If an employee who is at risk of redundancy goes off sick during the consultation process, how should the employer handle the situation?
For a redundancy dismissal to be fair, it is essential that the employer consults with the employee, even if he or she is absent due to illness.
Consequently, the employer should keep the absent employee up to date with the ongoing redundancy process and send him or her the same written information as it provides to other employees. The employer should enable the employee to play an active role in the redundancy consultation, preferably by holding meetings with him or her in person. It should take a flexible approach to when and where these meetings take place, bearing in mind the employee's particular health needs. It might be appropriate for meetings to take place at the employee's home. If meetings are not possible, consultation should take place by phone, letter and/or email.
If an employer fails to consult adequately with an absent employee, it could face a claim for unfair dismissal and, if the absence is due to a disability, disability discrimination.