessary steps and considerations employers should take when faced with this challenging situation.
Request Further Medical Information
When an employee provides a medical certificate, employers should request further information to ensure the employee can safely return to work and to identify any limitations or restrictions. This additional information, including a functional assessment, will help the employer make appropriate arrangements and accommodations.
Engage in Dialogue with the Employee
Establishing open communication between the employer, employee, and their medical advisors is crucial in determining the employee’s ability to return to work and any necessary accommodations. This dialogue can help create a collaborative approach to finding a solution that works for both parties.
Evaluate Available Options
Once the employer has obtained the necessary medical information, several options may be considered:
a. Medical leave extension or disability benefits application
b. Return to work plan, including a review period with health professional input
c. Alternate position within the company
d. Flexible work arrangements
e. Independent medical examination, if the information is incomplete, insufficient, or contradictory (with the employee’s consent)
Cautionary Note on Termination
It’s essential for employers to act in good faith when considering terminating an employee on or returning from medical leave. Callous, improper, or insensitive actions can lead to legal repercussions and damages. Employers should exercise caution and consult with legal counsel before making any decisions.
Terminating an employee during medical leave can be a complex process, and employers must navigate the situation with care and sensitivity. By following procedural obligations, engaging in open dialogue, and exploring various options, employers can make informed decisions that respect employee rights and protect their business interests.