How should an employer deal with a situation in which an employee's performance or attendance is affected by elder care responsibilities?

If an employee who has previously been a good performer begins to struggle to meet the demands of the job, or an employee who has had a good attendance record has a large amount of unplanned absence, a personal matter like elder care issues could be to blame. The employer may need to take this into account as a mitigating factor when dealing with the situation. It will need to act in a cautious and confidential manner as many employees find it difficult to discuss personal matters. The employer should consider making an informal approach initially to identify the cause of the problem and work with the employee to try to find a solution that both parties can accommodate. This may include agreeing a flexible pattern of work. It may also be helpful for the employer to refer the employee to an external support service. If these measures fail to achieve the desired results and the employee's performance or attendance continues to be a concern, provided that it continues to take into account mitigating circumstances and gives the employee a reasonable period in which to improve, the employer may commence disciplinary or capability proceedings as appropriate.